the distance to suffering


They are and suffer; that is all they do;
A bandage hides the place where each is living,
His knowledge of the world restricted to
The treatment that the instruments are giving.
And lie apart like epochs from each other.
—Truth in their sense is how much they can bear;
It is not talk like ours, but groans they smother—
And are remote as plants; we stand elsewhere.
For who when healthy can become a foot?
Even a scratch we can’t recall when cured,
But are boist’rous in a moment and believe
In the common world of the uninjured, and cannot
Imagine isolation. Only happiness is shared,
And anger, and the idea of love.
—W.H. Auden


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