Out on the lawn I lie in bed,
Vega conspicuous overhead.
A Summer Night, 1936
In societies with fewer opportunities for amusement, it was also easier to tell a mere wish from a real desire. If, in order to hear some music, a man has to wait for six months and then walk twenty miles, it is easy to tell whether the words, "I should like to hear some music," mean what they appear to mean, or merely, "At this moment I should like to forget myself." When all he has to do is press a switch, it is more difficult. He may easily come to believe that wishes can come true.Wystan Hugh AudenInterlude: West's Disease", p. 245
Sad is Eros , builder of cities, And weeping anarchic Aphrodite .Wystan Hugh AudenIn Memory of Sigmund Freud (1939) Lines 111-112
Let us honour if we can The vertical man Though we value none But the horizontal one.Wystan Hugh AudenDedication to Christopher Isherwood, Poems (1930)
He suffers from one great literary defect, which is often found in lonely geniuses: he never knows when to stop. Lonely people are apt to fall in love with the sound of their own voice, as Narcissus fell in love with his reflection, not out of conceit but out of despair of finding another who will listen and respond.Wystan Hugh AudenOn Søren Kierkegaard, in "A Knight of Doleful Countenance", p. 192
Harrow the house of the dead; look shining at New styles of architecture, a change of heart.Wystan Hugh Auden1930 'Sir, No Man's Enemy'.
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.Wystan Hugh Auden1939 'Stop all the clocks', Collected Poems. Featured in the1994 film Four Weddings and a Funeral.
In the deserts of the heart; Let the healing fountain start, In the prison of his days Teach the free man how to praise.Wystan Hugh Auden1940 'In Memory of W.B.Yeats', pt.3.
Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.Wystan Hugh Auden1963 The Dyer's Hand,'Notes on the Comic'.
To ask the hard question is simple, The simple act of the confused will.Wystan Hugh AudenTo Ask the Hard Question is Simple, First published in book form in Poems (1930)
A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.Wystan Hugh AudenSquares and Oblongs, in Poets at Work (1948), p. 170
I sit in one of the dives On Fifty-second Street Uncertain and afraid As the clever hopes expire Of a low dishonest decade: Waves of anger and fear Circulate over the bright And darkened lands of the earth, Obsessing our private lives; The unmentionable odour of death Offends the September night.Wystan Hugh AudenLines 1-11 (September 1, 1939 (1939))
I and the public know What all schoolchildren learn, Those to whom evil is done Do evil in return.Wystan Hugh AudenLines 19-22 (September 1, 1939 (1939))
When I consider others I can easily believe that their bodies express their personalities and that the two are inseparable. But it is impossible for me not to feel that my body is other than I, that I inhabit it like a house, and that my face is a mask which, with or without my consent, conceals my real nature from others.Wystan Hugh Auden"Hic et Ille", p. 104
No opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible.Wystan Hugh Auden"Notes on Music and Opera", p.472
I said earlier that I do not believe an artist's life throws much light upon his works. I do believe, however, that, more often than most people realize, his works may throw light upon his life. An artist with certain imaginative ideas in his head may then involve himself in relationships which are congenial to them.Wystan Hugh Auden"The Greatest of the Monsters", p. 247
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