Advent 2

If the muscle can feel repugnance, there is still a false move
to be made;
If the mind can imagine to-morrow, there is still a defeat
to remember;

As long as the self can say “I”, it is impossible not to rebel;
As long as there is an accidental virtue, there is a necessary vice:
And the garden cannot exist, the miracle cannot occur.

For the garden is the only place there is, but you will not find it
Until you have looked for it everywhere and found nowhere that is
not a desert;
The miracle is the only thing that happens, but to you it will not
be apparent,
Until all events have been studied and nothing happens that you
cannot explain;
And life is the destiny you are bound to refuse until you have
consented to die.
Therefore, see without looking, hear without listening, breathe
without asking:
The Inevitable is what will seem to happen to you purely by chance;
The Real is what will strike you as really absurd;
Unless you are certain you are dreaming, it is certainly a dream
of your own;
Unless you exclaim–“There must be some mistake”–you must
be mistaken.

–W.H. Auden, “Advent, IV (Recitative),” For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2013 [ed. Alan Jacobs]), 8-9

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