Wystan Hugh Auden Quotes

Whatever the field under discussion, those who engage in debate must not only believe in each other's good faith, but also in their capacity to arrive at the truth.

Wystan Hugh Auden

A vice in common can be the ground of a friendship but not a virtue in common. X and Y may be friends because they are both drunkards or womanizers but, if they are both sober and chaste, they are friends for some other reason.

Wystan Hugh Auden

A million eyes, a million boots in line, Without expression, waiting for a sign.

Wystan Hugh Auden

Death is the sound of distant thunder at a picnic.

Wystan Hugh Auden

Minus times minus equals plus, The reason for this we need not discuss.

Wystan Hugh Auden

We are all on earth to help others. What on earth the others are here for, I can't imagine.

Wystan Hugh Auden

I don't think the mystical experience can be verbalized. When the ego disappears, so does power over language.

Wystan Hugh Auden

I never write when I'm drunk. Why should one need aids? The Muse is a high-spirited girl who doesn't like to be brutally or coarsely wooed. And she doesn't like slavish devotion then she lies.

Wystan Hugh Auden

Normally, when one passes someone on the street who is in pain, one either tries to help him, or one simply looks the other way. With a photo there's no human decision; you're not there; you can't turn away; you simply gape. It's a form of voyeurism.

Wystan Hugh Auden

Genealogies are admirable things, provided they do not encourage the curious delusion that some families are older than others.

Wystan Hugh Auden

One can only blaspheme if one believes.

Wystan Hugh Auden

In any modern city, a great deal of our energy has to be expended in not seeing, not hearing, not smelling. An inhabitant of New York who possessed the sensory acuteness of an African Bushman would very soon go mad.

Wystan Hugh Auden

It is, for example, axiomatic that we should all think of ourselves as being more sensitive than other people because, when we are insensitive in our dealings with others, we cannot be aware of it at the time: conscious insensitivity is a self-contradiction.

Wystan Hugh Auden

Most people are even less original in their dreaming than in their waking life; their dreams are more monotonous than their thoughts and oddly enough, more literary.

Wystan Hugh Auden

Most people call something profound, not because it is near some important truth but because it is distant from ordinary life. Thus, darkness is profound to the eye, silence to the ear; what-is-not is the profundity of what-is.

Wystan Hugh Auden

In most poetic expressions of patriotism, it is impossible to distinguish what is one of the greatest human virtues from the worst human vice, collective egotism. The virtue of patriotism has been extolled most loudly and publicly by nations that are in the process of conquering others, by the Roman, for example, in the first century B.C., the French in the 1790s, the English in the nineteenth century, and the Germans in the first half of the twentieth. To such people, love of one's country involves denying the right of others, of the Gauls, the Italians, the Indians, the Poles, to love theirs.

Wystan Hugh Auden
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