In all fairness, I should note that this is not the biblical Simeon, but St. Simeon the founder of the Syrian Orthdox church.  However, the image goes a long way to expressing Auden's intent.

Auden's The Meditation of Simeon: An Outline

The prose poem "The Meditation of Simeon" from Auden's For the Time Being reflects Auden's own theological and philosophical thinking at the time and shows the profound (if somewhat scattered) reach of Auden's poetic and philosophical sensitivity.  The meditation's argument unfolds in two parts:

I. The conditions that must be exhausted before the incarnation (speeches 1-7).

II. The results of the incarnation (speeches 8-12).

These further break down into several subsections:

I. The Conditions

A. "As long as--" the other options concerning the fall

1. As long as some degree of the original intimacy between humanity and the creation existed, there was the temptation to believe the fall was neither complete nor final (speech 1).

2. As long as there were various attempts to be made at self-actualization, growth, or improvement, there was still hope that the fall was simply a matter of a childhood, even a necessary one, that we must grow out of, instead of a judgment and expulsion (speech 2).

3. As long as there were still projects or schemes to overcome the fall, there remained hope that the fall could either be overturned or had been only an accident not a choice (speech 3).

B. "Before the--" the philosophical and psychological options

1. There needed to remain no place for human subjectivity to solve its own problems.  God the Positive must needs have no claims of humanity solving its problems through removal of barriers or issues (speech 4).

2. There needed to remain no place for philosophical speculations.  We could not believe that we would save ourselves by solving the problem of the one and the many, the real and apparent, or the subject-object problem.   God the Infinite must needs have us come to an awareness of our own subjective claims in these matters (speech 5).

3. There needed to remain no place for psychological claims of the unconsciousness, as if this could account for original sin. God the Unconditional must needs have us see the limits of self-knowledge through psychosis (speech 6).

C. "From the beginning until now--" the condition of absolute despair" (speech 7)

1. God has spoken of the incarnation through the witness of the prophets.

2. Yet this witness must be misunderstood as long as one could deny either the impossibility or the necessity of the incarnation.

3. Only when humanity had reached an absurd point (an existential leap of faith) would they have no choice but to either understand and believe or understand and reject.

II. The Results

A. "But here and now--" God's I AM becomes THOU ART (speech 8).

1. The incarnation has always been implicit in the Godhead. And it has been feared in the I AM, the eternal Being, of God, for we can only sense the tremendous mystery and wholly otherness of God.

2. But this otherness has now been made clear to us in the THOU ART of the incarnation. (cf. John 1:1-14)  Christ becomes a human being in a personal relationship that we can know within our weakness.

B. "By the event of this birth--"  The meaning of all existence is measured (speech 9).

1. Christ's birth is the one absolutely necessary event by which all other events are measured, become contingent, and become important. 

2. Christ is no symbol, being the measure by whom everything else is understood.

C. The incarnation's impact upon all human knowledge and culture.

1. "By him is dispelled"--In the incarnation, we understand that we are freely tempted and of necessity have faith.  Likewise, all history can be predicted by whether we are governed by self-love or by love of God and neighbor (speech 10).

2. "Because in Him the Flesh--" How the incarnation gives art and the imagination direction and meaning (speech 11)

a. The incarnation is truly the uniting of the Logos with human physicality.  It is not a magical (i.e. aesthetic) symbol.  As a result, imagination as mimesis is legitimate; we are not limited to playing with images.

b. Likewise, the struggle between virtue and fate is not limited to a few epic or tragic heroes; rather, it is a matter of the fallen human will.

c. Nor are common or comic things ugly, for the incarnation is God's "comic bewilderment."

d. All situations are now of interest because God has valued the least thing.

e. Thus, since all human passion has a reason, art will continue as a meaningful pursuit.

3. "Because in Him the Word--"How the incarnation redeems reason and makes science meaningful (speech 12).

a. Because in the incarnation, God is united to physicality, reason is no longer locked in the problem of the one and the many. 

i. This position rejects those who would deny God is one, as well as those who claim that God is unconcerned with his creation.

ii. It likewise rejects the claim of Israel that God is only concerned with them.

b. God's truth is not divided, yet the opportunities to understand that truth through science are boundless because of the infinite variety and love God (Logos) has revealed in the creation.

c. Thus, our science has purpose and continued existence.

4. "And because of His visitation--" Because of the incarnation, we no longer have to pursue salvation but surrender to God's action. Our peace is found in opening ourselves to God's pursuit of us (speech 13).


The Song of the Chorus

Interspersed throughout this meditation is the song of the chorus.   Notice how it mirrors Simeon's meditation in its themes. It, too, breaks down into a statement of the problem--the human fall with all its bleak consequences--and a statement of the results--new hope and meaning in God.

Here the chorus' song is gathered together:

When we woke, it was day; we went on weeping.
We danced in the dark, but were not deceived.
Lions came loping into the lighted city.
We looked at our Shadow, and Lo, it was lame.
Promising to meet, we parted forever.
The bravest drew back on the brink of the Abyss.
The eternal spaces were congested and depraved.

Now and forever, we are not alone.
We have right to believe that we really exist.
The distresses of choice are our chance to be blessed.
Safe in His silence, our songs are at play.
Our lost Appearances are saved by His love.
Its errors forgiven, may our Vision come home.

"All manner of thing shall be well/ When the tongues of flame are in-folded/ Into the crowned knot of fire/ And the fire and the rose are one." -- T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding