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Selected Poetry of W. H. Auden

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This significantly expanded edition of W. H. Auden’s Selected Poems adds twenty poems to the hundred in the original edition, broadening its focus to better reflect the enormous wealth of form, rhetoric, tone, and content in Auden’s work. Newly included are such favorites as “Funeral Blues” and other works that represent Auden’s lighter, comic side, giving a fuller picture This significantly expanded edition of W. H. Auden’s Selected Poems adds twenty poems to the hundred in the original edition, broadening its focus to better reflect the enormous wealth of form, rhetoric, tone, and content in Auden’s work. Newly included are such favorites as “Funeral Blues” and other works that represent Auden’s lighter, comic side, giving a fuller picture of the range of his genius. Also new are brief notes explaining references that may have become obscure to younger generations of readers and a revised introduction that draws on recent additions to knowledge about Auden. As in the original edition, the new Selected Poems makes available the preferred original versions of some thirty poems that Auden revised later in life, making it the best source for enjoying the many facets of Auden’s art in one volume.


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This significantly expanded edition of W. H. Auden’s Selected Poems adds twenty poems to the hundred in the original edition, broadening its focus to better reflect the enormous wealth of form, rhetoric, tone, and content in Auden’s work. Newly included are such favorites as “Funeral Blues” and other works that represent Auden’s lighter, comic side, giving a fuller picture This significantly expanded edition of W. H. Auden’s Selected Poems adds twenty poems to the hundred in the original edition, broadening its focus to better reflect the enormous wealth of form, rhetoric, tone, and content in Auden’s work. Newly included are such favorites as “Funeral Blues” and other works that represent Auden’s lighter, comic side, giving a fuller picture of the range of his genius. Also new are brief notes explaining references that may have become obscure to younger generations of readers and a revised introduction that draws on recent additions to knowledge about Auden. As in the original edition, the new Selected Poems makes available the preferred original versions of some thirty poems that Auden revised later in life, making it the best source for enjoying the many facets of Auden’s art in one volume.

30 review for Selected Poetry of W. H. Auden

  1. 5 out of 5

    Florencia

    I would love to say that I chose this book because I saw it in some library and thanks to my keen eye and awesome brain, I decided to read it because I had this weird hunch that it was going to be amazing. Unfortunately, the reason why I chose it is far less poetic. I think a lot of us got to know this poet because of that movie. From the first time I watched it, I couldn't get a particular poem out of my head. It was recited by a man at his partner's funeral. Such a beautiful and intense poem. I would love to say that I chose this book because I saw it in some library and thanks to my keen eye and awesome brain, I decided to read it because I had this weird hunch that it was going to be amazing. Unfortunately, the reason why I chose it is far less poetic. I think a lot of us got to know this poet because of that movie. From the first time I watched it, I couldn't get a particular poem out of my head. It was recited by a man at his partner's funeral. Such a beautiful and intense poem. Those verses were filled with love and sorrow, vivid images and an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. I loved it. I knew I had to read more about the guy that was able to write such thing. Years and years passed by, and here I am. I found this collection and it was a delightful read. Auden has a very personal style. He wrote about many issues such as love, loss, politics, religion. I'm no expert so I won't analyze forms and structures, but I did love the content. A lovely, evocative, wonderful content. I love when writers can take any ordinary situation and describe it like it's the most miraculous thing in the world and with every beautiful word that their language has to offer. If I have to choose between heartbreaking, bittersweet, intense poetry and this... hmm. What to do? What to do... Tough call. (Yes, I'm still mad about that one.) There are many poems that I loved: "Will you turn a deaf ear"; "The unknown citizen"; "In memory of Sigmund Freud"; "Law, say the gardeners, is the sun"; "The more loving one", "O what is that sound which so thrills the ear", "As I walked out one evening": "…But all the clocks in the city Began to whirr and chime: 'O let not Time deceive you, You cannot conquer Time..." True. Anyway, I should end this review (I really need to find another word to describe these "things") with the most important part of the anecdote I previously shared. The poem I was referring to is "Funeral Blues" (you knew!). Its origins I refuse to believe. It's a beautiful thing to read and that's it. Enjoy. Or weep. Or both. “Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone, Silence the pianos and with muffled drum Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come. Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead, Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public     doves,  Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves. He was my North, my South, my East and West, My working week and my Sunday rest, My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song; I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong. The stars are not wanted now: put out every one; Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun; Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood. For nothing now can ever come to any good.” Feb 23, 14 * Also on my blog.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alok Mishra

    Auden was the best with his whims and average with his thoughts (at times). When he wrote randomly, he produced some of the best poetry. His art of poetry works differently; his craft is crafty and his rhythm is disturbed. Auden's collection of poems is something that any poetry lover would cherish for long. He is the best within his circle of poets. He ranks (for me) with the best evers on occasions very rare... Auden was the best with his whims and average with his thoughts (at times). When he wrote randomly, he produced some of the best poetry. His art of poetry works differently; his craft is crafty and his rhythm is disturbed. Auden's collection of poems is something that any poetry lover would cherish for long. He is the best within his circle of poets. He ranks (for me) with the best evers on occasions very rare...

  3. 4 out of 5

    AC

    This is something really new for me. I only began reading literature again, after a multi-decades long hiatus, 2 yrs ago. Poetry in particular has always been inaccessible to me – I mean, I read a lot of Greek and Latin poetry, of course – but somehow that’s different – but I’ve *never* been able to read poetry in my own language, and have never understand any modern poetry at all. So that I’ve now come to the point of reading Auden is a mark of the progress I’ve made – difficult as it’s been. Wh This is something really new for me. I only began reading literature again, after a multi-decades long hiatus, 2 yrs ago. Poetry in particular has always been inaccessible to me – I mean, I read a lot of Greek and Latin poetry, of course – but somehow that’s different – but I’ve *never* been able to read poetry in my own language, and have never understand any modern poetry at all. So that I’ve now come to the point of reading Auden is a mark of the progress I’ve made – difficult as it’s been. When I decided to start reading poetry last year, I decided on Auden, and bought a nice copy of the Collected Works – and started staring at it. Where TF was I supposed to begin? Reading 700 pages of poetry, what! So the book sat there…. unopened. Then I ran across a couplet by Pound that Gilbert Sorrentino used in Imaginative Qualities and was knocked over by it and said: “I’m gonna do this!” But this time, decided to start small. I’ve ordered a copy of a group of the Cantos, rather than trying to read the whole of it (which is absurd), and “selected poems” of Auden and Paterson (William Carlos Williams) – thinking these would be more manageable… and give me a more plausible point of entry. This is the volume that arrived first, and so I’ll start with this. This is a collection made by Edward Mendelson, who was Auden’s Literary Executor. So he’s a serious Auden guy. And he did something unusual – he put together a collection of Auden’s poems that include the *original*, unrevised version of the early poems – poems that Auden revised extensively or, in some cases, suppressed. So this is different than the reading of a collection that Auden himself constructed. Mendelson does not think that the later versions are inferior – they may often be deeper and more complex. But they do not give the poems in the historical context or in the manner that Auden actually produced them. And having that is valuable in its own right. (Mendelson thus suggests reading this edition first, and then the later revised versions second.) There is also a short introduction on Auden’s poetry and its relation to Modernism that is… simply put, brilliant. Or at least, it’s the first thing that I’ve ever read on poetry that made sense, that was deep, devoid of all jargon… it was like a door opening up… So I’ve started on what is really, for me, a new journey….

