If one can abide stars that are simply points of light, inert things that don’t watch us and are no kind of companion—and certainly this is what we all believe nowadays—one can learn to adjust to an empty sky. An empty sky is awfully beautiful, too, and, moreover, reminds us that we are the more loving ones—the only ones who love. That is something of a distinction. Bronte would never adjust… but she is lost in her fantasy: could the dark of her pillow really be a surrogate for the washed out stars? Auden is more cynical. There is no difference between day and night if stars are not the sort to give a damn.

But maybe there is a difference… the daily washout of the stars by the blood-red sun doesn’t faze Auden while the total dark sublime would take (him) a little getting used to. I think Mike is right to wonder persistently about that last line. I feel strongly that we are meant to read ‘a little time’ as ‘a hell of a lot of time.’ So which is it—“no worries, man, the stars are just pretty lights anyway” or “this might take a good long while.” Maybe Auden is as susceptible to fantasy as Bronte. I know I am.