W. H. Auden (1907-1973) never ceased to experiment with poetry in its form and subject matter, becoming quite complex in his later works. Auden's early poems are pastoral and lyrical, speaking of the windswept Yorkshire moors and disused, derelict mine-works which fascinated the young Auden. He travels through poetic territory, transfixed upon Freud and folktales and arrives upon a landscape shaped by conflict, depicting the horrors of war and the brutality of tyrants, such as Hitler, that resonates with the reader: `When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,/And when he cried the little children died in the streets'. And in his later poems there is a pre-occupation with space and time, sex and ritual and of course, love: `Lay your sleeping head, my love, /Human on my faithless arm'. As a young man, the erudite Auden was drawn to Marxism but later grew closer towards an Anglo-Catholicism which brought about an intensified `self-censorship' period. His poems are often dazzling and sometimes annoying, but there is an integrity which remains throughout!
Was this review helpful to you?