Auden, Wystan Hugh. (1907 - 1973).
L i f e
- sympathised with the Left in the 1930s
- became an American citizen (1946)
W o r k
1 9 3 0 s P e r i o d :
- the poet of his times: diagnoses the ills of his country under Depression
- employs deliberate irreverence, even clowning
Look Stranger! (GB, 1936) = On This Island (USA, 1937):
"Look Stranger!", later renamed "Seascape":
- a sharply focused poem contrasting the perspectives of ‘far off’ x ‘stable here’
“Musée des Beaux Arts” (1938):
- claims suffering and ‘its human position’ a key concern of art
- uses the example of Pieter Brueghel’s painting The Fall of Icarus
The Dog Beneath the Skin (1935), The Ascent of F6 (1936), and On the Frontier (1938):
- plays in collaboration with Christopher Isherwood
Letters from Iceland (1937):
- a record from his treck across Iceland with Louise MacNeice
- mingles prose, photographic illustrations, and poetry
1 9 4 0 s – 5 0 s P e r i o d :
- moves from a Marxist alignment to a Christian one: takes a more religious view of personal responsibility and traditional value, and prefers individual freedoms to the demands of community
- combines elements from popular art x an extreme technical formality, a colloquial tone x high artifice, etc.
- discovers for himself what T. S. Eliot calls an ‘objective correlative’
Another Time (1940):
“September 1, 1939”:
- declares independence from the ‘State’ in favour of an alternate dependence on human relationships
- the best example of the combination of the grave x the flippant
“In Praise of Limestone”:
- presents a landscape as a psychological state (the ‘objective correlative’)
- limestone = typifies his own unpredictability, elusiveness, and his fondness for change
1 9 6 0 s – 7 0 s P e r i o d :
- experiences deepening religious feelings
- becomes sceptical of all remedies for modern ills and seeks refugee in love and friendship
About the House (1967)
City Without Walls (1970)
(Photo: Carl Van Vechten. 1939. Source: Wikipedia).
AuthorWystan Hugh Auden. (1907 - 1973). British. American citizen since 1946.
WorkPoet. Dramatist. Critic. Author of "Musée des Beaux Arts".
GenresLeft-wing poetry in 1930s. Later personal and religious poetry.
Abrams, Meyer Howard, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.
Barnard, Robert. Stručné dějiny anglické literatury. Praha: Brána, 1997.
Baugh, Albert C. ed. A Literary History of England. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967.
Coote, Stephen. The Penguin Short History of English Literature. London: Penguin, 1993.
Sampson, George. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1946.
Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.
"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."
From "Funeral Blues" (1936).