There are some good things and some fantastic ones in Auden’s early attitude; if the reader calls it a muddle I shall acquiesce, with the remark that the later position might be considered a more rarefied muddle. But poets rather specialize in muddles and I have no doubt which of the muddles was better for Auden’s poetry: one was fertile and usable, the other decidedly is not. Auden sometimes seems to be saying with Henry Clay, “I had rather be right than poetry”; but I am not sure, then, that he is either.
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