W. H. Auden

Born: February 21, 1907

Die: September 29, 1973

Occupation: Poet

Quotes of W. H. Auden

W. H. Auden

The glacier knocks in the cupboard, The desert sighs in the bed, And the crack in the teacup opens A lane to the land of the dead.

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W. H. Auden

I smell blood and an era of prominent madmen.

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W. H. Auden

Moreover, if great men are the only hope of the Evolutionary Process, they are morally bound to rule over the masses for their own good -- we are all here on earth to help others: what on earth the others...

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W. H. Auden

In the eyes of others a man is a poet if he has written one good poem. In his own he is only a poet at the moment when he is making his last revision to a new poem. The moment before, he was still only...

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W. H. Auden

Like love we don't know where or why Like love we cant compel or fly Like Love we often weep Like Love we seldom keep

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W. H. Auden

Now the leaves are falling fast, Nurse’s flowers will not last, Nurses to their graves are gone, But the prams go rolling on.

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W. H. Auden

A poet's hope: to be, like some valley cheese, local, but prized elsewhere.

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W. H. Auden

Most people enjoy the sight of their own handwriting as they enjoy the smell of their own farts.

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W. H. Auden

Those who will not reason, perish in the act. Those who will not act, perish for that reason.

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W. H. Auden

Detective stories have nothing to do with works of art.

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W. H. Auden

All that we are not stares back at what we are.

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W. H. Auden

There is a great deal of difference in believing something still, and believing it again.

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W. H. Auden

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.

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W. H. Auden

The closest modern equivalent to the Homeric hero is the ace fighter pilot.

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W. H. Auden

I'll love you, dear, I'll love you till China and Africa meet and the river jumps over the mountain and the salmon sing in the street.

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W. H. Auden

We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don't know.

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W. H. Auden

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.

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W. H. Auden

Choice of attention - to pay attention to this and ignore that - is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer. In both cases, a man is responsible for his choice and must accept the consequences,...

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W. H. Auden

A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.

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W. H. Auden

A professor is someone who talks in someone else's sleep.

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W. H. Auden

Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.

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W. H. Auden

Almost all of our relationships begin and most of them continue as forms of mutual exploitation, a mental or physical barter, to be terminated when one or both parties run out of goods.

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W. H. Auden

Evil is unspectacular and always human, and shares our bed and eats at our own table.

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W. H. Auden

If equal affection cannot be, let the more loving be me.

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W. H. Auden

All sins tend to be addictive, and the terminal point of addiction is damnation.

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W. H. Auden

No good opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible.

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W. H. Auden

The ear tends to be lazy, craves the familiar and is shocked by the unexpected; the eye, on the other hand, tends to be impatient, craves the novel and is bored by repetition.

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W. H. Auden

'Healing,' Papa would tell me, 'is not a science, but the intuitive art of wooing nature.'

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W. H. Auden

In times of joy, all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag.

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W. H. Auden

History is, strictly speaking, the study of questions; the study of answers belongs to anthropology and sociology.

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W. H. Auden

A real book is not one that we read, but one that reads us.

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W. H. Auden

Between friends differences in taste or opinion are irritating in direct proportion to their triviality.

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W. H. Auden

Music is the best means we have of digesting time.

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W. H. Auden

Death is the sound of distant thunder at a picnic.

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W. H. Auden

If time were the wicked sheriff in a horse opera, I'd pay for riding lessons and take his gun away.

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W. H. Auden

We all have these places where shy humiliations gambol on sunny afternoons.

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W. H. Auden

Art is born of humiliation.

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W. H. Auden

It is a sad fact about our culture that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can by practicing it.

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W. H. Auden

It takes little talent to see what lies under one's nose, a good deal to know in what direction to point that organ.

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W. H. Auden

To save your world you asked this man to die; would this man, could he see you now, ask why?

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W. H. Auden

You owe it to all of us all get on with what you're good at.

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W. H. Auden

God bless the USA, so large, so friendly, and so rich.

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W. H. Auden

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.

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W. H. Auden

My face looks like a wedding-cake left out in the rain.

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W. H. Auden

One cannot walk through an assembly factory and not feel that one is in Hell.

