by W. H. Auden
At last the secret is out, as it always must come in the end,
The delicious story is ripe to tell to the intimate friend;
Over the tea-cups and in the square the tongue has its
Still waters run deep, my dear, there’s never smoke
Behind the corpse in the reservoir, behind the ghost on
Behind the lady who dances and the man who madly
Under the look of fatigue, the attack of migraine and the
There is always another story, there is more than meets
For the clear voice suddenly singing, high up in the
The scent of the elder bushes, the sporting prints in the
The croquet matches in summer, the handshake, the
cough, the kiss,
There is always a wicked secret, a private reason for this.
Image: Johannes Vermeer, Woman Writing a Letter with her Maid, c. 1670-71. Oil on canvas. 72.2 x 59.5 cm. National Gallery of Ireland.