  4. 5 out of 5

    Misha

    I bought this book just for the inscription: For Heather... Because poetry can heal the soul. With love, Jason (Dec. 2001) I've spent many an hour wondering about Jason and Heather, whether poetry did in fact heal her soul, and why a gift given with love ended up on the discount clearance rack at Hastings. I'm not so hot on Auden's brand of rhyming poetry. It just doesn't speak to me. Neruda, Whitman, Wordsworth -- these are the poets of my soul. I bought this book just for the inscription: For Heather... Because poetry can heal the soul. With love, Jason (Dec. 2001) I've spent many an hour wondering about Jason and Heather, whether poetry did in fact heal her soul, and why a gift given with love ended up on the discount clearance rack at Hastings. I'm not so hot on Auden's brand of rhyming poetry. It just doesn't speak to me. Neruda, Whitman, Wordsworth -- these are the poets of my soul.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    He is in my pantheon. A brilliant poet who nevertheless is accessible and understandable. And to have written one poem in your life as good as "In Memory of W.B. Yeats" would be enough to ensure access to heaven. It ends with this wonderful appeal to all poets: Follow, poet, follow right To the bottom of the night, With your unconstraining voice Still persuade us to rejoice; With the farming of a verse Make a vineyard of the curse, Sing of human unsuccess In a rapture of distress; In the deserts He is in my pantheon. A brilliant poet who nevertheless is accessible and understandable. And to have written one poem in your life as good as "In Memory of W.B. Yeats" would be enough to ensure access to heaven. It ends with this wonderful appeal to all poets: Follow, poet, follow right To the bottom of the night, With your unconstraining voice Still persuade us to rejoice; With the farming of a verse Make a vineyard of the curse, Sing of human unsuccess In a rapture of distress; In the deserts of the heart Let the healing fountain start, In the prison of his days Teach the free man how to praise.

  6. 4 out of 5

    David M

    I trust few will dispute Auden's genius, what friend Cody might call his prodigious bulge of greatness. A bit like Eliot and a bit like Yeats, not much like Rilke or Stevens. Unafraid of occasional verse or opinion poems. I am perhaps a bit too incorrigibly romantic-modernist in my taste to follow him everywhere - a poem like 'On the Circuit,' for example is hardly my cup of tea. Nonetheless there's plenty here with which I do feel a deep sympathy, and doubtless more will continue to open up in I trust few will dispute Auden's genius, what friend Cody might call his prodigious bulge of greatness. A bit like Eliot and a bit like Yeats, not much like Rilke or Stevens. Unafraid of occasional verse or opinion poems. I am perhaps a bit too incorrigibly romantic-modernist in my taste to follow him everywhere - a poem like 'On the Circuit,' for example is hardly my cup of tea. Nonetheless there's plenty here with which I do feel a deep sympathy, and doubtless more will continue to open up in time. * Auden's early love poems are quite beautiful - the sense of foreboding and tenderness all mixed together. The narrator like a somewhat less pathetic but equally doomed J. Alfred Prufrock 'Lay your sleeping head, my love, Human on my faithless arm (I'm a bit of a sucker when it comes to the human; to use it as an adverb there is what really gets me) * 'For Europe is absent. This is an island and therefore Unreal. And the steadfast affections of its dead may be bought By those whose dream accuse them of being Spitefully alive (while I am of course for too cheap to try and purchase the affections of the dead, my dreams do sometimes accuse me of being spitefully alive, so I can halfway relate) * '...mad Ireland hurt you into poetry Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still For poetry makes nothing happen; it survives In the valley of its saying where executives Would never want to tamper; it flows south From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs, Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives, A way of happening, a mouth. * 'Don Juan, so terrified of death he hears Each moment recommending it, And knows no argument to counter theirs; Trapped in their vile affections, he must find Angels to keep him chaste; a helpless, blind Unhappy spook, he haunts the urinals, Existing solely by their miracles. * I'm not in love with all of Auden's op-ed poems, but The Shield of Achilles is truly remarkable; has it ever been set to music? one of the most moving anti-war statements I know 'The thin-lipped armorer Hephaestos, hobbled away; Thetis of the shining breasts Cried out in dismay At what the god had wrought To please her son, the strong Iron-hearted man-slaying Achilles Who would not live long.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jerome K

    I have a much older edition of Auden's Selected Poems, when his Funeral Blues poem was still part of Two Songs for Hedli Anderson. I love Auden. More and more over the years actually. He's not as quotable as Frost. Or as monumental as Yeats and TS Elliot. He's more like a longtime friend who's not always steady on his feet, occassionally overreaching, a bit heartbroken, a bit bitter, a bit sweet, a whole lot of queen (LOL). If I could meet any poet from the past, I'd choose Auden. I have a much older edition of Auden's Selected Poems, when his Funeral Blues poem was still part of Two Songs for Hedli Anderson. I love Auden. More and more over the years actually. He's not as quotable as Frost. Or as monumental as Yeats and TS Elliot. He's more like a longtime friend who's not always steady on his feet, occassionally overreaching, a bit heartbroken, a bit bitter, a bit sweet, a whole lot of queen (LOL). If I could meet any poet from the past, I'd choose Auden.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Mousseau

