[…] it survives,A way of happening, a mouth. (40-41)
When everything else in the world is isolating and frozen and uncaring, poetry seems to have a way of moving between people and things and unlocking feelings. But can one little poem really do all that work? Auden sure thinks it can. Poetry seems to have its own energy in this passage, a motion that's inherent in its form.
With the farming of a verseMake a vineyard of the curse,Sing of human unsuccessIn a rapture of distress; (58-61)
What makes a good poem? Well, for one thing, a grounding in reality. This isn't a time for sunshine and flowers. It's an unhappy time – and this poem (like Yeats's) takes stock of that. But it also manages to transform barrenness into something fruitful (that's the whole "vineyard of the curse" thing).
In the deserts of the heartLet the healing fountain start, (62-63)
As this poem grows, poetry's power seems to crescendo as well. We admit that sounds a little Power Ranger-y. But fountains of knowledge and verse? That can't be all bad.