In Kallman ended their sexual relationship because he could not accept Auden's insistence on mutual fidelity,  but he and Auden remained companions for the rest of Auden's life, sharing houses and apartments from until Auden's death. In —41, Auden lived in a house at 7 Middagh Street in Brooklyn Heights , that he shared with Carson McCullers , Benjamin Britten, and others, which became a famous centre of artistic life, nicknamed "February House".
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He was told that, among those his age 32 , only qualified personnel were needed. In —42 he taught English at the University of Michigan. He was called for the draft in the United States Army in August , but was rejected on medical grounds. He had been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for —43 but did not use it, choosing instead to teach at Swarthmore College in — Strategic Bombing Survey , studying the effects of Allied bombing on German morale, an experience that affected his postwar work as his visit to Spain had affected him earlier.
In he became a naturalised citizen of the US. In , Auden began spending his summers in Europe, together with Chester Kallman, first in Ischia , Italy, where he rented a house. Then, starting in , he began spending his summers in Kirchstetten , Austria , where he bought a farmhouse from the prize money of the Premio Feltrinelli awarded to him in This fairly light workload allowed him to continue to spend winter in New York, where he lived at 77 St.
Mark's Place in Manhattan's East Village , and to spend summer in Europe, spending only three weeks each year lecturing in Oxford. In Kallman left the apartment he shared in New York with Auden, and lived during the winter in Athens while continuing to spend his summers with Auden in Austria. In , Auden moved his winter home from New York to Oxford, where his old college, Christ Church, offered him a cottage, while he continued to spend summers in Austria.
He died in Vienna in , a few hours after giving a reading of his poems at the Austrian Society for Literature; his death occurred at the Hotel Altenburger Hof where he was staying overnight before his intended return to Oxford the next day.
Auden published about four hundred poems, including seven long poems two of them book-length. His poetry was encyclopaedic in scope and method, ranging in style from obscure twentieth-century modernism to the lucid traditional forms such as ballads and limericks , from doggerel through haiku and villanelles to a "Christmas Oratorio" and a baroque eclogue in Anglo-Saxon meters. He also wrote more than four hundred essays and reviews about literature, history, politics, music, religion, and many other subjects. He collaborated on plays with Christopher Isherwood and on opera libretti with Chester Kallman , and worked with a group of artists and filmmakers on documentary films in the s and with the New York Pro Musica early music group in the s and s.
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About collaboration he wrote in "collaboration has brought me greater erotic joy. Auden controversially rewrote or discarded some of his most famous poems when he prepared his later collected editions. He wrote that he rejected poems that he found "boring" or "dishonest" in the sense that they expressed views he had never held but had used only because he felt they would be rhetorically effective. His literary executor , Edward Mendelson , argues in his introduction to Selected Poems that Auden's practice reflected his sense of the persuasive power of poetry and his reluctance to misuse it.
Auden began writing poems in , at fifteen, mostly in the styles of 19th-century romantic poets, especially Wordsworth , and later poets with rural interests, especially Thomas Hardy. At eighteen he discovered T. Eliot and adopted an extreme version of Eliot's style. He found his own voice at twenty when he wrote the first poem later included in his collected work, "From the very first coming down".
Twenty of these poems appeared in his first book Poems , a pamphlet hand-printed by Stephen Spender. In he wrote his first dramatic work, Paid on Both Sides , subtitled "A Charade", which combined style and content from the Icelandic sagas with jokes from English school life.
This mixture of tragedy and farce, with a dream play-within-a-play, introduced the mixed styles and content of much of his later work. A recurrent theme in these early poems is the effect of "family ghosts", Auden's term for the powerful, unseen psychological effects of preceding generations on any individual life and the title of a poem. A parallel theme, present throughout his work, is the contrast between biological evolution unchosen and involuntary and the psychological evolution of cultures and individuals voluntary and deliberate even in its subconscious aspects.
Auden's next large-scale work was The Orators : An English Study ; revised editions, , , in verse and prose, largely about hero-worship in personal and political life. In his shorter poems, his style became more open and accessible, and the exuberant "Six Odes" in The Orators reflect his new interest in Robert Burns. During these years, much of his work expressed left-wing views, and he became widely known as a political poet although he was privately more ambivalent about revolutionary politics than many reviewers recognised,  and Mendelson argues that he expounded political views partly out of a sense of moral duty and partly because it enhanced his reputation, and that he later regretted having done so.
His verse drama The Dance of Death was a political extravaganza in the style of a theatrical revue, which Auden later called "a nihilistic leg-pull. The Ascent of F6 , another play written with Isherwood, was partly an anti-imperialist satire, partly in the character of the self-destroying climber Michael Ransom an examination of Auden's own motives in taking on a public role as a political poet.
In Auden's publisher chose the title Look, Stranger! Auden was now arguing that an artist should be a kind of journalist, and he put this view into practice in Letters from Iceland a travel book in prose and verse written with Louis MacNeice , which included his long social, literary, and autobiographical commentary "Letter to Lord Byron".
Journey to a War a travel book in prose and verse, was written with Isherwood after their visit to the Sino-Japanese War. Auden's shorter poems now engaged with the fragility and transience of personal love "Danse Macabre", "The Dream", "Lay your sleeping head" , a subject he treated with ironic wit in his "Four Cabaret Songs for Miss Hedli Anderson " which included "Tell Me the Truth About Love" and the revised version of " Funeral Blues " , and also the corrupting effect of public and official culture on individual lives "Casino", "School Children", "Dover".
