W. H. AUDEN QUOTES

English-born poet (1907-1973)

Evil is unspectacular and always human
And shares our bed and eats at our own table.

W. H. AUDEN, "Herman Melville"

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Tags: evil


No good opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible.

W. H. AUDEN, Time Magazine, Dec. 29, 1961

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Tags: opera


Poetry might be defined as the clear expression of mixed feelings.

W. H. AUDEN, New Year Letter

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We would rather be ruined than changed
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die.

W. H. AUDEN, The Age of Anxiety

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Tags: illusion


A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.

W. H. AUDEN, "Squares and Oblongs", Poets at Work

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Tags: language


To ask the hard question is simple,
The simple act of the confused will.

W. H. AUDEN, "To Ask the Hard Question is Simple", Poems

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I am beginning to lose patience
With my personal relations.
They are not deep
And they are not cheap.

W. H. AUDEN, "Case Histories"

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About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters.

W. H. AUDEN, Musee des Beaux Arts

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Tags: suffering


All we are not stares back at what we are.

W. H. AUDEN, "The Sea and the Mirror"

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Tags: identity


Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered.

W. H. AUDEN, "Reading", The Dyer's Hand and Other Essays

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Tags: books


A craftsman knows in advance what the finished result will be, while the artist knows only what it will be when he has finished it.

W. H. AUDEN, "A Poet of the Actual", Forewords and Afterwords

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Tags: art


One can only blaspheme if one believes.

W. H. AUDEN, "Concerning the Unpredictable", Forewords and Afterwords

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Thank God for books as an alternative to conversation.

W. H. AUDEN, The Complete Works of W. H. Auden

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What the mass media offers is not popular art, but entertainment which is intended to be consumed like food, forgotten, and replaced by a new dish. This is bad for everyone; the majority lose all genuine taste of their own, and the minority become cultural snobs.

W. H. AUDEN, "The Poet & the City", The Dyer's Hand and Other Essays

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A real book is not one that we read, but one that reads us.

W. H. AUDEN, attributed, 20,000 Quips & Quotes

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Hunger allows no choice.

W. H. AUDEN, "September 1, 1939", Selected Poems

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Tags: hunger


Almost all of our relationships begin and most of them continue as forms of mutual exploitation, a mental or physical barter, to be terminated when one or both parties run out of goods.

W. H. AUDEN, "Hic et Ille", The Dyer's Hand and Other Essays

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Tags: relationships


How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

W. H. AUDEN, "The More Loving One"

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Murder is unique in that it abolishes the party it injures, so that society has to take the place of the victim and on his behalf demand atonement or grant forgiveness; it is the one crime in which society has a direct interest.

W. H. AUDEN, The Dyer's Hand and Other Essays

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From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow.

W. H. AUDEN, "September 1, 1939", Selected Poems

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