At a used bookstore on Heron Avenue in Cambridge today, I came across Stephen Spender's essay "Wystan Hugh Auden, 1907-1973":

"By extension the house becomes a world which Auden's poetry familiarizes. Through the filtering machinery of his idiosyncratic sensibility, words pour out of the fourteen-volume Oxford English Dictionary, and cover the landscape and the whole society, each word closing in onto its object and giving it an epithet and a name, within the virtuosity of form. With Auden transformation of this kind happened on such an immense scale that, now he is dead, we feel that one of the great machineries for converting encroaching barbarism into terms of our civilization, has left us.


What Auden loved was the Edenic world of unspoiled limestone landscape, private pleasures, music; whose communication was between one speaker and one listener or reader, receiving what was written or said separately, personally, uniquely. What he hated was the world of slogans, advertising, power politics, super-powers in which the propaganda and the crashing of power interests out-noises every other sound, makes hideous the landscape."


No comments: