I keep a book of Auden’s poems on the table next to my bed. Now and again I settle in with a few minutes of stop all the clocks and the like before I go to sleep.

I’ve had the book for decades. It’s a small hardback with “Auden” embossed in gold on the front and a woven cloth bookmark that comes fully integrated.

For a few years, I’ve kept the bookmark fixed at the same place. Even though I have it memorized, I’ve always started with this one, words written in 1939:

Epitaph on a Tyrant

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.