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Lay for the Day
21st February

1907: the poet W.H. Auden is born in York.

The House

The wind as it sucks at the stack
Carries a fume as dense as guilt
That cankers blooms and drives the garden back
From the house that Jack built.

They’re up to party every night
And things get broken, drinks are spilt,
But it’s still as the grave when the red light
Strikes the house that Jack built.

Some days a pallid toddler cries
For Mr Jack and Mrs Jilt
At the square windows like ignorant eyes
Of the house that Jack built.

A blue glow blinks at evening fall
From an upper room. Curtains wilt
On wires, the doors are locked to all who call
At the house that Jack built.

But gawpers overlook the signs
And, passing in slow-footed lines,
Resolve when they build to base their designs
On the house that Jack built.


John Gibbens
from Zeus’s Camera


The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar