I first read this poem by W.H. Auden, titled “September 1, 1939,” nearly 50 years ago, while attending a small catholic college in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Those were pre-political years for me, but still it resonated. Since then I have dug it up now and then for a little enjoyment as well as inspiration. But today the poem touches me in a deeply existential way, and I’m sure that needs no explanation. Here is the last stanza:

“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.”