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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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From the Inside Flap
This edition presents the original versions of many poems, which Auden revised to conform to his evolving political and literary attitudes later in his career. In this volume, Edward Mendelson has restored the early versions of some thirty poems generally considered to be superior to the later versions, allowing the reader to see the entire range of Auden's work. Selected and edited by Edward MendelsonSee all Product Description
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Poetry is, of course, a very personal taste, and one man's favourite poem is another's jumble of ill-chosen words. That being said, it is difficult, to my mind, to find poems written in this century which surpass 'Oxford', 'Musée des Beaux Arts', 'In Memory of W. B. Yeats', 'Et in Arcadia Ego'...the list is practically as long as the table of contents. No matter the subject (even to something as curious as 'In Praise of Limestone'), Auden has words for us, words which are as powerful, as moving now as they were the day they were put to paper.
In short, if you are at all tempted by poetry, this volume is certainly worth your time.
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.
My own personal experience with this book may be relevant. It has served to introduce me to one of the finest poets of the last century and sparked a desire to read THE COLLECTED POEMS, also edited by Mendelson, to see how Auden re-wrote thirty of the brilliant poems here included. I'm continuing on my voyage; hope you are starting on yours.