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W. H. Auden

Perhaps there is only one cardinal sin: impatience. Because of impatience we were driven out of Paradise, because of impatience we cannot return.

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W. H. Auden

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...

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W. H. Auden

A verbal art like poetry is reflective; it stops to think. Music is immediate, it goes on to become.

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W. H. Auden

Learn from your dreams what you lack.

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W. H. Auden

No human being is innocent, but there is a class of innocent human actions called Games.

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W. H. Auden

Now is the age of anxiety.

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W. H. Auden

Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered.

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W. H. Auden

When I am in the company of scientists, I feel like a shabby curate who has strayed by mistake into a drawing room full of dukes.

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W. H. Auden

Geniuses are the luckiest of mortals because what they must do is the same as what they most want to do.

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W. H. Auden

Good can imagine Evil; but Evil cannot imagine Good.

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W. H. Auden

Health is the state about which medicine has nothing to say.

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W. H. Auden

Music can be made anywhere, is invisible and does not smell.

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W. H. Auden

No hero is mortal till he dies.

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W. H. Auden

Some writers confuse authenticity, which they ought always to aim at, with originality, which they should never bother about.

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W. H. Auden

The words of a dead man are modified in the guts of the living.

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W. H. Auden

Like everything which is not the involuntary result of fleeting emotion but the creation of time and will, any marriage, happy or unhappy, is infinitely more interesting than any romance, however passionate.

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W. H. Auden

A poet can write about a man slaying a dragon, but not about a man pushing a button that releases a bomb.

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W. H. Auden

A poet is a professional maker of verbal objects.

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W. H. Auden

Art is our chief means of breaking bread with the dead.

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W. H. Auden

Every autobiography is concerned with two characters, a Don Quixote, the Ego, and a Sancho Panza, the Self.

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W. H. Auden

Fame often makes a writer vain, but seldom makes him proud.

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W. H. Auden

Murder is commoner among cooks than among members of any other profession.

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W. H. Auden

Of all possible subjects, travel is the most difficult for an artist, as it is the easiest for a journalist.

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W. H. Auden

Sob, heavy world Sob as you spin, Mantled in mist Remote from the happy.

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W. H. Auden

The center that I cannot find is known to my unconscious mind.

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W. H. Auden

The countenances of children, like those of animals, are masks, not faces, for they have not yet developed a significant profile of their own.

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W. H. Auden

You know there are no secrets in America. It's quite different in England, where people think of a secret as a shared relation between two people.

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W. H. Auden

In relation to a writer, most readers believe in the Double Standard: they may be unfaithful to him as often as they like, but he must never, never be unfaithful to them.

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W. H. Auden

In a world of prayer, we are all equal in the sense that each of us is a unique person, with a unique perspective on the world, a member of a class of one.

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W. H. Auden

No poet or novelist wishes he were the only one who ever lived, but most of them wish they were the only one alive, and quite a number fondly believe their wish has been granted.

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W. H. Auden

A tremendous number of people in America work very hard at something that bores them. Even a rich man thinks he has to go down to the office everyday. Not because he likes it but because he can't think...

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W. H. Auden

It's frightening how easy it is to commit murder in America. Just a drink too much. I can see myself doing it. In England, one feels all the social restraints holding one back. But here, anything can happen.

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W. H. Auden

May it not be that, just as we have to have faith in Him, God has to have faith in us and, considering the history of the human race so far, may it not be that 'faith' is even more difficult for Him than...

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W. H. Auden

All works of art are commissioned in the sense that no artist can create one by a simple act of will but must wait until what he believes to be a good idea for a work comes to him.

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W. H. Auden

Before people complain of the obscurity of modern poetry, they should first examine their consciences and ask themselves with how many people and on how many occasions they have genuinely and profoundly...

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W. H. Auden

Every American poet feels that the whole responsibility for contemporary poetry has fallen upon his shoulders, that he is a literary aristocracy of one.

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W. H. Auden

Hemingway is terribly limited. His technique is good for short stories, for people who meet once in a bar very late at night, but do not enter into relations. But not for the novel.

