Print Edition



Jul 2, 2018

The Art And Artifice Of Poetry

Screen Shot 2021 03 05 At 11 08 01 Am

Hamza Yusuf

Zaytuna College

Hamza Yusuf is a leading proponent of classical learning in Islam and president of Zaytuna College, a Muslim liberal arts college in Berkeley, California.

More Full Bio
Crider Scott

Scott F. Crider

University of Dallas

Scott F. Crider has published extensively on the works of William Shakespeare and maintains the English Renaissance as one of his major research interests.

More Full Bio

The Art And Artifice Of Poetry

Scott Crider and Hamza Yusuf discuss the art and artifice of poetry.


Moon Landing – W. H. Auden

It’s natural the Boys should whoop it up for

so huge a phallic triumph, an adventure

it would not have occurred to women

to think worth while, made possible only

because we like huddling in gangs and knowing

the exact time: yes, our sex may in fairness

hurrah the deed, although the motives

that primed it were somewhat less than menschlich.

A grand gesture. But what does it period?

What does it osse? We were always adroiter

with objects than lives, and more facile

at courage than kindness: from the moment

the first flint was flaked this landing was merely

a matter of time. But our selves, like Adam’s,

still don’t fit us exactly, modern

only in this – our lack of decorum.

Homer’s heroes were certainly no braver

than our Trio, but more fortunate: Hector

was excused the insult of having

his valor covered by television.

Worth going to see? I can well believe it.

Worth seeing? Mneh! I once rode through a desert

and was not charmed: give me a watered

lively garden, remote from blatherers

about the New, the von Brauns and their ilk, where

on August mornings I can count the morning

glories, where to die has a meaning,

and no engine can shift my perspective.

Unsmudged, thank God, my Moon still queens the Heavens

as She ebbs and fulls, a Presence to glop at,

Her Old Man, made of grit not protein,

still visits my Austrian several

with His old detachment, and the old warnings

still have power to scare me: Hybris comes to

an ugly finish, Irreverence

is a greater oaf than Superstition.

Our apparatniks will continue making

the usual squalid mess called History:

all we can pray for is that artists,

chefs and saints may still appear to blithe it.

August 1969

Other ways to listen