Study Guide

Lullaby Love

By W.H. Auden

Love

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm; (1-2)

This is a really intimate way to begin a poem. It's almost as if we're overhearing the speaker whispering to his lover in bed.

Mortal, guilty but to me
The entirely beautiful. (9-10)

The speaker knows that his beloved isn't perfect. Instead of being a problem, his mortality and guiltiness is what makes him worth loving. It's what makes him beautiful to the speaker.

Soul and body have no bounds: (11)

It seems here like the lovers are all tangled up in each other, both physically and emotionally.

In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope; (12-17)

The speaker imagines a message of love sent to the lovers from Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. Yet this message is "grave"; it's serious and maybe even a little morbid. Love in this poem is not sparkling all the time because there's always the threat of death. Also, it's noteworthy that the speaker uses the word "ordinary" to describe the embrace of the lovers. Their love is nothing special; it's the love that every human experiences.

[…] but from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss or look be lost. (28-30)

The speaker declares that he'll remember everything that has happened on this night. He won't forget a single second of this love-filled experience.

Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of sweetness show
Eye and knocking heart may bless.
Find the mortal world enough; (32-36)

The speaker whispers a prayer-like wish for his sleeping beloved. He wants the world to treat him well, and he wants his lover to find what he needs on earth, not in the heavens.

Noons of dryness see you fed
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love. (37-40)

The speaker declares that he'll watch over his lover completely. He'll make sure that he's fed in times of famine, and protected from all harm. Instead of looking to God for help, the speaker essentially says, his beloved should look to him.

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