Saturday, 6 September 2014

Thank You, Fog

“Thank You, Fog”

This is the title poem of a collection by W H Auden. The poem isn’t long, it’s about a foggy and very cordial Christmas in Wiltshire, being cut off from the world by impassable roads and reluctant travellers. He contrasts the pure, clean, English countryside Winter fog with the New York smog, which he lived with most of the rest of the time.

But I don’t need the rest of the poem. The title is enough. The weather has always spoken to me of God, and most of all the air itself. “Breathe on me, breath of God” we sing, and in the fog, the air does just that. It envelops us, touches us, damps out all distractions of noise and light, and makes itself known.

The poem ends “Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Fog”, and ever since I first read it, I have thought it was addressed to God. It is my daily prayer over food, and in myriad other circumstances:

For this food, and the wit to cook it;
For friends to love and share the table, and the silence, with;
For the cat that leaps on me to be cuddled and to dribble;
For the aspidistra who lurks quietly in her pot, knowing she will survive empires;
For the music that makes me think of something, and of nothing;
For the view of England’s fields and woods;
For the mother who stands tall, proud, and purposeful, over the devastation of widowhood;
For the things I’ve seen, the doors that have opened (including Mr Auden’s!);

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, Fog.

Richard Haggis
Barton-upon-Bayswater, Oxford
July 2014

3 comments:

  1. Mr Auden's door, by the way, was Tom Tower, the gateway to Christ Church, Oxford, of which, long after he did, I too became an undergraduate.

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  2. Succinct, beautifully crafted and moving, as ever! xxxx

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