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By Arthur Kirsch

ISBN-10: 0300108141

ISBN-13: 9780300108149

One of many 20th century’s most vital poets, W. H. Auden stands as an eloquent instance of somebody inside of whom notion and religion not just coexist yet certainly nourish one another. This e-book is the 1st to discover intimately how Auden’s non secular religion helped him to return to phrases with himself as an artist and as a guy, regardless of his early disinterest in faith and his homosexuality. Auden and Christianity exhibits additionally how Auden’s Anglican religion informs, and is usually the categorical topic of, his poetry and prose.Arthur Kirsch, a number one Auden pupil, discusses the poet’s boyhood spiritual event and the works he wrote earlier than emigrating to the USA in addition to his formal go back to the Anglican Communion at the start of worldwide warfare II. Kirsch then specializes in Auden’s feedback and on ignored and underestimated works of the poet’s later years. via insightful readings of Auden’s writings and biography, Kirsch records that Auden’s religion and his non secular doubt have been the matrix of his paintings and existence.

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All three of these stanzas assert religious beliefs that were to become important to Auden. “Life remains a blessing” became a refrain of his existence. In a tribute to him after his death, his close friend Hannah Arendt wrote in exasperation, “Time and again, when to all appearances he could not cope 16 E A R LY Y E A R S any more, when his slum apartment was so cold that the water no longer functioned . . when his suit . . ’” Counting his blessings, however, was more than just Auden’s idiosyncratic response to his circumstances, selfcreated or otherwise.

Possibly, Auden may also have been thinking of Brueghel’s Winter Landscape with Skaters and a Bird Trap, a scene of children skating on a pond, as well as The Slaughter of the Innocents, a village scene in which a host of soldiers are calmly killing children, while dogs run and play, and horses stand imperturbably tethered 20 E A R LY Y E A R S to posts. Auden’s second stanza describes Brueghel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, also in the Musée des Beaux Arts, which shows a shepherd calmly leaning on his staff, accompanied by his dog and surrounded by his sheep, a ploughman at work, a fisherman tending his line, and a ship sailing unaware close by, while the legs of Icarus, small and almost unnoticeable, are disappearing into the sea, his body already submerged.

Because, suffering on your account the torments of sexual jealousy, I have had a glimpse of the infinite vileness of masculine conceit; As this morning, I think of Joseph, I think of you. . . . . . . Because, on account of you, I have been, in intention, and almost in act, a murderer; As this morning I think of Herod, I think of you. . . . . . . Because I believe in your creative gift, and because I rely absolutely upon your critical judgement, As this morning I think of the Magi, I think of you.

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Auden and Christianity by Arthur Kirsch


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