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Thread: W H Auden

  1. #1
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    W H Auden

    How highly do you rate W H Auden?

  2. #2
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    That's a good question. Whenever I read an Auden poem, it always seems vague. Maybe it's me but there's something about his syntax that leaves me wondering what he just said. But I will also acknowledge there are some great moments. So I just don't know. I need to spend more time with his work. Sorry this is short and without examples, but I just don't have the time.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

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    It was Auden who occasioned my interest in poetry to begin with. A brilliant
    poet, one whom I would rate very highly. He was sciential, but often his
    scientific interests were fairly prominent, and like many scientists he was
    inclined to be slightly dogmatic on occasion. But this can hardly detract
    from the quality of his work, which was effulgent, whether it be the shorter
    lyrical pieces such as 'fish in the unruffled lakes' or 'the master and boatswain',
    or more ambitious pieces like 'the shield of Achilles' and 'letter to lord byron'.
    Always intellectual, analytical and dissecting.
    But more importantly, what do you think of Auden.

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    what would you recommend from the poetry of Auden, for those who learned about it recently?

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    I recommend you forage out a copy of his collected poems, and clear your timetable!

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    Obviously, the 'Collected Poems' are well worth reading, but if you don't have the time, then don't worry - you can always work up to it. Auden wrote many excellent poems, and any selection is bound to contain wonderful verse. 'Tell Me the Truth About Love' contains 15 of Auden's most accessible poems. However, Auden is not a trivial poet, and that's why I wouldn't limit myself to the 'songs' exclusively. For individual poems, 'Musée des Beax-Arts', 'In Memory of W.B. Yeats' and 'September 1, 1939' are all memorable, moving poems. From then, the delight is in exploring. You will no doubt find your own Auden, the poems and periods of his career that you find the most interesting.

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    Read the early Auden of the 30's, he is important as a purveyor of doom pre, fascism, the old Auden after the war became an Anglican.

  8. #8
    King of Dreams MorpheusSandman's Avatar
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    Auden is my favorite poet of the 20th century, probably because he's the only one I can name that wrote in almost every single form and style and wrote masterpieces in all of them. The variety of tones, themes, voices, metaphors, and imagery in his work is astounding. In an era of poetic hedgehogs, he was mostly definitely a fox, and I think the reason he's underrated by so many is that he frustrates those looking for a single, coherent voice. I really think the only knock against Auden is that in later life he tried to revise his early poetry to fit and express his beliefs, rather than embracing his nearly unparalleled ability (at least by authors of the 20th Century) to express as many disparate views imaginable. He's also a vastly underrated critic (His Dyer's Hand is superb).

    Unfortunately for some, to really appreciate Auden requires reading more of his work than it may other poets. I can always recommend JUST Harmonium by Stevens, or Spring And All by Williams, or The Four Quartets by Eliot, or The Changing Light at Sandover by Merrill, and a reader will have in their possession enough poetry to appreciate those poets. Auden is different, because I think appreciating him is more of a cumulative thing. The Collected Poems is necessary for appreciating Late Auden, The Selected Poems is necessary for appreciating early Auden, The Age of Anxiety & Collected Longer Poems are necessary for appreciating Auden at his grandest, and As I Walked Out One Evening is necessary for appreciating Auden at his lightest. It's a shame there's so much overlap between these volumes. Auden is really in dire need of a Complete Edition series with a scrupulous editor.
    "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being." --Carl Gustav Jung

    "To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due." --Neil Gaiman; The Sandman Vol. 4: Season of Mists

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