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W H Auden

Ton up for Wystan!

(Lines in celebration of the centenary of the birth of W. H. Auden)

He buggered off in the dead of winter
The Nazis were in Poland, the Czechs had been smothered
Not quite the time for a poetic gesture
The country was at war; no one much bothered
Even the most fervent well-wisher would
Wonder why he'd flown the coop with Isherwood

Far from his agreeable boat-trip
The armies ran over the Maginot Line
The smoke rose, and the burned bodies were raked into particles
But his sojourn in the Big Apple was marked
By a number of magazine articles

Now he's in every broadsheet in the country
And all that equivocal stuff about Spain is 'the conscience of a nation' -
Rather than the usual cry of self-preservation
The thoughts of a dead man, turned all transcendent
Make a nice 1500 words in the Independent
'We must love one another and die.'
Sounds good, Uncle Wiz. Let's give it a try.

Guild of poets, stifle sniggers
Wystan Auden's reached three figures
Let the English vessel lie
Safe beneath Manhattan sky

On the far side of the Atlantic
Let the poet's muse stay antic
Never mind absconding sods
Keep the free man from false Gods...

D J Taylor




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