from UNDER WHICH LYRE
~ by W. H. Auden
Thou shalt not do as the dean pleases,
Thou shalt not write thy doctor’s thesis
Thou shalt not worship projects nor
Shalt thou or thine bow down before
Thou shalt not answer questionnaires
Or quizzes upon World Affairs,
Nor with complaince
Take any test. Thou shalt not sit
With statisticians nor commit
A social science.
Thou shalt not be on friendly terms
With guys in advertising firms,
Nor speak with such
As read the Bible for its prose,
Nor, above all, make love to those
Who wash too much.
Thou shalt not live within thy means
Nor on plain water and raw greens.
If thou must choose
Between the choices, choose the odd.
Read The New Yorker, trust in God,
And take short views.
An excerpt from W. H. Auden’s long poem, Under Which Lyre, presented as the Phi Beta Kappa poem at Harvard in 1946. See also Arthur Hugh Clough’s The Latest Decalogue.