    Control of the passes was, he saw, the key To this new district, but who would get it? He, the trained spy, had walked into the trap For a bogus guide, seduced with the old tricks. At Greenhearth was a fine site for a dam And easy powder, had they pushed the rail Some stations nearer. They ignore his wires. The bridges were unbuilt and trouble coming. The street music seemed gracious now to one For weeks up in the desert. Woken by water Running away in the dark, he often had Reproached the night for a comp Control of the passes was, he saw, the key To this new district, but who would get it? He, the trained spy, had walked into the trap For a bogus guide, seduced with the old tricks. At Greenhearth was a fine site for a dam And easy powder, had they pushed the rail Some stations nearer. They ignore his wires. The bridges were unbuilt and trouble coming. The street music seemed gracious now to one For weeks up in the desert. Woken by water Running away in the dark, he often had Reproached the night for a companion Dreamed of already. They would shoot, of course, Parting easily who were never joined. - Control of the passes was, he saw, the key, pg. 3 * * * This lunar beauty Has no history Is complete and early; If beauty later Bears any feature It had a lover And is another. This like a dream Keeps other time And daytime is The loss of this; For time is inches And the heart's changes Where ghost has haunted Lost and wanted. But this was never A ghost's endeavour Nor finished this, Was ghost at ease; And till it pass Love shall not near The sweetness here Nor sorrow take His endless look. - This lunar beauty, pg. 16 * * * Hearing of harvests rotting in the valleys, Seeing at end of street the barren mountains, Round corners coming suddenly on water, Knowing them shipwrecked who were launched for islands, We honour founders of these starving cities, Whose honour is the image of our sorrow. Which cannot see its likeness in their sorrow That brought them desperate to the brink of valleys; Dreaming of evening walks through learned cities, They reined their violent horses on the mountains, Those fields like ships to castaways on islands, Visions of green to them that craved for water. They built by rivers and at night the water Running past windows comforted their sorrow; Each in his little bed conceived of islands Where every day was dancing in the valleys, And all the year trees blossomed on the mountains, Where love was innocent, being far from cities. But dawn came back and they were still in cities; No marvellous creatures rose up from the water, There was still gold and silver in the mountains, And hunger was a more immediate sorrow; Although to moping villagers in valleys Some waving pilgrims were describing islands. "The gods," they promised, "visit us from islands, Are stalking head-up, lovely through the cities; Now is the time to leave your wretched valleys And sail with them across the lime-green water; Sitting at their white sides, forget your sorrow, The shadow cast across your lives by mountains." So many, doubtful, perished in the mountains Climbing up crags to get a view of islands; So many, fearful, took with them their sorrow Which stayed them when they reached unhappy cities; So many, careless, divided and drowned in water; So many, wretched, would not leave their valleys. It is the sorrow; shall it melt? Ah, water Would gush, flush, green these mountains and these valleys, And we rebuild our cities, not dream of islands. - Hearing of harvests rotting in the valleys, pg. 28-29 * * * A shilling life will give you all the facts: How Father beat him, how he ran away, What were the struggles of his youth, what acts Made him the greatest figure of his day: Of how he fought, fished, hunted, worked all night, Though giddy, climbed new mountains; named a sea: Some of the last researchers even write Love made him weep his pints like you and me. With all his honours on, he sighed for one Who, say astonished critics, lived at home; Did little jobs about the house will skill And nothing else; could whistle; would sit still Or potter round the garden; answered some Of his long marvellous letters but kept none. - A shilling life will give you all the facts, pg. 32 * * * Now through night's caressing grip Earth and all her oceans slip, Capes of China slide away From her fingers into day And the Americas incline Coasts towards her shadow line. Now the ragged vagrants creep Into crooked holes to sleep: Just and unjust, worst and best: Awkward lovers lie in fields Where disdainful beauty yields: While the splendid and the proud Naked stand before the crowd And the losing gambler gains And the beggar entertains: May sleep's healing power extended Through these hours to our friend. Unpursued by hostile force, Traction engine, bull or horse Or revolting succubus; Calmly till the morning break Let him lie, then gently wake. - Now through night's caressing grip, pg. 41 * * * What does the song hope for? And the moved hands A little way from the birds, the shy, the delightful? To be bewildered and happy, Or most of all the knowledge of life? But the beautiful are content with the sharp notes of the air; The warmth is enough. O if winter really Oppose, if the weak snowflake, What will the wish, what will the dance do? - Orpheus, pg. 55 * * * So from the years the gifts were showered; each Ran off with his at once into his life: Bee took the politics that make a hive, Fish swam as fish, peach settled into peach. And were successful at the first endeavour; The hour of birth their only time at college, They were content with their precocious knowledge, And knew their station and were good for ever. Till finally there came a childish creature On whom the years could model any feature, And fake with ease a leopard or a dove; Who by the lightest wind was changed and shaken, And looked for truth and was continually mistaken, And envied his few friends and chose his love. - In Time of War, I, pg. 64-65 * * * Quarter of pleasures where the rich are always waiting, Waiting expensively for miracles to happen, O little restaurant where the lovers eat each other, Cafe where exiles have established a malicious village; You with your charm and your apparatus have abolished The strictness of winter and the spring's compulsion; Far from your lights the outraged punitive father, The dullness of mere obedience here is apparent. Yet with orchestras and glances, O, you betray us To believe in our infinite powers; and the innocent Unobservant offender falls in a moment Victim to the heart's invisible furies. In unlighted streets you hide away the appalling; Factories where lives are made for a temporary use Like collars or chairs, rooms where the lonely are battered Slowly like pebbles into fortuitous shapes. But the sky you illuminate, your glow is visible far into the dark countryside, the enormous, the frozen, Where, hinting at the forbidden like a wicked uncle, Night after night to the farmer's children you beckon. - The Capital, pg. 78-79 * * * I sit in one of the dives On Fifty-Second Street Uncertain and afraid As the clever hopes expire Of a low dishonest decade: Waves of anger and fear Circulate over the bright And darkened land of the earth, Obsessing our private lives; The unmentionable odour of death Offends the September night. Accurate scholarship can Unearth the whole offence From Luther until now That has driven a culture mad, Find what occurred at Linz, What huge imago made A psychopathic god: I and the public know What all schoolchildren learn, Those to whom evil is done Do evil in return. Exiled Thucydides knew All that a speech can say About Democracy, And what dictators do, The elderly rubbish they talk To an apathetic grave; Analysed all in his book, The enlightenment driven away, The habit-forming pain, Mismanagement and grief: We must suffer them all again. Into this neutral air Where blind skyscrapers use Their full height to proclaim The strength of Collective Man, Each language pours its vain Competitive excuse: But show can live for long In an euphoric dream; Out of the mirror they stare, Imperialism's face And the international wrong. Faces along the bar Cling to their average day: The lights must never go out, The music must always play, All the conventions conspire To make this fort assume The furniture of home; Lest we should see where we are, Lost in a haunted wood, Children afraid of the night Who have never been happy or good. The windiest militant trash Important Persons shout Is not so crude as our wish: What mad Nijinski wrote About Diaghilev Is true of the normal heart; For the error bred in the bone Of each woman and each man Craves what it cannot have, Not universal love But to be loved alone. From the conservative dark Into the ethical life The dense commuters come, Repeating their morning vow, "I will be true to the wife, I'll concentrate more on my work," And helpless governors wake To resume their compulsory game: Who can release them now, Who can reach the deaf, Who can speak for the dumb? All I have is a voice To undo the folded lie, The romantic lie in the brain Of the sensual man-in-the-street And the lie of Authority Whose buildings grope the sky: There is no such thing as the State And no one exists alone; Hunger allows no choice To the citizen or the police; We must love one another or die. Defenceless under the night Our world in stupor lies; Yet, dotted everywhere, Ironic points of light Flash out wherever the Just Exchange their messages: May I, composed like them Of Eros and of dust, Beleaguered by the same Negation and despair, Show an affirming flame. - September 1, 1939, pg. 86-89 * * * Lady, weeping at the crossroads Would you meet your love In the twilight with his greyhounds. And the hawk on his glove? Bribe the birds then on the branches, Bribe