Fish in the Unruffled Lakes

Poem by W. H. Auden

Fish in the unruffled lakes
    Their swarming colours wear,
    Swans in the winter air
    A white perfection have,
    And the great lion walks
    Through his innocent grove;
    Lion, fish and swan
    Act, and are gone
    Upon Time’s toppling wave.

    We, till shadowed days are done,
    We must weep and sing
    Duty’s conscious wrong,
    The Devil in the clock,
    The goodness carefully worn
    For atonement or for luck;
    We must lose our loves,
    On each beast and bird that moves
    Turn an envious look.

    Sighs for folly done and said
    Twist our narrow days,
    But I must bless, I must praise
    That you, my swan, who have
    All gifts that to the swan
    Impulsive Nature gave,
    The majesty and pride,
    Last night should add
    Your voluntary love.