Wystan Hugh Auden Quotes

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

Wystan Hugh Auden

When one looks into the window of a store which sells devotional art objects, one can't help wishing the iconoclasts had won.

Wystan Hugh Auden

Unfortunately for the modern dramatist, during the past century and a half the public realm has been less and less of a realm where human deeds are done, and more and more of a realm of mere human behavior. The contemporary dramatist has lost his natural subject.

Wystan Hugh Auden

To some degree every American poet feels that the whole responsibility for contemporary poetry has fallen upon his shoulders, that he is a literary aristocracy of one.

Wystan Hugh Auden

In societies with fewer opportunities for amusement, it was also easier to tell a mere wish from a real desire. If, in order to hear some music, a man has to wait for six months and then walk twenty miles, it is easy to tell whether the words, "I should like to hear some music," mean what they appear to mean, or merely, "At this moment I should like to forget myself." When all he has to do is press a switch, it is more difficult. He may easily come to believe that wishes can come true.

Wystan Hugh Auden

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

The law cannot forgive, for the law has not been wronged, only broken; only persons can be wronged. The law can pardon, but it can only pardon what it has the power to punish.

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
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