W H Auden


Each lover has a theory of his own
About the difference between the ache
Of being with his love, and being alone:


Why what, when dreaming, is dear flesh and bone
That really stirs the senses, when awake,
Appears a simulacrum of his own.


Narcissus disbelieves in the unknown;
He cannot join his image in the lake
So long he assumes he is alone.


The child, the waterfall, the fire, the stone ,
Are always up to mischief, though, and take
The universe for granted as their own.

The elderly, like Proust, are always prone
To think of love as a subjective fake;
The more they love, the more they feel alone.


Whatever view we hold, it must be shown
Why every lover has a wish to make
Some other kind of otherwise his own:
Perhaps, in fact, we never are alone.