O Tell Me The Truth About Love

O Tell Me The Truth About Love
W.H. Auden

Some say that Love’s a little boy
And some say he’s a bird,
Some say it makes the world go round
Some say that’s absurd:
But when I asked the man next door
Who looked as if he knew,
His wife got very cross indeed
And said it wouldn’t do.

Does it look like a pair of pyjamas
Or the ham in a temperance hotel,
Does its odour remind one of llamas
Or has it a comforting smell?
Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is
Or soft as eiderdown fluff,
Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges?
O tell me the truth about love.

Our history books refer to it
In cryptic little notes,
It’s quite a common topic on
The Transatlantic boats;
I’ve found the subject mentioned in
Accounts of suicides,
And even seen it scribbled on
The backs of railway guides.

Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian
Or boom like a military band,
Could one give a first-rate imitation
On a saw or a Steinway Grand,
Is its singing at parties a riot,
Does it only like Classical stuff,
Will it stop when one wants to be quiet?
O tell me the truth about love.

I looked inside the summer-house,
It wasn’t even there,
I tried the Thames at Maidenhead
And Brighton’s bracing air;
I don’t know what the blackbird sang
Or what the roses said,
But it wasn’t in the chicken-run
Or underneath the bed.

Can it pull extraordinary faces,
Is it usually sick on a swing,
Does it spend all its time at the races
or fiddling with pieces of string,
Has it views of its own about money,
Does it think Patriotism enough,
Are its stories vulgar but funny?
O tell me the truth about love.

Your feelings when you meet it, I
Am told you can’t forget,
I’ve sought it since I was a child
But haven’t found it yet;
I’m getting on for thirty-five,
And still I do not know
What kind of creature it can be
That bothers people so.

When it comes, will it come without warning
Just as I’m picking my nose,
Will it knock on my door in the morning
Or tread in the bus on my toes,
Will it come like a change in the weather,
Will its greeting be courteous or bluff,
Will it alter my life altogether?
O tell me the truth about love.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. 1in9xuan says:

    please go get published I’ll buy

    1. Yuqi Koh says:

      whut girl this is adapted from the collection that you bought for me AHHAH

      1. 1in9xuan says:

        then please write a book of adaptations I’ll buy. about time I buy that collection lor LOL

  2. 1in9xuan says:

    also feeling slightly cheates

    1. Yuqi Koh says:

      at least i can be a good editor + compiler of great poems

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