Happy Birthday, WH Auden

The poet was born 100 years ago today.

An article from The Independent:

As he wrote of Edward Lear, Auden himself “became a land”, his personal geography packed with must-visit sites. Poster-boy for the 1930s poetic revolution, standard-bearer of the anti-Fascist cultural left, keen-eyed reporter on Midlands foundries or Icelandic glaciers or Chinese wars, martini-sipping New York sophisticate, Christian mystic and seeker, semi-reluctant gay icon and camp gossip, mandarin expatriate in Austria and Italy, apostle of friendship and domesticity: Auden wore many social masks, all authentic, over his 66 productive years. But his mindscape was, over the decades, fissured by tension between the temptations of the public realm and the fulfilments of the private life.

“Poetry makes nothing happen: it survives/ In the valley of its making,” he so quotably asserted in his 1939 elegy for WB Yeats. In truth, Auden had to argue himself out of a youthful conviction that art could indeed act as “a midwife to society”. Most reputable critics concur that he had done so, in New York, by the early 1940s and with works such as New Year Letter – and never looked back. I’m not so sure. Even at his most quietist, the mature Auden sounds a suspiciously declamatory kind of private man.

Here’s an article from the Guardian.

Here’s the Auden Society site with lists of events around the world.

Here Auden read “On the Circuit.”

Download the Paris Review interview (PDF).


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