The elegies for Yeats and Freud are partly anti-heroic statements, in which great deeds are performed, not by unique geniuses whom others cannot hope to imitate, but by otherwise ordinary individuals who were "silly like us" Yeats or of whom it could be said "he wasn't clever at all" Freud , and who became teachers of others, not awe-inspiring heroes. In Auden wrote a long philosophical poem "New Year Letter", which appeared with miscellaneous notes and other poems in The Double Man At the time of his return to the Anglican Communion he began writing abstract verse on theological themes, such as "Canzone" and "Kairos and Logos".
Around , as he became more comfortable with religious themes, his verse became more open and relaxed, and he increasingly used the syllabic verse he had learned from the poetry of Marianne Moore. Auden's work in this era addresses the artist's temptation to use other persons as material for his art rather than valuing them for themselves "Prospero to Ariel" and the corresponding moral obligation to make and keep commitments while recognising the temptation to break them "In Sickness and Health". Auden , with most of his earlier poems, many in revised versions. While writing this, he also wrote " Bucolics ," a sequence of seven poems about man's relation to nature.
Both sequences appeared in his next book, The Shield of Achilles , with other short poems, including the book's title poem, "Fleet Visit", and "Epitaph for the Unknown Soldier". In —56 Auden wrote a group of poems about "history", the term he used to mean the set of unique events made by human choices, as opposed to "nature", the set of involuntary events created by natural processes, statistics, and anonymous forces such as crowds.
In the late s Auden's style became less rhetorical while its range of styles increased. In , having moved his summer home from Italy to Austria, he wrote "Good-bye to the Mezzogiorno"; other poems from this period include "Dichtung und Wahrheit: An Unwritten Poem", a prose poem about the relation between love and personal and poetic language, and the contrasting "Dame Kind", about the anonymous impersonal reproductive instinct.
These and other poems, including his —66 poems about history, appeared in Homage to Clio All these appeared in City Without Walls His lifelong passion for Icelandic legend culminated in his verse translation of The Elder Edda A Certain World : A Commonplace Book was a kind of self-portrait made up of favourite quotations with commentary, arranged in alphabetical order by subject.
His last completed poem was "Archaeology", about ritual and timelessness, two recurring themes in his later years. Auden's stature in modern literature has been contested. Probably the most common critical view from the s onward ranked him as the last and least of the three major twentieth-century British and Irish poets—behind Yeats and Eliot—while a minority view, more prominent in recent years, ranks him as the highest of the three.
Leavis , who wrote that Auden's ironic style was "self-defensive, self-indulgent or merely irresponsible";  and Harold Bloom , who wrote "Close thy Auden, open thy [Wallace] Stevens ,"  to the obituarist in The Times , who wrote: "W. Auden, for long the enfant terrible of English poetry… emerges as its undisputed master.
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Critical estimates were divided from the start. Reviewing Auden's first book, Poems , Naomi Mitchison wrote "If this is really only the beginning, we have perhaps a master to look forward to. I read, shuddered, and knew. Auden's departure for America in was debated in Britain once even in Parliament , with some seeing his emigration as a betrayal.
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Defenders of Auden such as Geoffrey Grigson , in an introduction to a anthology of modern poetry, wrote that Auden "arches over all". In the US, starting in the late s, the detached, ironic tone of Auden's regular stanzas became influential; John Ashbery recalled that in the s Auden "was the modern poet". From the s through the s, many critics lamented that Auden's work had declined from its earlier promise; Randall Jarrell wrote a series of essays making a case against Auden's later work,  and Philip Larkin 's "What's Become of Wystan?
The first full-length study of Auden was Richard Hoggart 's Auden: An Introductory Essay , which concluded that "Auden's work, then, is a civilising force. Spears' The Poetry of W.
Auden: The Disenchanted Island , "written out of the conviction that Auden's poetry can offer the reader entertainment, instruction, intellectual excitement, and a prodigal variety of aesthetic pleasures, all in a generous abundance that is unique in our time. Auden was one of three candidates recommended by the Nobel Committee to the Swedish Academy for the Nobel Prize in Literature in  and  and six recommended for the prize.
Another group of critics and poets has maintained that unlike other modern poets, Auden's reputation did not decline after his death, and the influence of his later writing was especially strong on younger American poets including John Ashbery , James Merrill , Anthony Hecht , and Maxine Kumin. Public recognition of Auden's work sharply increased after his "Funeral Blues" "Stop all the clocks" was read aloud in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral ; subsequently, a pamphlet edition of ten of his poems, Tell Me the Truth About Love , sold more than , copies.
After 11 September his poem "September 1, " was widely circulated and frequently broadcast. Overall, Auden's poetry was noted for its stylistic and technical achievement, its engagement with politics, morals, love, and religion, and its variety in tone, form and content.
Memorial stones and plaques commemorating Auden include those in Westminster Abbey ; at his birthplace at 55 Bootham, York;  near his home on Lordswood Road, Birmingham;  in the chapel of Christ Church, Oxford; on the site of his apartment at 1 Montague Terrace, Brooklyn Heights; at his apartment in 77 St.
The following list includes only the books of poems and essays that Auden prepared during his lifetime; for a more complete list, including other works and posthumous editions, see W. Auden bibliography. In the list below, works reprinted in the Complete Works of W. Auden are indicated by footnote references.
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