Lay your sleeping head, my love, 

Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms 'til break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful. 

Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant, enchanted slope
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy, 
Universal love and hope;
While an abstract insight wakes
Among the glaciers and the rocks
The hermit's carnal ecstasy. 

Certainty, fidelity, 
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell,
And fashionable madmen 
Raise their pedantic, boring cry: 
Every farthing of the cost, 
All the dreaded cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost. 

Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly 'round your dreaming head
Such a day of welcome show
Eye and knocking heart may bless,
Find the mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness find you fed 
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.  

-W.H. Auden


"Lullaby" is a constant mystery to me: How the hell does it work? It's incredible, transcenfuckingdentally joy-inducing on every level; but it goes against so many principles of "good" writing that I've been taught and try to write by. Abstractions and vagueness abound, but I don't think this poem's success is merely an argument in favor of misty intangibles; I suspect that it's the combination of abstract and concrete (if non-specific) bits in combination with the truly surprising (and radically mundane!) word choices in a slightly off-kilter order that make this work (though, of course, that's not all of it). And what's up with that punctuation?! Hello, one colon per stanza and non-standard comma use. Even the meter is a mystery: is it (slightly irregular) trochaic tetrameter with most of the last syllables cut off? Is it trochaic trimeter with a hypermetrical syllable? NO ONE KNOWS.