If you have heard or read much from Cornel West, you’ve probably encountered his terse encapsulation of the dark side of the human condition: “We’re all cracked vessels, trying to love our crooked neighbors with our crooked hearts.” For as many times as I’ve heard it, I did not know the source of the phrase until I discovered today on Quote Vadis this fragment from W.H. Auden’s poem As I walked Out One Evening:
O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart.
This is one of many blessings of poetic insight to be discovered in Auden’s writings. If you’re interested in what a poet sees and has to say about things like society and politics, human relationships, religion, morality, or nature, you will find in Auden a deep well. You can start here.