W. H. Auden

W. H. Auden

Biography of W. H. Auden

Wystan Hugh Auden was born in York, England, on February 21, 1907. He moved to Birmingham during childhood and was educated at Christ Church, Oxford. As a young man he was influenced by the poetry of Thomas Hardy and Robert Frost, as well as William Blake, Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Old English verse. At Oxford his precocity as a poet was immediately apparent, and he formed lifelong friendships with two fellow writers, Stephen Spender and Christopher Isherwood.

In 1928, his collection Poems was privately printed, but it wasn’t until 1930, when another collection titled Poems (though its contents were different) was published, that Auden was established as the leading voice of a new generation.

Ever since, he has been admired for his unsurpassed technical virtuosity and an ability to write poems in nearly every imaginable verse form; the incorporation in his work of popular culture, current events, and vernacular speech; and also for the vast range of his intellect, which drew easily from an extraordinary variety of literatures, art forms, social and political theories, and scientific and technical information. He had a remarkable wit, and often mimicked the writing styles of other poets such as Dickinson, W. B. Yeats, and Henry James. His poetry frequently recounts, literally or metaphorically, a journey or quest, and his travels provided rich material for his verse.

He visited Germany, Iceland, and China, served in the Spanish Civil war, and in 1939 moved to the United States, where he met his lover, Chester Kallman, and became an American citizen. His own beliefs changed radically between his youthful career in England, when he was an ardent advocate of socialism and Freudian psychoanalysis, and his later phase in America, when his central preoccupation became Christianity and the theology of modern Protestant theologians. A prolific writer, Auden was also a noted playwright, librettist, editor, and essayist. Generally considered the greatest English poet of the twentieth century, his work has exerted a major influence on succeeding generations of poets on both sides of the Atlantic.

W. H. Auden served as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1954 to 1973, and divided most of the second half of his life between residences in New York City and Austria. He died in Vienna on September 29, 1973.

Poems by W. H. Auden

  1. A New Age
  2. A New Year Greeting
  3. A Walk After Dark
  4. Academic Graffiti
  5. After Reading a Child's Guide to Modern Physics
  6. Another Time
  7. Are You There?
  8. As I Walked Out One Evening
  9. As the poets have mournfully sung
  10. As We Like It
  11. At Last the Secret is Out
  12. At the Party
  13. Atlantis
  14. August 1968
  15. Autumn Song
  16. Base Words Are Uttered
  17. Bird-Language
  18. Calypso
  19. Canzone
  20. Carry Her Over the Water
  21. Cocaine Lil and Morphine Sue
  22. Consider This And In Our Time
  23. Death's Echo
  24. Deftly, Admiral, Cast Your Fly
  25. Doggerel by a Senior Citizen
  26. Epitaph on a Tyrant
  27. Eyes Look Into The Well
  28. First Things First
  29. Fish in the Unruffled Lakes
  30. Five Songs - II
  31. For Friends Only
  32. For What As Easy
  33. Friday's Child
  34. from In Time of War
  35. Funeral Blues
  36. Ganymede
  37. Give me a doctor
  38. Heavy Date
  39. Here War Is Simple
  40. Hunting Fathers
  41. I Have No Gun,But I Can Spit
  42. If I Could Tell You
  43. In Memory of Sigmund Freud
  44. In Memory of W. B. Yeats
  45. In Praise Of Limestone
  46. In the Time of War, XII
  47. It's No Use Raising A Shout
  48. Journey To Iceland
  49. Kairos and Logos
  50. Lady Weeping at the Crossroads
  51. Law, Like Love
  52. Let A Florid Music Praise
  53. Let History Be My Judge
  54. Like A Vocation
  55. Lullaby
  56. Miranda
  57. Miss Gee
  58. Moon Landing
  59. Musee Des Beaux Arts
  60. Never Stronger
  61. Night Mail
  62. Nocturne
  63. O Tell Me The Truth About Love
  64. O What Is That Sound
  65. O Where Are You Going?
  66. Ode to the Medieval Poets
  67. Old People's Home
  68. On the Circuit
  69. On this Island
  70. Partition
  71. Petition
  72. Refugee Blues
  73. River Profile
  74. Roman Wall Blues
  75. Seascape
  76. September 1, 1939
  77. Song
  78. Song Of The Master And Boatswain
  79. Talking to Myself
  80. Taller To-day
  81. Thanksgiving for a Habitat
  82. The Common Life
  83. The Dream
  84. The Fall of Rome
  85. The Geography of the House
  86. The Hidden Law
  87. The Labyrinth
  88. The More Loving One
  89. The Novelist
  90. The Quest
  91. The Riddle
  92. The Shield of Achilles
  93. The Two
  94. The Unknown Citizen
  95. The Wanderer
  96. The Waters
  97. They Wondered Why the Fruit had Been Forbidden
  98. This is the night mail
  99. This Lunar Beauty
  100. Three Short Poems
  101. Under Which Lyre
  102. Underneath an Abject Willow
  103. Victor
  104. Villanelle
  105. Voltaire at Ferney
  106. Warm are the Still and Lucky Miles
  107. We Too Had Known Golden Hours
  108. We're Late
  109. Who's Who