Selected Poems Paperback – Feb 13 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
One of the 20th century's greatest poets, Auden (1907–1973) has also joined the ranks of its most popular. His "Funeral Blues," a 16-line song about lost love, became a widespread favorite after its use in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral; his "Sept. 1, 1939" ("Those to whom evil is done/ Do evil in return") seemed to be everywhere after September 11, 2001, as readers used its somber public voice to make sense of a senseless day. Mendelson—Auden's literary executor, and the man who knows more than anyone else alive about Auden's life and writings—has already assembled the standard books Auden fans know, among them an earlier 100-poem Selected, which included poems famous during Auden's life, such as "Sept. 1" and "In Memory of W.B. Yeats," but excluded some of his finest light verse—the tongue-in-cheek self-descriptive haiku series called "Profiles," for example, the barbed wartime quatrains of "Leap Before You Look," and "Funeral Blues" itself. Mendelson now rectifies those faults, adds 17 more poems and amplifies his articulate preface, just in time for the centennial of Auden's birth. The volume reveals a poet by turns charming and authoritative, masterful and humble, deftly evasive and ringingly quotable. (Feb.)
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About the Author
W. H. Auden (1907-73) was born in York, England, and educated at Oxford. During the 1930s he was the leader of a left-wing literary group that included Christopher Isherwood and Stephen Spender. With Isherwood he wrote three verse plays. He lived in Germany during the early days of Nazism, and was a stretcher-bearer for the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War. Auden's first volume of poetry appeared in 1930. Later volumes include Spain (1937), New Year Letter (1941), For the Time Being, a Christmas Oratorio (1945), The Age of Anxiety (1947; Pulitzer Prize), Nones (1951), The Shield of Achilles (1955), Homage to Clio (1960), About the House (1965), Epistle of a Godson (1972), and Thank You, Fog (1974). His other works include the libretto, with his companion Chester Kallman, for Stravinsky's opera The Rake's Progress (1953); A Certain World: A Commonplace Book (1970); and The Dyer's Hand and Other Essays (1968). In 1939 Auden moved to the United States and became a citizen in 1946, and beginning that year taught at a number of American colleges and universities. From 1956 to 1961 he was professor of poetry at Oxford. Subsequently he lived in a number of countries, including Italy and Austria, and in 1971 he returned to England. He was awarded the National Medal for Literature in 1967.See all Product Description
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The poems that Mendelson, Auden's literary executor, selected for this volume are printed here in their first book-published versions. Mendelson also edited Auden's "Collected Poems," from which Auden himself excluded some poems and for which he revised others. Mendelson discusses the choice between "Selected Poems" and "Collected Poems" in the Introduction to this book:
"The present selection ... [reprints] the texts of Auden's early editions and [includes] poems that he later rejected. A historical edition of this kind, one that reflects the author's work as it first appeared in public rather than his final version of it, is not intended as an argument that Auden's revisions or rejections were arbitrary or misguided; he had strong literary and ethical motives for choosing them, and in almost every instance they produced versions of his poems that were more coherent and complex than the originals. Probably the best way to experience Auden's work is to read the early versions first for their greater immediate impact, and the revised versions afterward for their greater subtlety and depth. For most readers this book will be a First Auden, and the edition of his 'Collected Poems' that was published posthumously according to his final intentions may be recommended as a Second."
Auden's writing varied as to subject, style, and type as he aged. Love poems, politics, culture, morals, individuals; what a wealth of poetry the public has from Auden because of the number of years he lived and wrote. Twenty poems have been added to this expanded edition including some of Auden's lighter poems. This aids the reader, student, or lover of Auden to see a more complex, complete, fuller and well-rounded poet.
A nice touch within the volume was the inclusion of brief notes explaining references that might be unclear. Other positive features consisted of chronological arrangement of material, and an index of titles and first lines.
Armchair Interviews says: A must for all Auden students, whether a casual reader or lover of his poetry.
This book is simply wonderful reading. Auden is one of the greatest poets of the 20th century and one of the greatest in the English language. His wonderfully controlled use of and variety of language, moral vision, wit, and unobtrusive erudition are peerless among modern poets. For anyone wishing to read more Auden, I also recommend the Collected Works.