To Love or Die

  • All I have is a voice
  • To undo the folded lie,
  • The romantic lie in the brain
  • Of the sensual man-in-the-street
  • And the lie of Authority
  • Whose buildings grope the sky:
  • There is no such thing as the State
  • And no one exists alone;
  • Hunger allows no choice
  • To the citizen or the police;
  • We must love one another or die.

  • Defenseless under the night

  • Our world in stupor lies;

  • Yet, dotted everywhere,

  • Ironic points of light

  • Flash out wherever the Just

  • Exchange their messages:

  • May I, composed like them

  • Of Eros and of dust,

  • Beleaguered by the same

  • Negation and despair,

  • Show an affirming flame.

From “September 1, 1939” by W.H. Auden

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