Collected Poems
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Collected Poems

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  3,687 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Between 1927 and his death in 1973, W. H. Auden endowed poetry in the English language with a new face.Or rather, with several faces, since his work ranged from the political to the religious, from the urbane to the pastoral, from the mandarin to the invigoratingly plain-spoken.

This collection presents all the poems Auden wished to preserve, in the texts that received his...more
Paperback, 960 pages
Published April 23rd 1991 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1945)
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Louisa
W.H. Auden, you rock my world:

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look
...more
Cinco
People are always surprised to hear this is Auden's, but it is:

As the poets have mournfully sung,
Death takes the innocent young,
The rolling-in-money,
The screamingly-funny,
And those who are very well hung.
Jen
Jun 16, 2013 Jen rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
673 pages of Auden’s poetry, from 1927, when he was 20, to 1972, the year before his death. I’m not going to pretend to have anything original to say about Auden and there are single poems of his about which a full review could be written. So this is just going to be some impressions.

First, this was a slog. I can certainly stand impressed with his intelligence (clearly a genius) and his skill with craft but I won’t be calling him a favorite. Though he is to be lauded as a serious poet who was al...more
Emilian Kasemi
Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell...

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.
Kelly
Lullaby

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant enchanted slope
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope;
While an abstrac
...more
Nancy Watson
I first became aware of Auden in my early teens after hearing a reading of Funeral Blues in the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral. That poem enchanted me and I have been an Auden fan since! This collection of poems may seem a bit daunting because of the size; good for picking up and reading a few at a time or getting lost in Auden's spell-binding language for hours at a time.
Whitney
I don't usually read poetry anymore, but when I want to this is definitely the book I turn to.
Celeste
I will be reading this book until I die.
Aaron
The greatest poet of the past 100 years.
Patrick Gibson


There is never a volume of Auden far from me. No matter who you are or what your background, he is a poet you can love.

As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
"Love has no ending.

"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,

"I'll love you till the ocean
Is fold...more
Ken W.
Mar 12, 2013 Ken W. marked it as to-read
Having read an autobigraphy, interspersed with poetry, of Auden by Charles Osborne, I think I have a better understanding, holistically, of the man and his writing. Auden used his wayward intellect to create a flippant, yet cleverly contrived personal style, with witticisms of the cartoonish kind, and bon mots, to be applauded like a theatrical event, similar to his many collaborations with Stravinsky and Benjamin Britten.

He was sometimes outrageously gay, and belonged to an Oxford group which...more
Sarah
Auden tends to either hit the mark with great skill, or be totally off base.

It's nice to have the whole collection of poems, but there are a lot of totally forgettable ones in here.

However, some of his work is so starkly and utterly beautiful, this is a collection I'll always want to have with me.

"Lullaby" alone makes this a treasured book.
Simon
I dipped back into the old Auden collection this week. Wow, still blown away. He's our bridge from the Romantic to the Modern. Formally flawless in so many poems, always stimulating intellectually, even when he misses the mark. I favour the earlier poems, but find beauty throughout.
Olivia
There are many poems in here I have yet to mine, but this collection has kept me company on many cold nights when all I want to do is curl up with some words, some wine, and my own thoughts. Tough to beat.
Bob Wollenberg
Sometimes clear as a bell. Sometimes I'm lost. But lots of it really sends my mind off in new directions. Wonderful! It's worth it to read his Christmas poem/play "for the time being."
Lindsey
I thought I liked Auden; apparently I only like the few poems editors always anthologize. His later poems are better though.
Christy B
How I have a degree in Literature and barely read Auden til this past Winter is beyond me. Amazing, amazing, amazing.
Bryana Johnson
Well, in all honesty, I didn’t actually read the complete poems. However, I got well over half-way through this one before deciding I needed to take a really long break from Auden – as in, I’m done with this book. Auden’s writing includes many really strong pieces and I expect that several verses from here will stick with me for the rest of my life. However, my ultimate conclusion was that the man would be regarded far more highly today if he had burned up about half of what he wrote before it e...more
Brian
Hmmm. I checked this book out because I'd read a couple of Auden's more anthologized poems, "The Unknown Citizen" and "The More Loving One," and enjoyed them very much. Well, it turns out they're not typical. Auden reminds me of Eliot in some ways -- fond of allusion and over-figurative language that confuses rather than illuminating, or at least says "this poem is not for you." Even at his worst, however, Eliot is pithy. "The Waste Land" is incomprehensible, but you can extract a few dozen abso...more
Joel
Feb 28, 2008 Joel rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Joel by: Eugene Peterson
This is a huge book of poetry(around 1000 pages) and all I read was "For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio." It is a long poem, a word-meditation on the incarnation of Christ the Lord. Auden does a masterful job of contextualizing it for us, dressing Joseph and Mary, even Caesar and Simeon, in our cultural clothing, and in doing so, helps us place ourselves into the Gospel story. There are times where I felt a bit removed from Auden's cultural setting (heavy modernism), but overall, there are...more
R.J. Lynch
The three poets writing in English in the 20th century who mean most to me are Eliot, Auden and Larkin. These are the poems I return to again and again; theirs are the lines that pop into my head most often. My life would be a poorer thing without them.
Mugren Ohaly
Some of his stuff might be dry. But, it's brilliant when he's on point. I'd recommend reading a collection of his short poems rather than this.
Kelby Cotton
I find Auden to be a mixed bag, full of wonder and yet also mundane and pedantic. He often puts words together for the sake of sound, but not meaning. And yet, and yet, it will all come together at times and his work will simply blow my socks off. I will come back to him again and again.
Krishan
Great. What can I say ? Nothing, except that this is greatest English language poet of the 20th century.
Don't forget to also get W H Auden 'Selected Poems', for that contains many poems not included here, b/c Auden removed them from his own canon.
aya
my first foray into auden- "dichtung und wahrheit (an unwritten poem)" is possibly the most romantic thing i have ever read, because it does not pretend at perfection. there is a lot left for me to read in here, and am enjoying how long i will be able to take my time with him and possibly never be done.
Nikki
I haven't actually read all, or even most, of the poems in here, but this is the kind of thing I'll pick up every now and again over a period of years, before I get to read all of it. I like all of Auden's poetry that I've read so far -- particularly "Funeral Blues", aka "Stop all the clocks".
Nick
"Piso's a Christian/he worships a fish/there'd be no kissing/if he had his wish...absolutely elsewhere vast/herds of reindeer move across/miles and miles of golden moss/silently and very fast". Undoubtedly the best poet of the last century.
Tarragon Smith
This book has a lot of pages but they are not a necessary reading, I'm still breathing at least. I suppose I shall never finish reading it.
I've been leafing the pages. Preparing to see the new Bennett play, if I can get day tickets.
Meter
As with every time I pick up Auden, I'm quickly turned off. Its understood that he's quite smart. But enough of his poems seem full of crap to not make me interested in him as a poet. Too sentimental, too frightened, too much fat.
Leslie
A favorite
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Wystan Hugh Auden who signed his works W. H. Auden, was an Anglo-American poet, born in England, later an American citizen, regarded by many as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. His work is noted for its stylistic and technical achievements, its engagement with moral and political issues, and its variety of tone, form and content. The central themes of his poetry are love, politics...more
More about W.H. Auden...
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“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.”
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“Evil is unspectacular and always human,
And shares our bed and eats at our own table ....”
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