Wystan Hugh Auden Quotes

All pity is self-pity.

Wystan Hugh Auden

All wishes, whatever their apparent content, have the same and unvarying meaning: "I refuse to be what I am."

Wystan Hugh Auden

To have a sense of sin means to feel guilty at there being an ethical choice to make, a guilt which, however "good" I may become, remains unchanged.

Wystan Hugh Auden

The image of myself which I try to create in my own mind in order that I may love myself is very different from the image which I try to create in the minds of others in order that they may love me.

Wystan Hugh Auden

When I consider others I can easily believe that their bodies express their personalities and that the two are inseparable. But it is impossible for me not to feel that my body is other than I, that I inhabit it like a house, and that my face is a mask which, with or without my consent, conceals my real nature from others.

Wystan Hugh Auden

All poets adore explosions, thunderstorms, tornadoes, conflagrations, ruins, scenes of spectacular carnage. The poetic imagination is not at all a desirable quality in a statesman.

Wystan Hugh Auden

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.

Wystan Hugh Auden

When I find myself in the company of scientists, I feel like a shabby curate who has strayed by mistake into a drawing room full of dukes.

Wystan Hugh Auden

Without Art, we should have no notion of the sacred; without Science, we should always worship false gods.

Wystan Hugh Auden

The condition of mankind is, and always has been, so miserable and depraved that, if anyone were to say to the poet: "For God's sake stop singing and do something useful like putting on the kettle or fetching bandages," what just reason could he give for refusing? But nobody says this. The self-appointed unqualified nurse says: "You are to sing the patient a song which will make him believe that I, and I alone, can cure him. If you can't or won't, I shall confiscate your passport and send you to the mines." And the poor patient in his delirium cries: "Please sing me a song which will give me sweet dreams instead of nightmares. If you succeed, I will give you a penthouse in New York or a ranch in Arizona."

Wystan Hugh Auden

The poet who writes "free" verse is like Robinson Crusoe on his desert island: he must do all his cooking, laundry and darning for himself. In a few exceptional cases, this manly independence produces something original and impressive, but more often the result is squalor dirty sheets on the unmade bed and empty bottles on the unswept floor.

Wystan Hugh Auden

In the course of many centuries a few laborsaving devices have been introduced into the mental kitchen alcohol, coffee, tobacco, Benzedrine, etc. but these are very crude, constantly breaking down, and liable to injure the cook. Literary composition in the twentieth century A.D. is pretty much what it was in the twentieth century B.C.: nearly everything has still to be done by hand.

Wystan Hugh Auden

At first critics classified authors as Ancients, that is to say, Greek and Latin authors, and Moderns, that is to say, every post-Classical Author. Then they classified them by eras, the Augustans, the Victorians, etc., and now they classify them by decades, the writers of the '30's, '40's, etc. Very soon, it seems, they will be labeling authors, like automobiles, by the year.

Wystan Hugh Auden

One cannot review a bad book without showing off.

Wystan Hugh Auden

In general, when reading a scholarly critic, one profits more from his quotations than from his comments.

Wystan Hugh Auden

Marriage is rarely bliss But, surely it would be worse As particles to pelt At thousands of miles per sec About a universe In which a lover's kiss Would either not be felt Or break the loved one's neck.

Wystan Hugh Auden
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