Between Two Branches

Dinaw Mengestu
Dinaw Mengestu in Washington, DC in 2012 (Source: Getty Images)

“What was it my father used to say? A bird stuck between two branches gets bitten on both wings. I would like to add my own saying to the list now, Father: a man stuck between two worlds lives and dies alone. I have dangled and been suspended long enough.”

Dinaw Mengestu, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, 2007

An Affirming Flame

W. H. Auden wrote the poem “September 1, 1939”  during the first days of World War II. It deliberately echoes the stanza form of W. B. Yeats’ “Easter, 1916” and similarly moves from a description of failures and frustrations to the possibility of transformation. (See text.) Here it is, as read by Dylan Thomas:

Note: Since I posted this, I have read Edward Mendelson’s “The Secret Auden,” which shows that Auden was a great person as well as a great poet.