them to be dumb, Stare the hot sun out of heaven That the night may come. Starless are the nights of travel, Bleak the winter wing; Run with terror all before you And regret behind. Run until you hear the ocean's Everlasting cry; Deep though it may be and bitter You must drink it dry. Wear out patience in the lowest Dungeons of the sea, Searching through the standard shipwreck For the golden key. Push on to the world's end, pay the Dread guard with a kiss; Cross the rotten bridge that totters Over the abyss. There stands the deserted castle Ready to explore; Enter, climb the marble staircase Open the locked door. Cross the silent empty ballroom, Doubt and danger past; Blow the cobwebs from the mirror See yourself at last. Put your hand behind the wainscot, You have done your part; Find the penknife there and plunge it Into your false heart. - Lady, weeping at the crossroads, pg. 95-96 * * * Time will say nothing but I told you so, Time only knows the price we have to pay; If I could tell you I would let you know. If we should weep when clowns put on their show, If we should stumble when musicians play, Time will say nothing bu I told you so. There are no fortunes to be told, although, Because I love you more than I can say, If I could tell you I would let you know. The winds must come from somewhere when they blow, There must be reasons when the leaves decay; Time will say nothing but I told you so. Perhaps the roses really want to grow, The vision seriously intends to stay; If I could tell you I would let you know. Suppose the lions all get up and go, And all the brooks and soldiers run away; Will Time say nothing but I told you so? If I could tell you I would let you know. - But I Can't, pg. 110-111 * * * The first time that I dreamed, we were in flight, And fagged with running; there was civil war, A valley full of thieves and wounded bears. Farms blazed behind us; turning to the right, We came at once to a tall house, its door Wide open, waiting for its long-lost heirs. An elderly clerk sat on the bedroom stairs Writing; but we had tiptoed past him when He raised his head and stuttered - "Go away." We wept and begged to stay: He wiped his pince-nez, hesitated, then Said no, he had no power to give us leave, Our lives were not in order; we must leave. * The second dream began in a May wood; We had been laughing; your blue eyes were kind, Your excellent nakedness without disdain. Our lips met, wishing universal good; But on their impact sudden flame and wind Fetched you away and turned me loose again To make a focus for a wide wild plain, Dead level and dead silent and bone dry, Where nothing could have suffered, sinned, or grown. On a higher chair alone I sat, a little master, asking why The cold and solid object in my hands Should be a human hand, one of your hands. * And the last dream was this: we were to go To a great banquet and a Victory Ball After some tournament or dangerous test. Only our seats had velvet cushions, so We must have won; though there were crowns for all, Ours were of gold, of paper all the rest. O fair or funny was each famous guest. Love smiled at Courage over priceless glass, And rockets died in hundreds to express Our learned carelessness. A band struck up; all over the green grass A sea of paper crowns rose up to dance: Ours were too heavy; we did not dance. * I woke. You were not there. But as I dressed Anxiety turned to shame, feeling all three Intended one rebuke. For had not each In its own way tried to teach My will to love you that it cannot be, As I think, of such consequence to want What anyone is given, if they want? - The Lesson, pg. 125-127 * * * How still it is; the horses Have moved into the shade, the mothers Have followed their migrating gardens. Curlews on kettle moraines Foretell the end of time, The doom of paradox. But lovelorn sighs ascend From wretched greedy regions Which cannot include themselves. And the freckled orphan flinging Ducks and drakes at the pond Stops looking for stones, And wishes he were a steamboat, Or Lugalzaggisi the loud Tyrant of Erech and Umma. - Noon, pg. 175 * * * The piers are pummelled by the waves; In a lonely field the rain Lashes an abandoned train; Outlaws fill the mountain caves. Fantastic grow the evening gowns; Agents of the Fisc pursue Absconding tax-defaulters through The sewers of provincial towns. Private rites of magic send The temple prostitutes to sleep; All the literati keep An imaginary friend. Cerebrotonic Cato may Extoll the Ancient Disciplines, But the muscle-bound Marines Mutiny for food and pay. Caesar's double-bed is warm As an unimportant clerk Writes I DO NOT LIKE MY WORK On a pink official form. Unendowed with wealth or pity, Little birds with scarlet legs, Sitting on their speckled eggs, Eye each flu-infected city. Altogether elsewhere, vast Herds of reindeer move across Miles and miles of golden moss, Silently and very fast. - The Fall of Rome, for Cyril Connolly, pg. 183-184 * * * Make this night loveable, Moon, and with eye single Looking down from up there, Bless me, One especial And friends everywhere. With a cloudless brightness Surround our absence; Innocent be our sleeps, Watched by great still spaces, White hills, glittering deeps. Parted by circumstance, Grant each your indulgence That we may meet in dreams For talk, for dalliance, By warm hearths, by cool streams. Shine last tonight any, In the dark suddenly, Wake alone in a bed To hear his own fury Wishing his love were dead. - Nocturne, pg. 201-202 * * * Looking up at the stars, I know quite well That, for all they care, I can go to hell, But no earth indifference is the least We have to dread from man or beast. How should we like it were stars to burn With a passion for us we could not return? If equal affection cannot be, Let the more loving one be me. Admirer as I think I am Of stars that do not give a damn, I cannot, now I see them, say I missed one terribly all day. Were all stars to disappear or die, I should learn to look at an empty sky And feel its total dark sublime, Though this might take me a little time. - The More Loving One, pg. 237 * * * Really, must you, Over-familiar Dense companion, Be there always? The bond between us Is chemerical surely: Yet I cannot break it. Must I, born for Sacred play, Turn base mechanic So you may worship Your secular bread, With no thought Of the value of time? Thus far I have known your Character only From its pleasanter side, But you know I know A day will come When you grow savage And hurt me badly. Totally stupid? Would that you were: But, no, you plague me With tastes I was fool enough Once to believe in. Bah!, blockhead: I know where you learn them. Can I trust you even On creaturely fact? I suspect strongly You hold some dogma Of positive truth, And feed me fictions: I shall never prove it. Oh, I know how you came by A sinner's cranium, How between two glaciers The master-chronometer Of an innocent primate Altered its tempi: That explains nothing. Who tinkered and why? Why am I certain, Whatever your faults are, The fault is mien, Why is loneliness not A chemical discomfort, Nor Being a smell? - You, pg. 245-246 * * * Who, now, seeing Her so Happily married, Housewife, helpmate to Man, Can imagine the screeching Virago, the Amazon, Earth Mother was? Her jungle growths Are abated, Her exorbitant Monsters abashed, Her soil mumbled, Where crops, aligned precisely, Will soon be orient: Levant or couchant, Well-daunted thoroughbreds Graze on mead and pasture, A church clock subdivides the day, Up the lane at sundown Geese podge home. As for Him: What has happened to the Brute Epics and nightmares tell of? No bishops pursue Their archdeacons with axes, In the crumbling lair Of a robber baron Sightseers picnic Who carry no daggers. I well might think myself A humanist, Could I manage not to see How the autobahn Thwarts the landscape In godless Roman arrogance, The farmer's children Tiptoe past the shed Where the gelding knife is kept. - Et in Arcadia Ego, pg. 250-251 * * * The Ogre does what ogres can, Deeds quite impossible for Man, But one prize is beyond his reach, The Ogre cannot master Speech: About a subjugated plain Among its desperate and slain, The Ogre stalks with hands on hips, While drivel gushes from his lips. - August 1968, pg. 291 * * * The archaeologist's spade delves into dwellings vacancied long ago, unearthing evidence of life-ways no one would dream of leading now, concerning which he has not much to say that he can prove: the lucky man! Knowledge may have it purposes, bu guessing is always more fun than knowing. We do know that Man, from fear of affection, has always graved His dead. What disastered a city, volcanic effusion, fluvial outrage, or a human horde, agog for slaves and glory, is visually patent, and we're pretty sure that, as soon as palaces were built, their rulers, though gluttoned on sex and blanded by flattery, must often have yawned. But do grain-pits signify a year of famine? Where a coin-series peters out, should we infer some major catastrophe? Maybe. Maybe. From murals and statues we get a glimpse of what the Old Ones bowed down to, but cannot conceit in what situations they blushed or shrugged their shoulders. Poets have learned us their myths, but just how did They take them? That's a stumper. When Norsemen heard thunder, did they seriously believe Thor was hammering? No, I'd say: I'd swear that men have always lounged in myths as Tall Stories, that their real earnest has been to grant excuses for ritual actions. Only in rites can we renounce our oddities and be truly entired. Not that all rites should be equally fonded: some are abominable. There's nothing the Crucified would like less than butchery to appease Him. CODA From Archaeology one moral, at least, may be drawn, to wit, that all our school text-books

