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This review is from: As I Walked Out One Evening: Songs, Ballads, Lullabies, Limericks, and Other Light Verse (Paperback)
There is at times too much of the cynic in this - a collection of the `lighter' verse of W H Auden. There is the famous "Stop all the clocks" poem - which is wonderful, despite being tainted by its inclusion in an otherwise fairly execrable film; the marvellous "night mail" which is impossible to read without a ghostly steam train in the head and one or two others which raise a laugh or make one stop a moment to think.
On the whole, however, there is also much that is so cynical and locked in its particular time that it says nothing much to anyone not - or so I imagine - an intimate of Auden's poetical circle. I wanted something a little more universal, but perhaps I have to read the more obscure and serious poems for that? He's quite a daunting poet in any case - such sinewy power resides in some of these squibby pieces that it's like looking for gold in a pan of river shale. Here's a gleam of wit, there a sudden piercing dart that lights the whole in a shock of understanding. But too much of this poetry is like an exquisite gift wrapped in dirty newspaper.