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Top 350 W.H. Auden Quotes (2023 Update)
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W.H. Auden Quote: “The chances are that, in the course of his lifetime, the major poet will write more bad poems than the minor, simply because major poets write a lot.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “The eye likes novelty, but the ear craves familiarity.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “Thoughts on his own death, like the distant roll of thunder at a picnic.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “I think the first prerequisite to civilization is an ability to make polite conversation.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “The closest modern equivalent to the Homeric hero is the ace fighter pilot.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “An unmanly sort of man whose love life seems to have been largely confined to crying in laps and playing mouse.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “Poetry is the only art people haven’t learned to consume like soup.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “Aphorisms are essentially an aristocratic genre of writing. The aphorist does not argue or explain, he asserts; and implicit in his assertion is a conviction that he is wiser and more intelligent than his readers.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “Every poet has his dream reader: mine keeps a look out for curious prosodic fauna like bacchics and choriambs.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “We all have these places where shy humiliations gambol on sunny afternoons.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “It is nonsense to speak of ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ pleasures. To a hungry man it is, rightly, more important that he eat than that he philosophize.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “Genealogies are admirable things, provided they do not encourage the curious delusion that some families are older than others.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “Those who hate to go to bed fear death; those who hate to get up fear life.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “God is Love, we are taught as children to believe. But when we first begin to get some inkling of how He loves us, we are repelled; it seems so cold, indeed, not love at all as we understand the word.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “The commonest ivory tower is that of the average man, the state of passivity towards experience.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “Most people call something profound, not because it is near some important truth but because it is distant from ordinary life. Thus, darkness is profound to the eye, silence to the ear; what-is-not is the profundity of what-is.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “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.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “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 Quote: “Soft as the earth is mankind and both need to be altered.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “One cannot review a bad book without showing off.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “For time is inches And the heart’s changes, Where ghost has haunted Lost and wanted.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “A writer is a maker, not a man of action: his private life is of no concern to anybody but himself, his family and his friends.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “For a desert island, one would choose a good dictionary rather than the greatest literary masterpiece imaginable, for, in relation to its readers, a dictionary is absolutely passive and may legitimately be read in an infinite number of ways.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “The true men of action in our time those who transform the world are not the politicians and statesmen but the scientists. Unfortunately poetry cannot celebrate them because their deeds are concerned with things, not persons, and are therefore speechless. 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.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “The most difficult problem in personal knowledge, whether of oneself or of others, is the problem of guessing when to think as a historian and when to think as an anthropologist.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “If there are any souls in hell, it is because that is where they insist on being.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “How happy is the lot of the mathematician! He is judged solely by his peers, and the standard is so high that no colleague or rival can ever win a reputation he does not deserve. No cashier writes a letter to the press complaining about the incomprehensibility of Modern Mathematics and comparing it unfavorably with the good old days when mathematicians were content to paper irregularly shaped rooms and fill bathtubs without closing the waste pipe.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “History marches to the drum of a clear idea.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “In addition to English, at least one ancient language, probably Greek or Hebrew, and two modern languages would be required.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “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 Quote: “Who on earth invented the silly convention that it is boring or impolite to talk shop? Nothing is more interesting to listen to, especially if the shop is not one’s own.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “Drama is based on the Mistake.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “Man desires to be free and he desires to feel important. This places him in a dilemma, for the more he emancipates himself from necessity the less important he feels.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “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 Quote: “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 Quote: “There are three cardinal rules – don’t take somebody else’s boyfriend unless you’ve been specifically invited to do so, don’t take a drink without being asked, and keep a scrupulous accounting in financial matters.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “The theater has never been any good since the actors became gentlemen.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “No hero is mortal till he dies.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “Why doesn’t the United States take over the monarchy and unite with England? England does have important assets. Naturally the longer you wait, the more they will dwindle. At least you could use it for a summer resort instead of Maine.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “I just try to put the thing out and hope somebody will read it. Someone says: ‘Whom do you write for?’ I reply: ‘Do you read me?’ If they say ‘Yes,’ I say, ‘Do you like it?’ If they say ‘No,’ then I say, ‘I don’t write for you.’”
W.H. Auden Quote: “Literary confessors are contemptible, like beggars who exhibit their sores for money, but not so contemptible as the public that buys their books.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “What living occasion can, Be just to the absent?”
W.H. Auden Quote: “Most people enjoy the sight of their own handwriting as they enjoy the smell of their own farts.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “The parlour cars and Pullmans are packed also with scented assassins, salad-eaters who murder on milk.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “But if a stranger in the train asks me my occupation, I never answer “writer” for fear that he may go on to ask me what I write, and to answer “poetry” would embarrass us both, for we both know that nobody can earn a living simply by writing poetry.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “Just as a good man forgets his deed the moment he has done it, a genuine writer forgets a work as soon as he has completed it and starts to think about the next one; if he thinks about his past work at all, he is more likely to remember its faults than its virtues. Fame often makes a writer vain, but seldom makes him proud.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “What the poet says has never been said before, but, once he has said it, his readers recognize its validity for themselves.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “Drama began as the act of a whole community. Ideally, there would be no speculators. In practice, every member of the audience should feel like an understudy.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “Lovers have lived so long with giants and elves, they won’t believe again in their own size.”
W.H. Auden Quote: “Whatever the field under discussion, those who engage in debate must not only believe in each other’s good faith, but also in their capacity to arrive at the truth.”
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