W.H. Auden's 'If I Could Tell You'

W.H. Auden (21 February 1907 – 29 September 1973), who is best known for his long poem ‘The Age of Anxiety’, also wrote, among other books of poetry, essays, plays etc., scripts for films. He also wrote the drama ‘The Ascent of F6’ and ‘The Dog Beneath the Skin’ in collaboration with Christopher Isherwood (who also had been his companion). Anyway my purpose of writing this post is not to explore his life history. I present here one of his most beautifully written poem entitled ‘If I Could Tell You’:

 

If I Could Tell You

Time will say nothing but I told you so,
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,
If we should stumble when musicians play,
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

There are no fortunes to be told, although,
Because I love you more than I can say,
If I could tell you I would let you know.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,
There must be reasons why the leaves decay;
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,
The vision seriously intends to stay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

Suppose all the lions get up and go,
And all the brooks and soldiers run away;
Will Time say nothing but I told you so?
If I could tell you I would let you know. 

 After going through this poem, I was reminded of dying Hamlet’s last lines in  Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’:

"Had I but time…
…O, I could tell you--
But let it be. . . . "

Another message that has been expressed is that there are some things which cannot be expressed through words, they have to be understood - the things, which even time won't explain. They have to be realised by ourselves only. They are probably the things that are left unsaid. But then, even silence communicates.

3 comments:

surjit said...

What a wonderful poem!!!!Its depth has to be understood to be enjoyed i.e. its unsaid meaning.
You have rightly said that silence is a great art of communication.
Thanks Amritbir Kaur Ji, for sharing another soul stirring poem.
God bless.

Puneet Kaur said...

"The winds must come from somewhere when they blow, "

Very profound and beautiful.. Thanks for sharing :)

Ix I said...

That quotation from Hamlet made me think a lot of things...




Thank you :D

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