October 23, 2008, 7:00 PM
Our Life in Poetry: Auden in New York
Participants: Michael Braziller & David Lehman
This course, led by Michael Braziller, publisher of Persea Books, and featuring guest poet David Lehman, will address poems that W. H. Auden wrote in the decade after his arrival in New York City in 1939. Wystan Hugh Auden, one of the major poets of the twentieth century, spent the war years in New York, became a US citizen in 1946, and exercised an enormous influence on the direction of American poetry. The poems he wrote at this time are among the most significant, and without doubt most controversial, in the Auden canon. "September 1, 1939" and "In Memory of William Butler Yeats" command our special interest not only for their literary excellence but because of their publishing history. Auden grew unhappy with both poems for reasons that are worth investigating, and he revised them radically. Did he improve or harm them? We will talk about his revisions, the ethical as well as literary implications of Auden's decisions, and about specific lines in the poems that have generated the greatest amount of critical discussion. Time permitting, the course will address other exemplary Auden poems, such as "Under Which Lyre," "In Praise of Limestone," "The More Loving One," and the villanelle beginning "Time will say nothing but I told you so." Attendees may want to prepare by also reading "Caliban to the Audience," a long eloquent prose poem Auden wrote during this period.
No prior registration or fee is required. To view the poems, please click on the link below. Please bring a printed copy to the class. Copies of the poems will not be provided at the event.
Auden Poems (PDF)
Auden Poems (Word)
David Lehman is the author of seven books of poetry (most recently When a Woman Loves a Man) and six works of nonfiction (including The Last Avant-Garde, Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man, and The Perfect Murder). He is the series editor of The Best American Poetry, which he launched in 1988. He edited The Oxford Book of American Poetry as well as anthologies devoted to prose poems, erotic poetry, and poems illustrating traditional as well as innovative forms. He heads the poetry division of the graduate writing program at the New School in New York City.
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