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W. H. Auden

The class distinctions proper to a democratic society are not those of rank or money, still less, as is apt to happen when these are abandoned, of race, but of age.

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W. H. Auden

Fate succumbs many a species: one alone jeopardises itself.

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W. H. Auden

Desire, even in its wildest tantrums, can neither persuade me it is love nor stop me from wishing it were.

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W. H. Auden

To pray is to pay attention to something or someone other than oneself. Whenever a man so concentrates his attention - on a landscape, a poem, a geometrical problem, an idol, or the True God - that he...

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W. H. Auden

We are not commanded (or forbidden) to love our mates, our children, our friends, our country because such affections come naturally to us and are good in themselves, although we may corrupt them. We are...

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W. H. Auden

A false enchantment can all too easily last a lifetime.

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W. H. Auden

The sky is darkening like a stain Something is going to fall like rain And it won't be flowers

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W. H. Auden

You must go to bed with friends or whores, where money makes up the difference in beauty or desire.

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W. H. Auden

Earth, receive an honored guest; William Yeats is laid to rest. Let the Irish vessel lie Emptied of its poetry.

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W. H. Auden

The stars are not wanted now, put out every one Pack up the moon & dismantle the sun.

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W. H. Auden

The friends who met here and embraced are gone, Each to his own mistake;

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W. H. Auden

Christmas and Easter can be subjects for poetry, but Good Friday, like Auschwitz, cannot. The reality is so horrible it is not surprising that people should have found it a stumbling block to faith.

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W. H. Auden

The critical opinions of a writer should always be taken with a large grain of salt. For the most part, they are manifestations of his debate with himself as to what he should do next and what he should...

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W. H. Auden

O let not Time deceive you, You cannot conquer Time.

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W. H. Auden

No person can be a great leader unless he takes genuine joy in the successes of those under him.

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W. H. Auden

Say this city has ten million souls, Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes: Yet there’s no place for us, my dear, yet there’s no place for us.

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W. H. Auden

Dance till the stars come down from the rafters Dance, Dance, Dance 'till you drop.

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W. H. Auden

The trees encountered on a country stroll Reveal a lot about that country's soul ... A culture is no better than its woods.

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W. H. Auden

Drama is based on the Mistake. I think someone is my friend when he really is my enemy, that I am free to marry a woman when in fact she is my mother, that this person is a chambermaid when it is a young...

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W. H. Auden

Over the tea-cups and in the square the tongue has its desire; Still waters run deep, my dear, there's never smoke without fire.

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W. H. Auden

Political history is far too criminal to be a fit subject of study for the young. Children should acquire their heroes and villians from fiction.

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W. H. Auden

Man is a history-making creature, who can neither repeat his past, nor leave it behind.

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W. H. Auden

There must always be two kinds of art: escape-art, for man needs escape as he needs food and deep sleep, and parable-art, that art which shall teach man to unlearn hatred and learn love.

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W. H. Auden

A daydream is a meal at which images are eaten. Some of us are gourmets, some gourmands, and a good many take their images precooked out of a can and swallow them down whole, absent-mindedly and with little...

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W. H. Auden

Poetry makes nothing happen.

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W. H. Auden

Each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his freedom.

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W. H. Auden

A dead man who never caused others to die seldom rates a statue.

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W. H. Auden

a culture is no better than its woods

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W. H. Auden

Criticism should be a casual conversation.

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W. H. Auden

Men will pay large sums to whores for telling them they are not bores.

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W. H. Auden

Nobody knows what the cause is, though some pretend they do; it like some hidden assassin waiting to strike at you. Childless women get it, and men when they retire; it as if there had to be some outlet...

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W. H. Auden

Recipe for the upbringing of a poet: 'As much neurosis as the child can bear.

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W. H. Auden

Beloved, we are always in the wrong, Handling so clumsily our stupid lives, Suffering too little or too long, Too careful even in our selfish loves: The decorative manias we obey Die in grimaces round...

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W. H. Auden

The true men of action in our time those who transform the world are not the politicians and statesmen but the scientists. Unfortunately poetry cannot celebrate them because their deeds are concerned with...