  9. 5 out of 5

    Madeline

    Lovely stuff. One of my favorites is a poem he wrote for Sigmund Freud after his death - it's long, so here's a bit of it: "In Memory of Sigmund Freud When there are so many we shall have to mourn, when grief has been made so public, and exposed to the critique of a whole epoch the frailty of our conscience and anguish, of whom shall we speak? For every day they die among us, those who were doing us some good, who knew it was never enough but hoped to improve a little by living. ... but he would have us re Lovely stuff. One of my favorites is a poem he wrote for Sigmund Freud after his death - it's long, so here's a bit of it: "In Memory of Sigmund Freud When there are so many we shall have to mourn, when grief has been made so public, and exposed to the critique of a whole epoch the frailty of our conscience and anguish, of whom shall we speak? For every day they die among us, those who were doing us some good, who knew it was never enough but hoped to improve a little by living. ... but he would have us remember most of all to be enthusiastic over the night, not only for the sense of wonder it alone has to offer, but also because it needs our love. With large sad eyes its delectable creatures look up and beg us dumbly to ask them to follow: they are exiles who long for the future that lives in our power, they too would rejoice if allowed to serve enlightenment like him, even to bear our cry of 'Judas', as he did and all must bear who serve it." Read for: Modern Poetry

  10. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Gibson

    I have had a hard bound copy of this volume for many years. I contains fragments and restorations of many unknown or unpublished poems. There are moments here where your hear soars. The life of man is never quite completed; The daring and the chatter will go on: But, as an artist feels his power gone, These walk the earth and know themselves defeated. Some could not bear nor break the young and mourn for The wounded myths that once made nations good, Some lost a world they never understood, Some I have had a hard bound copy of this volume for many years. I contains fragments and restorations of many unknown or unpublished poems. There are moments here where your hear soars. The life of man is never quite completed; The daring and the chatter will go on: But, as an artist feels his power gone, These walk the earth and know themselves defeated. Some could not bear nor break the young and mourn for The wounded myths that once made nations good, Some lost a world they never understood, Some saw too clearly all that man was born for. Loss is their shadow-wife, Anxiety Receives them like a grand hotel; but where They may regret they must; their life, to hear The call of the forbidden cities, see The stranger watch them with a happy stare, And Freedom hostile in each home and tree.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    4.4 stars. Almost 5, I was very tempted. This was very good. Now I can say that I have read something from Auden.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kendrick

    I can appreciate Auden's writing, but I find the flow of his poems in general to not work for me I can appreciate Auden's writing, but I find the flow of his poems in general to not work for me

  13. 5 out of 5

    Abby

    The best of one of the best. Long, thoughtful. It's been a while since I've had to read such heady poems. Auden likes to write poems for people too, which is quite nice. I felt like I had to turn on a different part of my brain to read his work. It was a healthy exercise. The best of one of the best. Long, thoughtful. It's been a while since I've had to read such heady poems. Auden likes to write poems for people too, which is quite nice. I felt like I had to turn on a different part of my brain to read his work. It was a healthy exercise.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lexi (Pink Jellyfish)

    i really loved it....he has some poems that move you to tears... my favourite is Funeral Blues

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jared

    Auden's poems hold onto you and don't let go. Auden's poems hold onto you and don't let go.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    I don't think this is exactly the edition I read, although mine (the Everyman Pocket Poet edition, which wasn’t listed on Goodreads) is also edited by Edward Mendelson. My favorites from this volume are A Thanksgiving, Archaeology, The History of Truth, The Shield of Achilles, First Things First, The Fall of Rome, In Memory of W.B. Yeats, Funeral Blues, and At Last the Secret is Out. After reading through this book of poems, I now want to read everything Auden has written—I love how at least hal I don't think this is exactly the edition I read, although mine (the Everyman Pocket Poet edition, which wasn’t listed on Goodreads) is also edited by Edward Mendelson. My favorites from this volume are A Thanksgiving, Archaeology, The History of Truth, The Shield of Achilles, First Things First, The Fall of Rome, In Memory of W.B. Yeats, Funeral Blues, and At Last the Secret is Out. After reading through this book of poems, I now want to read everything Auden has written—I love how at least half of his poems involve applying a striking historical or mythical image to a modern scenario, or weaving together an ancient and modern story with similar themes and problems (as in The Shield of Achilles), thus teaching us about both the past and present simultaneously. His metaphors and idioms are fresh and modern, but at the same time usually grounded in strictly formal rhyme and meter. If I had to choose one line of Auden’s to express his poetry, it would be this one: "With the farming of a verse/ Make a vineyard of the curse."

