W. H. Auden

United States poet (born in England) (1907-1973)

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What the mass media offers is not popular art, but entertainment which is intended to be consumed like food, forgotten, and replaced by a new dish.
Acts of injustice done
Between the setting and the rising sun
In history lie like bones, each one.
A poet's hope to be, like some valley cheese, local, but prized elsewhere.
Accurate scholarship can
unearth the whole offence
from luther untill noe
that has driven a culture mad.
From what occured at linz
what huge imago made
a psychopathic god.
i and the public know
what all schoolchildren learn
those to whom evil is done
do evil in return.
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.
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.
Between friends differences in taste or opinion are irritating in direct proportion to their triviality.
Desire, even in its wildest tantrums, can neither persuade me it is love nor stop me from wishing it were.
Dogmatic theological statements are neither logical propositions nor poetic utterances. They are shaggy dog stories; they have a point, but he who tries too hard to get it will miss it.
False enchantment can last a lifetime.
I cannot accept the doctrine that in poetry there is a suspension of belief. A poet must never make a statement simply because it is sounds poetically exciting; he must also believe it to be true.
If music in general is an imitation of history, opera in particular is an imitation of human willfulness; it is rooted in the fact that we not only have feelings but insist upon having them at whatever cost to ourselves. The quality common to all the great operatic roles, e.g., Don Giovanni, Norma, Lucia, Tristan, Isolde, Br?nnhilde, is that each of them is a passionate and willful state of being. In real life they would all be bores, even Don Giovanni.
Literary confessors are contemptible, like beggars who exhibit their sores for money, but not so contemptible as the public that buys their books.
Murder is unique in that it abolishes the party it injures, so that society has to take the place of the victim and on his behalf demand atonement or grant forgiveness it is the one crime in which society has a direct interest.
Murder is unique in that it abolishes the party it injures, so that society has to take the place of the victim and on his behalf demand atonement or grant forgiveness; it is the one crime in which society has a direct interest.
No opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible.
One cannot review a bad book without showing off.
Poetry makes nothing happen. It survives in the valley of its saying.
Precisely because we do not communicate by singing, a song can be out of place but not out of character; it is just as credible that a stupid person should sing beautifully as that a clever person should do so.
Some books are undeservedly forgotten none are undeservedly remembered.
Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered.
The center that I cannot find is known to my unconscious mind.
There's only one good test of pornography. Get twelve normal men to read the book, and then ask them, Did you get an erection? If the answer is Yes from a majority of the twelve, then the book is pornographic.
To the man-in-the-street, who, I'm sorry to say, is a keen observer of life. The word Intellectual suggests straight away. A man who's untrue to his wife.
We are here on Earth to do good to others. What the others are here for, I don't know.
When I find myself in the company of scientists, I feel like a shabby curate who has strayed by mistake into a room full of dukes.

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