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W. H. Auden

But if a stranger in the train asks me my occupation, I never answer "writer" for fear that he may go on to ask me what I write, and to answer "poetry" would embarrass us both, for we both know that nobody...

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W. H. Auden

A poet must never make a statement simply because it is sounds poetically exciting; he must also believe it to be true.

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W. H. Auden

Goodness is easier to recognize than to define.

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W. H. Auden

Civilizations should be measured by the degree of diversity attained and the degree of unity retained.

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W. H. Auden

Attacking bad books is not only a waste of time but also bad for the character. If I find a book really bad, the only interest I can derive from writing about it has to come from myself, from such display...

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W. H. Auden

Oh, how I wish that Orwell were still alive, so that I could read his comments on contemporary events!

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W. H. Auden

Money cannot buy the fuel of love but is excellent kindling.

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W. H. Auden

Every high C accurately struck demolishes the theory that we are the irresponsible puppets of fate or chance.

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W. H. Auden

Lay your sleeping head, my love, Human on my faithless arm;

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W. H. Auden

Warm are the still and lucky miles, White shores of longing stretch away, A light of recognition fills The whole great day, and bright The tiny world of lovers' arms. Silence invades the breathing wood...

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W. H. Auden

In order that people may be happy in their work, these three things are needed: They must be fit for it: they must not do too much of it: and they must have a sense of success in it - not a doubtful sense,...

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W. H. Auden

You shall love your crooked neighbour, with your crooked heart.

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W. H. Auden

Anyone who has a child today should train him to be either a physicist or a ballet dancer. Then he'll escape.

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W. H. Auden

The theater has never been any good since the actors became gentlemen.

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W. H. Auden

We would rather be ruined than changed. We would rather die in our dread than climb the cross of the moment and let our illusions die.

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W. H. Auden

Sincerity is technique.

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W. H. Auden

Look if you like, but you will have to leap.

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W. H. Auden

My deepest feeling about politicians is that they are dangerous lunatics to be avoided when possible and carefully humored; people, above all, to whom one must never tell the truth.

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W. H. Auden

Get up very early and get going at once. In fact, work first and wash afterwards.

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W. H. Auden

Narcissus does not fall in love with his reflection because it is beautiful, but because it is his. If it were his beauty that enthralled him, he would be set free in a few years by its fading.

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W. H. Auden

People always get what they want. But there is a price for everything. Failures are either those who do not know what they want or are not prepared to pay the price asked them. The price varies from individual...

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W. H. Auden

No being can make another one happy.

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W. H. Auden

Beauty, midnight, vision dies: Let the winds of dawn that blow Softly round your dreaming head Such a day of welcome show Eye and knocking heart may bless, Find our mortal world enough; Noons of dryness...

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W. H. Auden

The nightingales are sobbing in The orchards of our mothers, And hearts that we broke long ago Have long been breaking others; Tears are round, the sea is deep: Roll them overboard and sleep.

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W. H. Auden

Our sufferings and weaknesses, in so far as they are personal, are of no literary interest whatsoever. They are only interesting in so far as we can see them as typical of the human condition.

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W. H. Auden

Shall memory restore The steps and the shore, The face and the meeting place;

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W. H. Auden

Literary confessors are contemptible, like beggars who exhibit their sores for money, but not so contemptible as the public that buys their books.

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W. H. Auden

One of the troubles of our times is that we are all, I think, precocious as personalities and backward as characters.

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W. H. Auden

Language is the mother, not the handmaiden, of thought; words will tell you things you never thought or felt before.

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W. H. Auden

Water is the soul of the Earth.

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W. H. Auden

We must love one another or die

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W. H. Auden

Let all your thinks be thanks.

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W. H. Auden

Words are for those with promises to keep.

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W. H. Auden

As I walked out one evening, Walking down Bristol Street, The crowds upon the pavement Were fields of harvest wheat. And down by the brimming river I heard a lover sing Under an arch of the railway: 'Love...

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W. H. Auden

To make one, there must be two.

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W. H. Auden

Far from his illness The wolves ran on through the evergreen forests, The peasant river was untempted by the fashionable quays; By mourning tongues The death of the poet was kept from his poems.