  17. 5 out of 5

    عماد العتيلي

    ‎‫‏‬‬‬‬‬ “O what is that sound which so thrills the ears Down in the valley drumming, drumming? Only the scarlet soldiers, dear The soldiers coming!” ‎‫‏‬‬‬‬‬ What an amazing selection of Auden’s poetry. I loved so many poems and some of them even moved me to tears. I’m thankful for having this opportunity to know W.H. Auden. He proved to me that he is such a delicate soul with which I have so much in common. I recommend reading this collection. ‎‫‏‬‬‬‬‬ “O what is that sound which so thrills the ears Down in the valley drumming, drumming? Only the scarlet soldiers, dear The soldiers coming!” ‎‫‏‬‬‬‬‬ What an amazing selection of Auden’s poetry. I loved so many poems and some of them even moved me to tears. I’m thankful for having this opportunity to know W.H. Auden. He proved to me that he is such a delicate soul with which I have so much in common. I recommend reading this collection.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lawrence

    I really enjoyed finally sitting down with Auden -- though I definitely need to read him and Joseph Brodsky side-by-side, and I'd like to read more about his queerness and how it might have influenced his work. I feel like I've barely scratched the surface. But I'm keen for more! I really enjoyed finally sitting down with Auden -- though I definitely need to read him and Joseph Brodsky side-by-side, and I'd like to read more about his queerness and how it might have influenced his work. I feel like I've barely scratched the surface. But I'm keen for more!

  19. 4 out of 5

    DeadWeight

    He's trash. He's trash.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Phil

    Really enjoyed many of these poems, although I often needed help getting at the marrow. Alan Jacobs is a tremendous help: https://www.firstthings.com/article/2... https://www.firstthings.com/article/1... https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/08/op... Believe it or not, I found this book in the little 'pay what you want' pile by the door of my local grocery store in little-town Quebec. Brilliant! Really enjoyed many of these poems, although I often needed help getting at the marrow. Alan Jacobs is a tremendous help: https://www.firstthings.com/article/2... https://www.firstthings.com/article/1... https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/08/op... Believe it or not, I found this book in the little 'pay what you want' pile by the door of my local grocery store in little-town Quebec. Brilliant!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ilya Gandelman

    Apparently I'm not a big fan. Apparently I'm not a big fan.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    reading auden takes such emotional energy for me. he has such a terrific talent, and a completely unique cadence among the modern poets. what hurts is the knowledge that -- too soon -- he left his art. after publishing "September 1, 1939" which drove thousand of spaniards to a grisly grave, auden wrote that his greatest wish was to never again write a single word of consequence. unfortunately for us all, he succeeded. September 1, 1939 I sit in one of the dives On Fifty-second Street Uncertain an reading auden takes such emotional energy for me. he has such a terrific talent, and a completely unique cadence among the modern poets. what hurts is the knowledge that -- too soon -- he left his art. after publishing "September 1, 1939" which drove thousand of spaniards to a grisly grave, auden wrote that his greatest wish was to never again write a single word of consequence. unfortunately for us all, he succeeded. September 1, 1939 I sit in one of the dives On Fifty-second Street Uncertain and afraid As the clever hopes expire Of a low dishonest decade: Waves of anger and fear Circulate over the bright And darkened lands of the earth, Obsessing our private lives; The unmentionable odour of death Offends the September night. Accurate scholarship can Unearth the whole offence From Luther until now That has driven a culture mad, Find what occurred at Linz, What huge imago made A psychopathic god: I and the public know What all schoolchildren learn, Those to whom evil is done Do evil in return. Exiled Thucydides knew All that a speech can say About Democracy, And what dictators do, The elderly rubbish they talk To an apathetic grave; Analysed all in his book, The enlightenment driven away, The habit-forming pain, Mismanagement and grief: We must suffer them all again. Into this neutral air Where blind skyscrapers use Their full height to proclaim The strength of Collective Man, Each language pours its vain Competitive excuse: But who can live for long In an euphoric dream; Out of the mirror they stare, Imperialism's face And the international wrong. Faces along the bar Cling to their average day: The lights must never go out, The music must always play, All the conventions conspire To make this fort assume The furniture of home; Lest we should see where we are, Lost in a haunted wood, Children afraid of the night Who have never been happy or good. The windiest militant trash Important Persons shout Is not so crude as our wish: What mad Nijinsky wrote About Diaghilev Is true of the normal heart; For the error bred in the bone Of each woman and each man Craves what it cannot have, Not universal love But to be loved alone. From the conservative dark Into the ethical life The dense commuters come, Repeating their morning vow; "I will be true to the wife, I'll concentrate more on my work," And helpless governors wake To resume their compulsory game: Who can release them now, Who can reach the deaf, Who can speak for the dumb? All I have is a voice To undo the folded lie, The romantic lie in the brain Of the sensual man-in-the-street And the lie of Authority Whose buildings grope the sky: There is no such thing as the State And no one exists alone; Hunger allows no choice To the citizen or the police; We must love one another or die. Defenceless under the night Our world in stupor lies; Yet, dotted everywhere, Ironic points of light Flash out wherever the Just Exchange their messages: May I, composed like them Of Eros and of dust, Beleaguered by the same Negation and despair, Show an affirming flame.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dan Douglas

