Without a doubt, Auden is one of my favorite poets. My copy of his collected poems is worn and dog-eared and I wouldn't replace it for the world. Our Friday traditio is a video of Auden reciting his 1969 poem, "Doggrel by a Senior Citizen." My Dutch readers will be happy to learn that it features Dutch subtitles. The video gets off to a ragged start. Here is the first stanza, which is garbled:
Is not the planet I call mine,
The world, I mean, that gives me strength
To hold off chaos at arm's length.
I find his slip-up charming. I am hard-pressed to think of a contemporary English-speaking figure, public intellectual, if you will, of the depth and humanity of W.H. Auden.
Three stanzas from "Doggrel"-
Was that of 1662:
Though with-it sermons may be well,
Liturgical reforms are hell.
Sex was of course -- it always is --
The most enticing of mysteries,
But news-stands did not then supply
Then Speech was mannerly, an Art,
Like learning not to belch or fart:
I cannot settle which is worse,
The Anti-Novel or Free Verse.