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W. H. Auden

Words have no word for words that are not true.

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W. H. Auden

I'll love you till the ocean Is folded and hung up to dry And the seven stars go squawking Like geese about the sky.

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W. H. Auden

Let me see what I wrote so I know what I think

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W. H. Auden

The slogan of Hell: Eat or be eaten. The slogan of Heaven: Eat and be eaten.

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W. H. Auden

A small grove massacred to the last ash, An oak with heart-rot, give away the show: This great society is going to smash; They cannot fool us with how fast they go, How much they cost each other...

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W. H. Auden

You need not see what someone is doing to know if it is his vocation, you have only to watch his eyes: a cook mixing a sauce, a surgeon making a primary incision, a clerk completing a bill of lading wear...

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W. H. Auden

I just try to put the thing out and hope somebody will read it. Someone says: 'Whom do you write for?' I reply: 'Do you read me?' If they say 'Yes,' I say, 'Do you like it?' If they say 'No,' then I say,...

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W. H. Auden

I know nothing, except what everyone knows - if there when Grace dances, I should dance.

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W. H. Auden

Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.

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W. H. Auden

We were put on this earth to make things.

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W. H. Auden

But once in a while the odd thing happens Once in a while the dream comes true And the whole pattern of life is altered Once in a while, the moon turns blue

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W. H. Auden

A craftsman knows in advance what the finished result will be, while the artist knows only what it will be when he has finished it.

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W. H. Auden

We are all here on earth to help others.

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W. H. Auden

Great art is clear thinking about mixed feelings.

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W. H. Auden

Base words are uttered only by the base And can for such at once be understood; But noble platitudes — ah, there's a case Where the most careful scrutiny is needed To tell a voice that's genuinely good...

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W. H. Auden

The basic stimulus to the intelligence is doubt, a feeling that the meaning of an experience is not self-evident.

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W. H. Auden

Without art, we should have no notion of the sacred; without science, we should always worship false gods.

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W. H. Auden

Time will say nothing but I told you so, Time only knows the price we have to pay; If I could tell you I would let you know.

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W. H. Auden

There are not many English novels which deserve to be called great: Parade's End is one of them.

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W. H. Auden

There are good books which are only for adults. There are no good books which are only for children.

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W. H. Auden

How happy the lot of the mathematician. He is judged solely by his peers, and the standard is so high that no colleague or rival can ever win a reputation he does not deserve.

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W. H. Auden

A person incapable of imaging another world than given to him by his senses would be subhuman, and a person who identifies his imaginary world with the world of sensory fact has become insane.

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W. H. Auden

God is Love, we are taught as children to believe. But when we first begin to get some inkling of how He loves us, we are repelled; it seems so cold, indeed, not love at all as we understand the word.

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W. H. Auden

A doctor, like anyone else who has to deal with human beings, each of them unique, cannot be a scientist; he is either, like the surgeon, a craftsman, or, like the physician and the psychologist, an artist....

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W. H. Auden

There's always another story. There's more than meets the eye.

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W. H. Auden

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.

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W. H. Auden

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...

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W. H. Auden

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...

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W. H. Auden

That the speech of self-disclosure should be translatable seems to me very odd, but I am convinced that it is. The conclusion that I draw is that the only quality which all human being without exception...

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W. H. Auden

In the deserts of the heart Let the healing fountain start.

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W. H. Auden

Slavery is so intolerable a condition that the slave can hardly escape deluding himself into thinking that he is choosing to obey his master's commands when, in fact, he is obliged to. Most slaves of habit...

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W. H. Auden

The only way to spend New Year's Eve is either quietly with friends or in a brothel. Otherwise when the evening ends and people pair off, someone is bound to be left in tears.

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W. H. Auden

Few can remember clearly when innocence came to a sudden end, the moment at which we ask for the first time: Am I loved?

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W. H. Auden

The belief that politics can be scientific must inevitably produce tyrannies. Politics cannot be a science, because in politics theory and practice cannot be separated, and the sciences depend upon their...

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W. H. Auden

Thank God for books as an alternative to conversation.

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W. H. Auden

We are lived by powers we pretend to understand.