    We once had a company-wide email survey which asked 'What is your favorite genre of book?' The categories were 1) Mystery, 2) Romance, 3) Science Fiction, 4) Non-fiction, 5) Poetry, 6) Horror, 7) Realistic Fiction, and 8) Fantasy. A few thousand responded. Not even 15 picked Poetry. That wasn't that surprising but it was a little surprising. I thought about why people don't read poetry. We listen to song lyrics constantly. Poetry isn't that different. I think it's because poetry's pure form isn' We once had a company-wide email survey which asked 'What is your favorite genre of book?' The categories were 1) Mystery, 2) Romance, 3) Science Fiction, 4) Non-fiction, 5) Poetry, 6) Horror, 7) Realistic Fiction, and 8) Fantasy. A few thousand responded. Not even 15 picked Poetry. That wasn't that surprising but it was a little surprising. I thought about why people don't read poetry. We listen to song lyrics constantly. Poetry isn't that different. I think it's because poetry's pure form isn't the physical book. Poetry started as live readings, live tellings, live story-telling. Poetry can be read at short bursts from a book but there's nothing like hearing a poet do a well done reading. Most people don't have that opportunity. It was a fluke that one day I stumbled on a video of Auden reading As I Walked Out One Evening. Something in the nooks and crannies of his stodgy ethereal British intonation did something for me. He had a real feeling about what he was reading and it was incredibly sad. Many months later I was perusing a Half Price Books and came across a cheap version of this Selected Poems. I've probably read all the poems in this book five or six times. Enjoying poetry requires a pure capacity to enjoy words without context. Words without plot or sometimes even sequences of action. Words for words sake. Most people don't like words that much. They don't like words unless the words do something other than just be themselves. They need a grand idea, or a murder, or a love story. And the words are just the messengers. Over the years Auden has become pure enjoyment to me. This book is always on my bedside table and two or three of every ten nights I will pick it up and read and be just as enraptured as the first time I read him. I can't quite explain it but even if I could I wouldn't really want to.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michael Arnold

    I will never stop reading Auden for the first time, I can't help but feel. I will never stop reading Auden for the first time, I can't help but feel.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Martin Bihl

    I didn't come to Auden with many preconceptions, so I really didn't know what to expect when I began reading this volume of his poems. Sure, sure, i'd heard "funeral blues", and i had some vague understanding of him as leaning towards the left in the thirties. But his style? His way of writing? Not much. In his introduction, Mendelson says that Auden was the first poet at home in the twentieth century, and I didn't really understand what this meant until i got to the famous poem "September 1, 193 I didn't come to Auden with many preconceptions, so I really didn't know what to expect when I began reading this volume of his poems. Sure, sure, i'd heard "funeral blues", and i had some vague understanding of him as leaning towards the left in the thirties. But his style? His way of writing? Not much. In his introduction, Mendelson says that Auden was the first poet at home in the twentieth century, and I didn't really understand what this meant until i got to the famous poem "September 1, 1939". This is a poem that is so purely in the moment, so purely an expression of a thinking, feeling person trying to make sense of what it means to be alive at a terrible historic moment, that it literally takes my breath away. And it is what makes Auden unique. Yeats would wrap himself in Irish mysticism. Eliot would disappear up a wormhole of obscure encyclopedic references. But at his best, Auden was right there, in the 20th century, standing at the bar, on the subway platform, in the lane, with you as the planes roared overhead. Sure sure, he misses. And sure, there's much here that totally eludes me. But that's okay - because there are those poems that articulate our lives, and that more than pays the bill. [By the way, this volume does not include "Funeral Blues", which seems to me to be a horrific omission and really diminishes the collection as a whole.:]

