Perhaps Auden’s last line points us to something about the type of cynicism that these poems exhibit. The view that the stars don’t, in fact, give a damn is born from an attempt to remove all personifiable qualities that would typically be attributed to stars (caring, watching-over, keenness in Frost’s words). What we’re left with when we strip the stars of all the mystical qualities (the ones that Bronte satirically gives them) is nothing but the pale and lifeless eyes of a statue. Perhaps Auden is inviting the question in his last line: Should we be doing this? And, if we do succumb to the cynical modern view of the stars, what are we left with when we stare at the nothingness?
PS: Do we have a second poem lined up for next week?
One response to “This makes less sense”
There’s nothing necessarily cynical (in any sense of the word) in casting away our silly crotchets and fancies about the mystical qualities of the stars! A star-filled sky can be quite beautiful and comforting, even knowing that they’re all just giant nuclear furnaces. The destruction of myth needn’t destroy the metaphor; we can read your question in Auden’s poem without mourning the loss of our faith.
As for what’s left when the stars are gone—some may see the void itself as a painful reminder of what was lost, and some may see a blank slate ripe for a new mythology. I’m hopeful that I haven’t exhausted the possibilities, though.