"You can never step in the same Auden twice," wrote the critic Randall Jarrell, alluding both to the etymology of Auden's name--which comes from river--and the rapid transformations of his poetic style. Wystan Hugh Auden began as a cryptic voice of the Thirties, with alluring yet mysterious creations like "The Secret Agent." Next he made himself into the very model of an engagé artist with "Refugee Blues" or "Spain"--explicitly political utterances that the poet later renounced. Finally, Auden shocked his public by moving from England to the United States, where he fulfilled his ambition to become a "minor Atlantic Goethe" (although many would insist on calling him a major one). Early or late, however, the music of Auden's verse is instantly recognizable, and fantastically memorable. Readers need only hear "In Praise of Limestone" or "The Fall of Rome" or "O Tell Me the Truth About Love" a single time to have selected lines imprinted on their brains. Nor did Auden ever lose his touch as one of the sublime love poets of our age, which was evident from the moment he published his celebrated "Lullaby": "Lay your sleeping head, my love, / Human on my faithless arm; / Time and fevers burn away / Individual beauty from / Thoughtful children, and the grave / Proves the child ephemeral: / But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie / Mortal, guilty, but to me / The entirely beautiful." So what if his face got all wrinkled?
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Used availability for W H Auden's Poems: Auden
May 1995 : USA Hardback