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lydia St Giles

    Picking my Top Ten books of poetry poses a question. With books on gardening, it was not difficult to put the books in order of importance. But how should I list the poets? In date order, medieval verse first? If ten centuries were represented, that might suit. Since my choices are mainly modern, I’ve opted for alphabetical order. W H Auden tops the list with his Selected Poems. This is a substantial volume, with one hundred poems listed. If I were destined for that Desert Island, this would be o Picking my Top Ten books of poetry poses a question. With books on gardening, it was not difficult to put the books in order of importance. But how should I list the poets? In date order, medieval verse first? If ten centuries were represented, that might suit. Since my choices are mainly modern, I’ve opted for alphabetical order. W H Auden tops the list with his Selected Poems. This is a substantial volume, with one hundred poems listed. If I were destined for that Desert Island, this would be on the shortlist for my one book. That’s partly because poetry can be read and re-read without losing its power. The choice of Auden in particular is because of the breadth of subject-matter - lines of love, of landscape, of family (“the cocky little ogre” is a friend’s baby) but above all his concern for the world around him. On a desert island, I would need those reminders of the city, of the pressures on ordinary people of the day and the international conflict of his own times. In six lines, he writes an ‘Epitaph on a Tyrant’, finishing with “when he cried the little children died in the streets”. Titles such as ‘In Time of War’, ‘Refugee Blues’ and ‘The Unknown Citizen’ would certainly evoke the world I’d left behind. Although these were written decades ago, they are powerful still today.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    So this site isn't great for recording different versions of what, in fairness, is a fairly generic title: 'Selected Poems'. Last year, I spent four months reading the Faber Selected Auden, which is massive. (I recently found an even bigger brick, the Faber Complete Auden, that I must have bought in my teens ... I might wait another few decades to tackle that one.) I absolutely LOVED that, but was daunted by the fact that it's over 500 pages and I'd annotated the hell out of it and so the review So this site isn't great for recording different versions of what, in fairness, is a fairly generic title: 'Selected Poems'. Last year, I spent four months reading the Faber Selected Auden, which is massive. (I recently found an even bigger brick, the Faber Complete Auden, that I must have bought in my teens ... I might wait another few decades to tackle that one.) I absolutely LOVED that, but was daunted by the fact that it's over 500 pages and I'd annotated the hell out of it and so the review was possibly going to take as long as the reading. I never brought myself to it in the end. Fast forward to this summer, and I found a (possibly) first edition of the Penguin Selected Auden in an antique/jumble shop in Crystal Palace. Obviously I had to save it, even though the man wanted cash! In a pandemic! Let's just say it was a stressful two pounds. Anyway, it was a good time, it contains some of my favourites, and I enjoyed that it was selected by Auden himself. Like a lot of people, my first introduction to Auden was in 'Four Weddings and a Funeral'. My mother wants me to read 'Stop all the clocks' (or as it goes by in this collection, 'Two Songs for Hedli Anderson') at her funeral and often asks me to recite it from memory. It's probably a good thing that I like this poem; time, and many repetitions, has not dulled its lustre. I became a real stan after that Faber collection, but I will admit that a) this is mainly because of 'O Tell me the Truth about Love' and b) I have NO idea what he's on about most of the time, particularly with that prose-poem fanfic of The Tempest that is Very Long (good! but long! and I didn't get most of it). This - much smaller - selection, by a different publisher too, Goodreads, goddammit, is less overall enticing. Possibly if I'd read this one first I would not have come away such a rock-solid Auden stan. Yet again, the time-order component of the reading experience carries the majority of the influence. Taller Today: "Because the Adversary put too easy questions On lonely roads." Two Songs for Hedli Anderson: (Definitely the second song is unfamiliar to me!) "O last night I dreamed of you, Johnny, my lover, You'd the sun on one arm and the moon on the other, The sea it was blue and the grass it was green, Every star rattled a round tambourine; Ten thousand miles deep in a pit there I lay; But you frowned like thunder and you went away." Victor. A Ballad: "Victor looked up at the sunset As he stood there all alone; Cried: 'Are you in Heaven, Father?' But the sky said 'Address not known'." This poem is deeply fucked up. Do I wish Auden united his exquisite grasp of form with his appreciation for Awful Men less often? Yes. Does he do it with incredible skill? Also yes. The Dead Echo: "The earth is an oyster with nothing inside it, Not to be born is the best for man; The end of toil is a bailiff's order, Throw down the mattock and dance while you can." I'm starting to suspect old W.H. was a bit of a cynic. In Memory of W.B. Yeats: "Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still, For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives In the valley of its saying where executives Would never want to tamper; it flows south From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs, Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives A way of happening, a mouth." Yeah, okay, maybe, a bit. If I Could Tell You: "Time will say nothing but I told you so, Time only knows the price we have to pay; If I could tell you I would let you know." Caliban to the Audience: "We want no Ariel here, breaking down our picket fences in the name of fraternity, seducing our wives in the name of romance, and robbing us of our sacred pecuniary deposits in the name of justice." "[...] of observing some fresh detail in the complex process by which the heady wine of amusement is distilled from the grape of composition." "Religion and culture seem to be represented by a catholic belief that something is lacking which much be found, but as to what that something is, the keys of heaven, the missing heir, genius, the smells of childhood, or a sense of humour, why it is lacking, whether it has been deliberately stolen, or accidentally lost or just hidden for a lark, and who is responsible, our ancestors, ourselves, the social structure, or mysterious wicked powers, there are as many faiths as there are searchers, and clues can be found behind every clock, under every stone, and in every hollow tree to support all of them." One Circumlocution: "Poems which make us cry direct us to Ourselves at our least apt, least kind, least true, Where a blank I loves blankly a blank You?" Precious Five: "A tight arthritic paw Waving about in praise Of those homeric days Is impious and obscene: Grow, hands, into those living Hands by which true hands should be By making and by giving To hands you cannot see." A Permanent Way: "And what could be greater fun, Once one has chosen and paid, Than the inexpensive delight Of a choice one might have made." Woods: "This great society is going smash; They cannot fool us with how fast they go, How much they cost each other and the gods! A culture is no better than its woods." Fact. Mountains: "What? Five minutes? For an uncatlike Creature who has gone wrong, Five minutes on even the nicest mountain Is awfully long." IT ME. Vespers: "In my Eden a person who dislikes Bellini has the good manners not to get born; In his New Jerusalem a person who dislikes work will be very sorry he was born. In my Eden we have a few beam-engines, saddle-tank locomotives, overshot waterwheels and other beautiful pieces of obsolete machinery to play with: In his New Jerusalem even chefs will be cucumber-cool machine minders." I know which one I'd like to live in ... and which one I do. "On whose immolation (call him Abel, Remus, whom you will, it is one Sin Offering) arcadias, utopias, our dear old bag of a democracy, are alike founded: For without a cement of blood (it must be human, it must be innocent) no secular wall will safely stand." Talk about a 2020 MOOD. Favourites: The Three Companions; One Evening; Roman Wall Blues; A New Age; Epitaph on a Tyrant; Alonso to Ferdinand; The Managers; A Household.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    I'm re-reading Auden's poems out of this volume. "What does the song hope for? And the moved hands/A little way from the birds, the shy, the delightful?" Auden's verse is magnificent; he writes his villanelles and sonnets without a trace of the "unctious urbanity" that those forms are seen, by many readers today, to represent. He knows what he's doing, yet doesn't wantonly careen into that indecipherable "academic" enclave of poetry that finds such disdain for simple language and traditional for I'm re-reading Auden's poems out of this volume. "What does the song hope for? And the moved hands/A little way from the birds, the shy, the delightful?" Auden's verse is magnificent; he writes his villanelles and sonnets without a trace of the "unctious urbanity" that those forms are seen, by many readers today, to represent. He knows what he's doing, yet doesn't wantonly careen into that indecipherable "academic" enclave of poetry that finds such disdain for simple language and traditional forms. Auden wants to make things palpable, wants to leave you shaken yet better off in terms of how you think and feel about things. I'm in awe of that. Read "But I Can't" and tell me you aren't, too.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Krishan

    So much to say about Auden. It's a pleasure to read a poet who's range of style and subject nearly the entire galaxy of poetry, from little haikus and ironic stand-alone couplets, to lengthy meditations on religion and literature and history, to wonderful little pastoral poems. His breathed new life into old forms at a time when modernist poets were abandoning older teachings. They sound great when read aloud or to oneself. Don't forget to get this in addition to his W H Auden Collected Poems, for So much to say about Auden. It's a pleasure to read a poet who's range of style and subject nearly the entire galaxy of poetry, from little haikus and ironic stand-alone couplets, to lengthy meditations on religion and literature and history, to wonderful little pastoral poems. His breathed new life into old forms at a time when modernist poets were abandoning older teachings. They sound great when read aloud or to oneself. Don't forget to get this in addition to his W H Auden Collected Poems, for that edition lacks many great poems that Auden removed from his own canon, because of his conversion to Anglican Christianity.

  30. 5 out of 5

    SierraLimaMike

    A comprehensive collection & a great introduction to the poetry of W.H. Auden. I read this book after seeing it listed on a recommended reading list from my English A Level teacher but it was a real surprise & a real gem. Auden takes the traditional forms of poetry & makes them his own which makes his work really accessible, especially because he tends to take a realistic look at life's great events while still maintaining some Romance & drama. There were so many lines which I underlined simply A comprehensive collection & a great introduction to the poetry of W.H. Auden. I read this book after seeing it listed on a recommended reading list from my English A Level teacher but it was a real surprise & a real gem. Auden takes the traditional forms of poetry & makes them his own which makes his work really accessible, especially because he tends to take a realistic look at life's great events while still maintaining some Romance & drama. There were so many lines which I underlined simply for their beauty or because they expressed something which I felt I could relate to. Auden is witty, sensitive & honest & I would recommend this book, even if you're not usually a poetry reader, whether you want something to dip in & out of or whether you intend to read it all at once.

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