By Aidan Wasley

W. H. Auden's emigration from England to the U.S. in 1939 marked greater than a turning aspect in his personal lifestyles and work--it replaced the process American poetry itself. The Age of Auden takes, for the 1st time, the complete degree of Auden's impact on American poetry. Combining a large survey of Auden's midcentury U.S. cultural presence with an account of his dramatic impression on a variety of more youthful American poets--from Allen Ginsberg to Sylvia Plath--the e-book bargains a brand new background of postwar American poetry.
For Auden, dealing with deepest predicament and international disaster, relocating to the us turned, within the recognized phrases of his first American poem, a brand new "way of happening." yet his redefinition of his paintings had a value that used to be felt a ways past the pages of his personal books. Aidan Wasley exhibits how Auden's sign function within the paintings and lives of a whole more youthful new release of yankee poets demanding situations traditional literary histories that position Auden open air the yank poetic culture. In making his case, Wasley will pay distinctive realization to 3 of Auden's such a lot wonderful American inheritors, proposing significant new readings of James Merrill, John Ashbery, and Adrienne wealthy. the result's a persuasive and compelling demonstration of a singular declare: so that it will comprehend smooth American poetry, we have to comprehend Auden's relevant position inside of it.

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Auden construes his poetry as the site of hopeful exchange between himself and his reader, a “real neighbourhood” where “art and industry and moeurs” can productively cohabit. It answers the evils of passivity and denial of relation with an insistence on active reciprocity. As love always is for Auden, it is tempered by doubt and faithlessness, aware of its own contingency and ephemerality, but like the lover reclining “human on my faithless arm” in Auden’s famously equivocal “Lullaby,” it retains its ideality despite its frailty: “Mortal, guilty, but to me / Entirely beautiful” [CP, 157].

Poetry expresses, and shares in, the human pathos of never truly being able to achieve one’s desire. indb 14 9/8/10 6:32:47 AM Auden in “Atlantis” 15 either fulfilled. The poet, like us, acknowledges the unlikeliness of his success in realizing true understanding, yet he, like us, must keep trying. Rather than despair of poetry’s impotence, the poet presses on, undeceived but optimistic. The force that compels him—and us—is not intellect, says Auden, but love: O when will men show common sense And throw away intelligence, That killjoy which discriminates, Recover what appreciates, The deep unsnobbish instinct which Alone can make relation rich, Upon the Beischlaf of the blood Establish a real neighbourhood Where art and industry and moeurs Are governed by an ordre du coeur?

Indb 10 9/8/10 6:32:47 AM Auden in “Atlantis” 11 acknowledging and relying on an earlier one to help chart his own path. The “choleric enthusiast, / Self-educated William Blake” is also especially important to the writing of this particular poem, as attested by another text he began writing in the summer of 1939 called “The Prolific and the Devourer,” taking its title from Blake’s anatomization of human identity in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell into warring halves, the creator and the consumer.

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