W. H. Auden

Sir, no man's enemy, forgiving allBut will his negative inversion, be prodigal:Send to us power and light, a sovereign touchCuring the intolerable neural itch,The exhaustion of weaning, the liar's quinsy,And the distortions of ingrown virginity.Prohibit sharply the rehearsed responseAnd gradually correct the coward's stance;Cover in time with beams those in retreatThat, spotted, they turn though the reverse were great;Publish each healer that in city livesOr country houses at the end of drives;Harrow the house of the dead; look shining atNew styles of architecture, a change of heart.

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photo of WH Auden

W. H. Auden (1907-1973) was one of the wittiest and most worldly of English poetry’s great twentieth century masters. His work ranges from the political to the religious, from the urbane to the romantic. He is also, with his exhilarating lyrical power and understanding of love and longing in all their sacred and profane guises, an exemplary champion of human wisdom in its encounter with the mysteries of experience. More than any other poet, Auden used his poetry as an instrument to study the massive forces, dramas, and upheavals of the twentieth century, and his work displays an astonishing range of voice and breadth of concern.

Between 1927 and his death in 1973, W. H. Auden endowed poetry in the English language with a new face. Or rather, with several faces, since his work ranged from the political to the religious, from the urbane to the pastoral, from the mandarin to the invigoratingly plain-spoken.

This collection presents all the poems Auden wished to preserve, in the texts that received his final approval. It includes the full contents of his previous collected editions along with all the later volumes of his shorter poems. Together, these works display the astonishing range of Auden’s voice and the breadth of his concerns, his deep knowledge of the traditions he inherited, and his ability to recast those traditions in modern times.

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