W. H. Auden

Franklin Library W. H. Auden books

Collected Poems of W. H. Auden - Limited First Edition Society - 1976
Collected Poems by W. H. Auden - Greatest Books of the Twentieth Century - 1978
Collected Poems of W. H. Auden - 100 Greatest Masterpieces of American Literature - 1980

Who was W. H. Auden?

Wystan Hugh Auden, commonly known as W. H. Auden, was a renowned Anglo-American poet, born on February 21, 1907, in York, England. He became one of the leading literary figures of the 20th century, known for his distinctive voice, intellectual depth, and wide-ranging poetic style. Auden showed an early interest in literature and began writing poetry during his teenage years. He attended Christ Church, Oxford, where he became associated with a group of writers known as the "Auden Generation," which included Stephen Spender and Christopher Isherwood. During this time, Auden developed his poetic skills and began to explore various themes in his work.

In the 1930s, Auden's poetry underwent a significant transformation. He moved to London and became associated with a group of leftist writers, and his works began to reflect his political and social concerns. Notable works from this period include Spain, a poem inspired by the Spanish Civil War, and September 1, 1939, written in response to the outbreak of World War II. In 1939, Auden emigrated to the United States, where he continued to produce influential poetry. His themes evolved to encompass a broader range of human experiences, and his language became more accessible. Some of his notable American works include The Age of Anxiety, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1948, and The Shield of Achilles.

For the Time Being is a poem written by W. H. Auden, but there is no specific work by Auden titled For the Time Being as a standalone entity. Instead, For the Time Being is a subtitle that is often associated with one of Auden's longer poems, specifically The Sea and the Mirror: A Commentary on Shakespeare's The Tempest. The Sea and the Mirror was published in 1944 and serves as Auden's response to William Shakespeare's play The Tempest. The subtitle, For the Time Being, indicates a sense of temporality or transience, suggesting a reflection on the contemporary world.

Apart from his contributions to poetry, Auden was a highly regarded essayist and critic. He engaged in literary and cultural commentary, expressing his thoughts on the role of the artist in society. He also explored his interest in psychology, theology, and philosophy in various essays.

Auden's personal life underwent changes as well. In 1935, he married Erika Mann, the daughter of the famous German novelist Thomas Mann, to provide her with British citizenship. However, the marriage was not a romantic one and was later dissolved. Auden's own sexuality and struggles with his identity were recurrent themes in his work. Later in his life, Auden settled in the United States, becoming an American citizen in 1946. He taught at various universities, including the University of Michigan and Princeton University. Despite his success, he continued to grapple with existential questions and concerns about the state of the world. W. H. Auden passed away on September 29, 1973, in Vienna, Austria. His legacy endures through his profound and diverse body of work, which continues to be studied and admired for its intellectual depth, lyrical beauty, and exploration of the human condition.

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