quaker fencer

kathz isn't quite my name. I may be a Quaker. If I'm a fencer I'm a bad one and I don't do sabre. If I'm a Quaker I'm a bad one - but you've worked that out already. Read on. Comment if you like. Don't expect a reply.

Location: United Kingdom

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

In Memoriam Wystan Hugh Auden 1907-1973

There's not much about fencing in Auden; all I can think of is the end-word "sword" in Sebastian's sestina in The Sea and the Mirror. Although he taught in Quaker schools and colleges, he was never a Quaker and made pertinent criticisms of Quakerism. He even flouted Swarthmore's rules by serving beer, bread and cheese to his students. But of all 20th century poets, Auden is the one I know best and love most - and today is the centenary of his birth.

I love the brilliance of his poetry and the infuriating ethical determination to write (or edit or cut) as his conscience demanded. I love his engagement with big political questions and his wordplay and silly games. I love his arrogant, donnish tones and underlying humility. I love his capacity for love and the determination to fulfil his human responsibility.

If you sit down the with Collected Poems for an hour or so, you will probably find much that irritates but also something that seems written especially for you.

Wystan Hugh Auden, in the language of your adopted Austrian home, schlaf in Ruhe.


Blogger Elizabeth McClung said...

well, I tried, I found a few that irritated, but none that seemed written just for me - yet....even his TWO SONGS FOR HEDLI ANDERSON seem far too restrained for my sentiment - I'm more of a "burn down the house, salt the earth" type.

5:53 am  
Blogger kathz said...

Try the gloom about the world in The Shield of Achilles - or the oddity of The Witnesses ("when the green field comes off like a lid/revealing what was much better hid"). You'll find one that gets you, one day .... I hope. They move me more now than when I first encountered them.

11:20 pm  

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