For Auden's centenary, at his former home, the East Village, NewYork

Birthday boy, you would have had to dine Round about now, to be inbed by nine, To snuggle down in this city wired with light,Ridiculously early for the night, Seeming to hear it briefly hushits noise, As if indulging its adopted schoolboy's Crazy schedule.

Far away from home, Five hours into the dark our funny kingdomSleeps, from that other York where you were born, To the childhoodfields and every prep- school dorm You sat awake in, lecturing yourchums About the universe, among the cake-crumbs.

Perhaps you hit the sack at the height of play Because they did,three thousand miles away And thirty years before; perhaps thebright Dream this city is was the only night-light Strong enough tosoothe; perhaps your work Began when you looked up from yourdashed-off

homework Over the fields and found yourself alone Out there,watching the windows one by one Cave into dark till there was onlythis: Time with the shivers, thinking of timelessness.

By Glyn maxwell