Selected Poems
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Selected Poems

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  4,193 ratings  ·  61 reviews
This significantly expanded edition of W. H. Auden’s Selected Poems adds twenty poems to the hundred in the original edition, broadening its focus to better reflect the enormous wealth of form, rhetoric, tone, and content in Auden’s work. Newly included are such favorites as “Funeral Blues” and other works that represent Auden’s lighter, comic side, giving a fuller picture...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 12th 1979 by Vintage (first published 1958)
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The Complete Poems by Emily DickinsonLeaves of Grass by Walt WhitmanThe Waste Land and Other Poems by T.S. EliotShakespeare's Sonnets by William ShakespeareAriel by Sylvia Plath
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May 05, 2013 AC marked it as browsing
Shelves: poetry
This is something really new for me. I only began reading literature again, after a multi-decades long hiatus, 2 yrs ago. Poetry in particular has always been inaccessible to me – I mean, I read a lot of Greek and Latin poetry, of course – but somehow that’s different – but I’ve *never* been able to read poetry in my own language, and have never understand any modern poetry at all. So that I’ve now come to the point of reading Auden is a mark of the progress I’ve made – difficult as it’s been.

I would love to say that I chose this book because I saw it in some library and thanks to my keen eye and awesome brain, I decided to read it because I had this weird hunch that it was going to be amazing. Unfortunately, the reason why I chose it is far less poetic. I think a lot of us got to know this poet because of that movie. From the first time I watched it, I couldn't get a particular poem out of my head. It was recited by a man at his partner's funeral. Such a beautiful and intense poem....more
I bought this book just for the inscription:

For Heather...
Because poetry can heal the soul.
With love,
(Dec. 2001)

I've spent many an hour wondering about Jason and Heather, whether poetry did in fact heal her soul, and why a gift given with love ended up on the discount clearance rack at Hastings.

I'm not so hot on Auden's brand of rhyming poetry. It just doesn't speak to me. Neruda, Whitman, Wordsworth -- these are the poets of my soul.
Lovely stuff. One of my favorites is a poem he wrote for Sigmund Freud after his death - it's long, so here's a bit of it:

"In Memory of Sigmund Freud

When there are so many we shall have to mourn,
when grief has been made so public, and exposed
to the critique of a whole epoch
the frailty of our conscience and anguish,

of whom shall we speak? For every day they die
among us, those who were doing us some good,
who knew it was never enough but
hoped to improve a little by living.


but he would have us re...more
Patrick Gibson
I have had a hard bound copy of this volume for many years. I contains fragments and restorations of many unknown or unpublished poems. There are moments here where your hear soars.

The life of man is never quite completed;
The daring and the chatter will go on:
But, as an artist feels his power gone,
These walk the earth and know themselves defeated.

Some could not bear nor break the young and mourn for
The wounded myths that once made nations good,
Some lost a world they never understood,
Jul 30, 2007 Mark rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
He is in my pantheon. A brilliant poet who nevertheless is accessible and understandable. And to have written one poem in your life as good as "In Memory of W.B. Yeats" would be enough to ensure access to heaven. It ends with this wonderful appeal to all poets:

Follow, poet, follow right
To the bottom of the night,
With your unconstraining voice
Still persuade us to rejoice;

With the farming of a verse
Make a vineyard of the curse,
Sing of human unsuccess
In a rapture of distress;

In the deserts...more
Jerome K
I have a much older edition of Auden's Selected Poems, when his Funeral Blues poem was still part of Two Songs for Hedli Anderson. I love Auden. More and more over the years actually. He's not as quotable as Frost. Or as monumental as Yeats and TS Elliot. He's more like a longtime friend who's not always steady on his feet, occassionally overreaching, a bit heartbroken, a bit bitter, a bit sweet, a whole lot of queen (LOL). If I could meet any poet from the past, I'd choose Auden.
Lexi (Pink Jellyfish)
i really loved it....he has some poems that move you to tears...
my favourite is Funeral Blues
You know that old man who lived alone in your neighborhood when you were a kid? The one who pretended to be a bitter, cantankerous grouch but was secretly a huge sweetheart - a friend to kids, dogs, cats, weird bugs, lemonade and summer evenings - and who carried himself in a way that strongly suggested a decades-old, epic personal tragedy? That's Auden.

Poetry has always been a bit of a foreign language to me - something I'm trying to change - and so I'm not sure what makes Auden seem lacking ne...more
Bette BookAddict
Auden is a true genius; such a purity of words, thoughts, emotions. A book I studied at uni and have come back to many times over. Not to be read cover to cover; you must read in short bursts, taste these poems a little at a time.

His poem Funereal was featured in the iconic Four Weddings and a Funereal film of the 1990s and that is where a lot of people first heard this wonderful writer's work. For me, it was a joy to have his work recognised in the public eye.

A book which sits on my best of the...more
Only downside of this selection - it's way too short. It's an introduction at best and makes you want to read more.
reading auden takes such emotional energy for me. he has such a terrific talent, and a completely unique cadence among the modern poets. what hurts is the knowledge that -- too soon -- he left his art. after publishing "September 1, 1939" which drove thousand of spaniards to a grisly grave, auden wrote that his greatest wish was to never again write a single word of consequence. unfortunately for us all, he succeeded.

