Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

W. H. Auden quotes and sayings on affection, belief, books, culture, character, criticism, death, earth, ego, fear, God, giving, happiness, history etc.

83 Great Quotes By W. H. Auden

Quick Facts

Famous As: Poet

Born On: February 21, 1907

Died On: September 29, 1973

Born In: York

Died At Age: 66

Wystan Hugh Auden was a British-American poet renowned for his technical adept and stylistic achievements. His poems covered subjects including social and political issues, religion, love and morals. In his popular collections such as ‘The Age of Anxiety’, ‘The Dyer's Hand’ and ‘The Orators’, contained significant works namely Funeral Blues, September 1, 1939, The Shield of Achilles, For the Time Being, Horae Canonicae and The Sea and the Mirror. Apart from his poetic work, he was also associated with creation of several musical collaboration and film scripts. Auden’s prose writing involved reviews on psychological, literary and religious subjects. Proclaimed by Joseph Brodsky as the greatest mind in the 20th century, much of Auden’s work became popular after his death. Throughout his literary career, he was constantly compared with the likes of W. B. Yeats and T. S. Eliot. His satirical and ironically clipped style of writing inspired many young poets such as Charles Madge, Stephen Spender, Cecil Day-Lewis, and Louis MacNeice. His poems and writing covered a broad spectrum of subjects. We have collected his most notable quotes and thoughts from his poems and writings. Let us go through some of the greatest quotes by this British poet.

Listed In:

I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you Till China and Africa meet, And the river jumps over the mountain And the salmon sing in the street

W. H. Auden

We must love one another or die

W. H. Auden

Poetry might be defined as the clear expression of mixed feelings.

W. H. Auden

We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for I don't know.

W. H. Auden

Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.

W. H. Auden

Some writers confuse authenticity, which they ought always to aim at, with originality, which they should never bother about.

W. H. 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.

W. H. Auden

Death is the sound of distant thunder at a picnic.

W. H. Auden

If equal affection cannot be, let the more loving be me.

W. H. Auden

Perhaps there is only one cardinal sin: impatience. Because of impatience we were driven out of Paradise, because of impatience we cannot return.

W. H. Auden

In times of joy, all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag.

W. H. Auden

History is, strictly speaking, the study of questions; the study of answers belongs to anthropology and sociology.

W. H. Auden

Like everything which is not the involuntary result of fleeting emotion but the creation of time and will, any marriage, happy or unhappy, is infinitely more interesting than any romance, however passionate.

W. H. Auden

All sins tend to be addictive, and the terminal point of addiction is damnation.

W. H. Auden

In relation to a writer, most readers believe in the Double Standard: they may be unfaithful to him as often as they like, but he must never, never be unfaithful to them.

W. H. Auden

The ear tends to be lazy, craves the familiar and is shocked by the unexpected; the eye, on the other hand, tends to be impatient, craves the novel and is bored by repetition.

W. H. Auden

Art is born of humiliation.

W. H. Auden

Almost all of our relationships begin and most of them continue as forms of mutual exploitation, a mental or physical barter, to be terminated when one or both parties run out of goods.

W. H. Auden

'Healing,' Papa would tell me, 'is not a science, but the intuitive art of wooing nature.'

W. H. Auden

Between friends differences in taste or opinion are irritating in direct proportion to their triviality.

W. H. Auden

My face looks like a wedding-cake left out in the rain.

W. H. Auden

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one; Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun; Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood. For nothing now can ever come to any good.

W. H. Auden

Now is the age of anxiety.

W. H. Auden

The class distinctions proper to a democratic society are not those of rank or money, still less, as is apt to happen when these are abandoned, of race, but of age.

W. H. Auden

All that we are not stares back at what we are.

W. H. Auden

A real book is not one that we read, but one that reads us.

W. H. Auden

May it not be that, just as we have to have faith in Him, God has to have faith in us and, considering the history of the human race so far, may it not be that 'faith' is even more difficult for Him than it is for us?

W. H. Auden

All works of art are commissioned in the sense that no artist can create one by a simple act of will but must wait until what he believes to be a good idea for a work comes to him.

W. H. Auden

I don't get acting jobs because of my looks.

W. H. Auden

Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can; all of them make me laugh.

W. H. Auden

I'll love you, dear, I'll love you till China and Africa meet and the river jumps over the mountain and the salmon sing in the street.

W. H. Auden

Choice of attention - to pay attention to this and ignore that - is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer. In both cases, a man is responsible for his choice and must accept the consequences, whatever they may be.

