W.H. (Whatta Hunk) Auden. Sigh...
I have fallen absolutely, irrevocably, unflinchingly in love with W.H. Auden.
I’m ashamed to say that I created a few new expletives when his 897-page collected works popped up on my MFA reading list. I planned to quickly scan the monstrous volume for cool stuff (mentions of lust, free coupons, whatever) and pen a heartfelt, though somewhat cursory, analysis, using words like “sweeping,” “intricate,” “concise” and maybe even “hullabaloo.”
But W.H. is a snaky seducer. I’m reading every page aloud:
Motionless, deep in his mind, lies the past the poet’s forgotten,
Till some small experience wake it to life and a poem’s begotten,
Words its presumptive primordial, Feeling its field of induction,
Meaning its pattern of growth determined during construction.
Now I’m gazing at his craggy, hangdog countenance on the book cover, thinking yea, I would’ve married him in a heartbeat, and we’d be miserable, a tortured couplet for sure, but damn, he writes like a guy who sold his soul to the devil for a pen.
Why didn’t anybody tell me about this before?
Patricia Smith has been called “a testament to the power of words to change lives.” She is the author of seven books of poetry, including Incendiary Art (2017); Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah (2012), which won the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets; Blood Dazzler (2008), a chronicle...