Many thanks to JL for his attempts to identify my Auden poem: thanks, but no cigar. I found it just a moment ago though I've looked for 2 or 3 years at least. It is section XV of "Sonnets From China". My memory had mutated it a bit: XV As evening fell the day's oppression lifted; Tall peaks came into focus; it had rained: Across wide lawns and cultured flowers drifted The conversation of the highly trained. Their gardeners watched them pass and priced their shoes; A chauffeur waited, reading in the drive, For them to finish their exchange of views; It looked a picture of the way to live. Far off, no matter what good they intended, Two armies waited for a verbal error With well-made implements for causing pain, And on the issue of their charm depended A land laid waste with all its young men slain, Its women weeping, and its towns in terror. W. H. Auden (1938) *********** Every time I listen to our "leaders" talking about war, I'm reminded of this poem -- and though I scrabbled and scumbled the imagery badly, still the meaning and sentiment is there. I shan't elaborate, if it doesn't kick you in the gut, nothing I can say will. Mike Geary Memphis ----- Original Message ----- From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2007 7:29 PM Subject: [lit-ideas] The Ostnia/Westland Room Geary: "Does anyone know the name of a W. H. Auden poem about leaders meeting in a villa retreat and making decisions in that safe and privileged atmosphere that will rain death down on cities? I've looked through many of Auden's collected works, but can't find it. I can't remember more than what I've just told unfortunately. I'm 98% positive it exists out there in the world of print. If it rings a bell, please let me know." Well, this is one takes place in the office of a dictator. But not precisely your scenario. On the Frontier: A Melodrama in Two Acts, by W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood, first published in 1938. The play tells the story of the outbreak of war between the fictional European countries of Ostnia and Westland. Some of the action takes place in the "Ostnia-Westland Room", an imaginary setting in which two rooms, one in an Ostnian household, one in Westland household, each occupy half the stage, and the family in one house are unaware of the family in the other - although the son and daughter of the two families sense each other's existence. Other scenes take place in the office of the Westland dictator. The play ends in a visionary scene between the two lovers who have never met in real life. The play was produced in October 1938 at the Arts Theatre, Cambridge, in a production by the Group Theatre (London). The music for the play was composed by Benjamin Britten. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ See what's new at AOL.com and Make AOL Your Homepage.