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W. H. Auden

It is already possible to imagine a society in which the majority of the population, that is to say, its laborers, will have almost as much leisure as in earlier times was enjoyed by the aristocracy. When...

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W. H. Auden

Defenceless under the night Our world in stupor lies; Yet, dotted everywhere, Ironic points of light Flash out wherever the Just Exchange their messages: May I, composed like them Of Eros...

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W. H. Auden

The desires of the heart are as crooked as corkscrews Not to be born is the best for man The second best is a formal order The dance's pattern, dance while you can. Dance, dance, for the figure is easy...

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W. H. Auden

To choose what is difficult all one's days, as if it were easy, that is faith

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W. H. Auden

Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.

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W. H. Auden

All I have is a voice to undo the folded lie, the romantic lie in the brain of the sensual man-in-the-street and the lie of Authority whose buildings grope the sky: There is no such thing as the State...

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W. H. Auden

If we really want to live, we'd better start at once to try.

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W. H. Auden

We do not change as we grow up. The difference between the child and the adult is that the former doesn't know who he is and the latter does.

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W. H. Auden

The lights must never go out, The music must always play

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W. H. Auden

The definition of prayer is paying careful and concentrated attention to something other than your own constructions.

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W. H. Auden

The relation of faith between subject and object is unique in every case. Hundreds may believe, but each has to believe by himself.

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W. H. Auden

It is axiomatic that we should all think of ourselves as being more sensitive than other people because, when we are insensitive in our dealings with others, we cannot be aware of it at the time; conscious...

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W. H. Auden

As a poet, there is only one political duty, and that is to defend one's language from corruption.

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W. H. Auden

Poetry might be defined as the clear expression of mixed feelings.

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W. H. Auden

Behind the corpse in the reservoir, behind the ghost on the links, Behind the lady who dances and the man who madly drinks, Under the look of fatigue, the attack of migraine and the sigh There is always...

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W. H. Auden

Clear, unscaleable ahead, Rise the mountains of instead From whose cold, cascading streams None may drink except in dreams

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W. H. Auden

To ask the hard question is simple.

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W. H. Auden

Soft as the earth is mankind and both need to be altered.

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W. H. Auden

Be subtle, various, ornamental, clever, And do not listen to those critics ever Whose crude provincial gullets crave in books Plain cooking made still plainer by plain cooks.

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W. H. Auden

The Ogre does what ogres can, Deeds quite impossible for Man, But one prize is beyond his reach: The Ogre cannot master speech. About a subjugated plain, Among it's desperate and slain, The Ogre stalks...

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W. H. Auden

Cats can be very funny, and have the oddest ways of showing they're glad to see you...

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W. H. Auden

The commonest ivory tower is that of the average man, the state of passivity towards experience.

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W. H. Auden

A writer, or at least a poet, is always being asked by people who should know better: “Whom do you write for?” The question is, of course, a silly one, but I can give it a silly answer. Occasionally...

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W. H. Auden

In the end, art is small beer. The really serious things are earning one's living so as not to be a parasite and loving one's neighbor.

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W. H. Auden

Whatever you do, good or bad, people will always have something negative to say

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W. H. Auden

Who on earth invented the silly convention that it is boring or impolite to talk shop? Nothing is more interesting to listen to, especially if the shop is not one's own.

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W. H. Auden

The parlour cars and Pullmans are packed also with scented assassins, salad-eaters who murder on milk.

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W. H. Auden

All the rest is silence On the other side of the wall, And the silence ripeness, And the ripeness all.

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W. H. Auden

The image of myself which I try to create in my own mind in order that I may love myself is very different from the image which I try to create in the minds of others in order that they may love me.

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W. H. Auden

Few people take an interest in Iceland, but in those few the interest is passionate.

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W. H. Auden

The windiest militant trash Important Persons shout Is not so crude as our wish: What mad Nijinsky wrote About Diaghilev Is true of the normal heart; For the error bred in the bone Of each woman and each...

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W. H. Auden

I and the public know What all schoolchildren learn, Those to whom evil is done Do evil in return.

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W. H. Auden

Every man carries with him through life a mirror, as unique and impossible to get rid of as his shadow.

