THE MORE LOVING ONE
Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference at least
We have to dread from man or beast.
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.
Similar in tone, I suppose, to Christy Brown’s poem “Distance,” although I guess to be fair, Auden was first. I love a lot of Auden’s work, including the poem that Four Weddings and a Funeral made famous, “Funeral Blues”: “Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone . . .” Like “Psyche with the Candle,” I feel it expresses some universal truths about love—in this case, unrequited love—quite well.