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This morning, I read a great article in the recent Comment magazine written by David Robinson. He selects ‘Sext’ of W.H. Auden’s collection Horae Canonicae to reflect on how being a creature (one who creates)  is in danger of becoming a lost art.

What he has to say is worth reading. If you would like to borrow my copy, come knocking.


You need not see what someone in doing

to know if it is his vocation,


you have only to watch his eyes:

a cook mixing a sauce, a surgeon


making a primary incision,

a clerk completing a bill of lading,


wear the same rapt expression,

forgetting themselves in a function.


How beautiful it is

that eye-on-the object look.


To ignore the appetitive goddesses,

to desert the formidable shrines


of Rhea, Aphrodite, Demeter, Diana,

to pray instead to St Phocas,


St Barbara, San Saturnino,

or whoever one’s patron is,


that one may be worthy of their majesty,

what a prodigious step to have taken.


There should be monuments, there should be odes,

to the nameless heroes who took it first,


to the first flaker of flints

who forgot his dinner,


the first collector of seashells

to remain celibate


Where should we be but for them?

Feral still, un-housetrained, still


wandering through forests without

a consonant to our names,


slaves of Dame Kind, lacking

all notion of a city,


and, at this noon, for this death,

there would be no agents.


— W.H. Auden, “Sext”, Horae Canonicae. 


Luncheon In Fur by Meret Oppenheim

 Things suffer, as a person would, when they are reduced to their functions. Care of the soul, therefore, requires that we see things less for what they can do and more for what they are. Art helps us in this by reframing things in an aesthetic context.

In order to care for the soul of things we must pay attention to form as well as function, to decay as well as invention, as to quality as well as efficiency (277).