W.H. Auden--British


W.H. Auden

Auden was born in York, England in 1907. While attending Oxford he developed a close friendship with two writers, Stephen Spender and Christopher Isherwood. In 1928, a privately published collection of his poetry was printed, but it wasn’t until 1930 that another collection, titled under the same name, Poems, was issued. It was this book that brought attention to his work. Auden served in the Spanish Civil War, moved to the United States in 1939, and became an American citizen. In addition to being a poet, he was a playwright, librettist, editor and essayist. Many critics consider Auden to be the greatest poet of the twentieth century. He served as the chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1954 to 1973. 

In Time of War

And the age ended, and the last deliverer died.

In bed, grown idle and unhappy; they were safe:

the sudden shadow of the giant's enormous calf

would fall no more at dusk across the lawn outside.


They slept in peace: in marshes here and there no doubt

a sterile dragon lingered to a natural death,

but in a year the spoor had vanished from the heath;

the kobold's knocking in the mountain petered out.


Only the sculptors and the poets were half sad,

and the pert retinue from the magician's house

grumbled and went elsewhere. The vanished powers were glad. 

To be invisible and free: without remorse

struck down the sons who strayed their course,

and ravished the daughters, and drove the fathers mad.

Funeral Blues


Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
silence the pianos and with muffled drum
bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let airplanes circle moaning overhead
scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
my working week and my Sunday rest,
my noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
for nothing now can ever come to any good.