The Corner

Poetry Bleg

OK, here’s a poetry bleg for starters.

In my Cole Porter piece a few days ago. I

quoted, as an example of alliteration, the following line: “Softly the

civilized centuries fall.” A couple of readers want to know who wrote this

line. I am embarrassed to say I can’t remember. When writing that passage,

I fished around in my memory for an alliterative line, and up it popped.

Google doesn’t help — and yes, I tried both the American “z” and British

“s” spellings of “civilized.”

If anyone can locate this poem for me I’d be much obliged. All I know

(probabilities in parentheses, as percentages) is

— It’s a real line of verse (100). I didn’t make it up (100). And I’m

pretty sure it’s word perfect (90).

— It’s the first line of a poem (85), or just possibly the first line of a

stanza but not of the poem (15).

— It’s one of the mid-20th-century British poets (80).

— But not Auden (99). It sounds like Auden, I know, but it ain’t him.

(All the midcentury British poets sound like Auden at least some of the

time — his influence was tremendous.)

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