by W.H. Auden
Stanza 4 Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of welcome show
Eye and knocking heart may bless,
Find the mortal world enough;
- For a while, the speaker hasn't been speaking directly to his beloved; he's been addressing someone else. He might even be talking to himself. But this changes in the last stanza as he begins to address his lover directly.
- Although the speaker seems pretty anti-religion throughout the poem (he describes himself as faithless, he spends a lot of time talking about the grave with no corresponding talk of heaven), here he definitely takes on a prayerful tone.
- Even though he reiterates the fact that nothing is permanent – beauty, midnight, and even vision die – he still wants things to be beautiful for his beloved. He wants the winds of dawn to circle his beloved's head. He wants the day to welcome him. He even uses the word "bless."
- But then comes the kicker. He says, in this prayer, that his beloved should "find the mortal world enough." This is his way of saying: don't go looking for a god, and don't try to solve your problems in the heavens. Look at the world, the beautiful, mortal, guilty world. That world is more than we will ever need. We don't need God. Pretty blunt.
Noons of dryness see you fed
By the involuntary powers
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.
- The speaker continues the same train of thought here. He says that in times of dryness and hunger, his beloved will be fed. He also says that, in difficult times, insults will pass right over him.
- This is starting to sound religious again, isn't it? But the speaker reveals his purpose in the last line: he will be the one protecting his beloved from hunger and insults, not God. There's no God in this equation. The speaker, and his "every human love," will watch over him.
- It all comes back to the line "find the mortal world enough." It's as if the speaker is saying: we don't need God; we have each other.