Monday, September 18, 2023

Today's poem by WH Auden

I am currently watching The Last Detective on Britbox. A character called Mod played by the late Sean Hughes quoted the last two lines of this poem. It is the eighth of Auden's Twelve Songs - April 1936. 

At Last the Secret is Outby 

At last the secret is out, as it always must come in the end,
The delicious story is ripe to tell to tell to the intimate friend;
Over the tea-cups and in the square the tongue has its desire;
still waters run deep, my dear, there’s never smoke without fire.

Behind the corpse in the reservoir, behind the ghost on the links,
Behind the lady who dances and the man who madly drinks,
Under the look of fatigue the attack of migraine and the sigh
There is always another story, there is more than meets the eye.

For the clear voice suddenly singing, high up in the convent wall,
The scent of the elder bushes, the sporting prints in the hall,
The croquet matches in summer, the handshake, the cough, the kiss,
There is always a wicked secret, a private reason for this.


  1. Thank you for this. I love Auden so much.

  2. Our library has The Last detective and I just requested it! Now I think I will look for an Auden book as well.

  3. How great! Peter Davison and Sean Hughes are quite wonderful in this.
    And oh, Auden. I just love his work.

  4. How utterly sad but enticing as are many of Auden's poems! I have his anthology and while a lot are ones I struggle to appreciate, much less understand, others steal my heart. I also buy any book where he has written the introduction. And I think I am such a huge fan of Alexander McCall Smith because he quotes Auden in so many of his books. Somewhere on my shelf I have a McCall Smith book written entirely about Auden, about what Auden has meant to his life. You might enjoy that too if you haven't seen it.

    I must see if The Last Detective is on the free BritBox I get as part of Prime!

  5. I have read the AMS book about Auden!!!! I do like The Last Detective. Not all cheery but such good characters.


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