W. H. Auden

If time were the wicked sheriff in a horse opera, I'd pay for riding lessons and take his gun away.

W. H. Auden

He was my North, my South, my East and West, My working week and my Sunday rest, My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song; I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

W. H. Auden

We all have these places where shy humiliations gambol on sunny afternoons.

W. H. Auden

A professor is someone who talks in someone else's sleep.

W. H. Auden

God bless the USA, so large, so friendly, and so rich.

W. H. Auden

Evil is unspectacular and always human, and shares our bed and eats at our own table.

W. H. Auden

Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.

W. H. Auden

You owe it to all of us all get on with what you're good at.

W. H. Auden

It takes little talent to see what lies under one's nose, a good deal to know in what direction to point that organ.

W. H. Auden

Good can imagine Evil; but Evil cannot imagine Good.

W. H. Auden

A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.

W. H. Auden

For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?

W. H. Auden

In a world of prayer, we are all equal in the sense that each of us is a unique person, with a unique perspective on the world, a member of a class of one.

W. H. Auden

Learn from your dreams what you lack.

W. H. Auden

You shall love your crooked neighbour, with your crooked heart.

W. H. Auden

No human being is innocent, but there is a class of innocent human actions called Games.

W. H. Auden

Sob, heavy world Sob as you spin, Mantled in mist Remote from the happy.

W. H. Auden

Murder is unique in that it abolishes the party it injures, so that society has to take the place of the victim and on his behalf demand atonement or grant forgiveness; it is the one crime in which society has a direct interest.

W. H. Auden

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

W. H. Auden

If equal affection cannot be, Let the more loving one be me.

W. H. Auden

Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered.

W. H. Auden

The way to read a fairy tale is to throw yourself in.

W. H. Auden

The center that I cannot find is known to my unconscious mind.

W. H. Auden

A verbal art like poetry is reflective; it stops to think. Music is immediate, it goes on to become.

W. H. Auden

Every autobiography is concerned with two characters, a Don Quixote, the Ego, and a Sancho Panza, the Self.

W. H. Auden

One cannot walk through an assembly factory and not feel that one is in Hell.

W. H. Auden

A tremendous number of people in America work very hard at something that bores them. Even a rich man thinks he has to go down to the office everyday. Not because he likes it but because he can't think of anything else to do.

W. H. Auden

You know there are no secrets in America. It's quite different in England, where people think of a secret as a shared relation between two people.

W. H. Auden

To save your world you asked this man to die; would this man, could he see you now, ask why?

W. H. Auden

A poet can write about a man slaying a dragon, but not about a man pushing a button that releases a bomb.

W. H. Auden

Geniuses are the luckiest of mortals because what they must do is the same as what they most want to do.

W. H. Auden

Music is the best means we have of digesting time.

W. H. Auden

It's a sad fact about our culture that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can by practicing it.

W. H. Auden

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

W. H. Auden

It's frightening how easy it is to commit murder in America. Just a drink too much. I can see myself doing it. In England, one feels all the social restraints holding one back. But here, anything can happen.

W. H. Auden

Before people complain of the obscurity of modern poetry, they should first examine their consciences and ask themselves with how many people and on how many occasions they have genuinely and profoundly shared some experience with another.

W. H. Auden

No hero is mortal till he dies.

W. H. Auden

Art is our chief means of breaking bread with the dead.

W. H. Auden

The countenances of children, like those of animals, are masks, not faces, for they have not yet developed a significant profile of their own.

W. H. Auden

Of all possible subjects, travel is the most difficult for an artist, as it is the easiest for a journalist.

W. H. Auden

Music can be made anywhere, is invisible and does not smell.

W. H. Auden

Murder is commoner among cooks than among members of any other profession.

W. H. Auden

Health is the state about which medicine has nothing to say.

W. H. Auden

Hemingway is terribly limited. His technique is good for short stories, for people who meet once in a bar very late at night, but do not enter into relations. But not for the novel.

W. H. Auden

A poet is a professional maker of verbal objects.

W. H. Auden

The words of a dead man are modified in the guts of the living.

W. H. Auden

Fame often makes a writer vain, but seldom makes him proud.

W. H. Auden

It is a sad fact about our culture that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can by practicing it.

W. H. Auden

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

W. H. Auden

No poet or novelist wishes he were the only one who ever lived, but most of them wish they were the only one alive, and quite a number fondly believe their wish has been granted.

W. H. Auden

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

W. H. Auden