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W. H. Auden

In Brueghel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away Quite leisurely from the disaster, the ploughman may Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry, But for him it was not an important failure;...

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W. H. Auden

All I have is a voice.

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W. H. Auden

Love each other or perish

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W. H. Auden

But he would have us most of all remember to be enthusiastic over the night. Not only for the sense of wonder it alone has to offer but also because it needs our love. For with sad eyes its delectable...

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W. H. Auden

I am sure it is everyone’s experience, as it has been mine, that any discovery we make about ourselves or the meaning of life is never, like a scientific discovery, a coming upon something entirely new...

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W. H. Auden

Lovers have lived so long with giants and elves, they won't believe again in their own size.

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W. H. Auden

To pray is to pay attention to something or someone other than oneself...

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W. H. Auden

The only reason the Protestants and Catholics have given up the idea of universal domination is because they've realised they can't get away with it.

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W. H. Auden

I will love you forever" swears the poet. I find this easy to swear too. "I will love you at 4:15 pm next Tuesday" - Is that still as easy?

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W. H. Auden

There are three cardinal rules - don't take somebody else's boyfriend unless you've been specifically invited to do so, don't take a drink without being asked, and keep a scrupulous accounting in financial...

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W. H. Auden

The way to read a fairy tale is to throw yourself in.

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W. H. Auden

One cannot review a bad book without showing off.

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W. H. Auden

Adjectives are the potbelly of poetry.

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W. H. Auden

The Three Wiseman: The weather has been awful, The countryside is dreary, Marsh, jungle, rock; and echoes mock, Calling our hope unlawful; But a silly song can help along Yours ever and sincerely: At least...

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W. H. Auden

The actors today really need the whip hand. They're so lazy. They haven't got the sense of pride in their profession that the less socially elevated musical comedy and music hall people or acrobats have....

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W. H. Auden

I don't get acting jobs because of my looks.

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W. H. Auden

Follow, poet, follow right To the bottom of the night, With your unconstraining voice Still persuade us to rejoice; With the farming of a verse Make a vineyard of the curse, Sing of human unsuccess In...

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W. H. Auden

Laziness acknowledges the relation of the present to the past but ignores its relation to the future; impatience acknowledge its relation to the future but ignores its relation to the past; neither the...

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W. H. Auden

Of course, Behaviourism 'works'. So does torture. Give me a no-nonsense, down-to-earth behaviourist, a few drugs, and simple electrical appliances, and in six months I will have him reciting the Athanasian...

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W. H. Auden

I used to try and concentrate the poem so much that there wasn't a word that wasn't essential. This leads to becoming boring and constipated.

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W. H. Auden

How should we like it were stars to burn With a passion for us we could not return? If equal affection cannot be, Let the more loving one be me.

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W. H. Auden

There is no such thing as the State And no one exists alone; Hunger allows no choice To the citizen or the police; We must love one another or die.

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W. H. Auden

As a rule, it was the pleasure-haters who became unjust.

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W. H. Auden

The most exciting rhythms seem unexpected and complex, the most beautiful melodies simple and inevitable.

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W. H. Auden

Drama is based on the Mistake.

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W. H. Auden

Thou shalt not answer questionnaires Or quizzes upon world affairs, Nor with compliance Take any test. Thou shalt not sit with statisticians nor commit A social science.

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W. H. Auden

Our researchers into Public Opinion are content That he held the proper opinions for the time of year; When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he went. He was married and added five...

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W. H. Auden

Happy the hare at morning, for she cannot read The hunter's waking thoughts.

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W. H. Auden

How happy is the lot of the mathematician! He is judged solely by his peers, and the standard is so high that no colleague or rival can ever win a reputation he does not deserve. No cashier writes a letter...

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W. H. Auden

And none will hear the postman’s knock Without a quickening of the heart. For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?

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W. H. Auden

Those to whom evil is doneDo evil in return.

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W. H. Auden

As readers, we remain in the nursery stage so long as we cannot distinguish between taste and judgment, so long, that is, as the only possible verdicts we can pass on a book are two: this I like; this...

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“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”

― Dr. Seuss