Auden, W. H.
W. H. Auden was one of the literary giants of the twentieth century. His poems, plays, and essays, written in everyday language, are full of his favorite themes: religion, politics, and psychology. "September 1, 1939," written in response to Hitler’s invasion of Poland, became eerily relevant to many after the bombing of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The poem’s Manhattan setting, images of death and destruction, and sense of the cyclical nature of evil ("Those to whom evil is done/Do evil in return") all seemed directly applicable to this new tragedy. Auden’s poem invites us to ponder what we desire and whether, in the face of tragedy, our "clever hopes expire" or whether it is still possible to "Show an affirming flame."
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W.H. Auden: Selected Poems, W. H. Auden (Vintage International, 1990)
Reading - Short Enough to Read Aloud.
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