September 1, 1939

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and...more
Mar 22, 2012 Jenny added it
Shelves: poetry
I don't think this is exactly the edition I read, although mine (the Everyman Pocket Poet edition, which wasn’t listed on Goodreads) is also edited by Edward Mendelson. My favorites from this volume are A Thanksgiving, Archaeology, The History of Truth, The Shield of Achilles, First Things First, The Fall of Rome, In Memory of W.B. Yeats, Funeral Blues, and At Last the Secret is Out.

After reading through this book of poems, I now want to read everything Auden has written—I love how at least hal...more
I must confess that this was only a quick dip into a small selection of Auden's poetry, so I cannot comment on the entire volume of his work. However, what little of this stunning selection I have read dazzled me and I will almost certainly continue to read more of his work.

The poems that I have read here are September 1st 1939, Miss Gee, O What is that Sound and O Where are you going? I have only analysed this small selection, as I currently supporting a student with her AS level work on this...more
I didn't come to Auden with many preconceptions, so I really didn't know what to expect when I began reading this volume of his poems. Sure, sure, i'd heard "funeral blues", and i had some vague understanding of him as leaning towards the left in the thirties. But his style? His way of writing? Not much.

In his introduction, Mendelson says that Auden was the first poet at home in the twentieth century, and I didn't really understand what this meant until i got to the famous poem "September 1, 193...more
Bob Hartley
I thought I'd like Auden because some of his quotes are fandabbydosey, but it seems like his best aphorisms were saved for interviews or something because I find it hard to see what merits him as an author widely studied (which is an assumption; my copy's full of ingenuous handwriting relating someone's teacher's wild misinterpretations (we all know that "blue curtain" analogy)). I might just be of the wrong demographic to enjoy Auden, but I'm put off by his attraction to meandering rhyme scheme...more
May 31, 2008 Baiocco rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like short poems, people who like the poem just transcribed
Shelves: poetry
These weren't great, but they were better than most because they were short. I don't understand what it means to be political anymore, and if it's anything like what I think its means, i don't want any part of it. And what a political poet is I have no clue, but Auden usually gets that rap when he isn't being dismissed as being just another lyrical Romanticist gay poet. But what gay poet isn't Romantic? Anyway, here is far and away my favorite poem in this collection and definitely the only one...more
A comprehensive collection & a great introduction to the poetry of W.H. Auden. I read this book after seeing it listed on a recommended reading list from my English A Level teacher but it was a real surprise & a real gem. Auden takes the traditional forms of poetry & makes them his own which makes his work really accessible, especially because he tends to take a realistic look at life's great events while still maintaining some Romance & drama. There were so many lines which I un...more
So much to say about Auden.
It's a pleasure to read a poet who's range of style and subject nearly the entire galaxy of poetry, from little haikus and ironic stand-alone couplets, to lengthy meditations on religion and literature and history, to wonderful little pastoral poems. His breathed new life into old forms at a time when modernist poets were abandoning older teachings. They sound great when read aloud or to oneself.

Don't forget to get this in addition to his W H Auden Collected Poems, for...more
I'm re-reading Auden's poems out of this volume.

"What does the song hope for? And the moved hands/A little way from the birds, the shy, the delightful?"

Auden's verse is magnificent; he writes his villanelles and sonnets without a trace of the "unctious urbanity" that those forms are seen, by many readers today, to represent. He knows what he's doing, yet doesn't wantonly careen into that indecipherable "academic" enclave of poetry that finds such disdain for simple language and traditional for...more
Dean Tsang
The selection of poems provided some interesting insight into Auden's writing style- I found Epilogue, In Memory of W.B Yeats, Aubade and Address to the Beasts to be my favourites among his poems, although the lack of such poems as September 1, 1939 was slightly disappointing. It didn't stop this from being an excellent collection, and the introduction does justice in telling us of Auden and the undeniable impact he had on Literature.

Recommended? Of course, Auden's a classic, and while not all...more
A broad canvas of poems spanning the author's entire life. Some of the earliest poems are enigmatic to the point of frustration, some of the later poems are silly and grin-inducing, there are wonderful images and lines and pieces scattered throughout, but the main reason to read this book--and the only reason I've given it 5 stars--is "Caliban's Address to the Audience" in THE SEA AND THE MIRROR. In that stunning prose poem, Shakespeare, speaking through Caliban, addresses the would-be writers a...more
I could not get "into" most of his poems. Well, maybe I could have if I had tried harder. An interesting observation maybe half way through was I could often see "crossword puzzle clues" in what he wrote: a phrase he might use to describe something, instead of the name of the thing itself. I have no doubt that what he wrote was very correct -- if I had taken as much time to read the poem as he must have taken to write it, I would understand it. I actually think someone who likes to solve puzzles...more
"...Were all the 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."
Those are the end lines of a poem from the '50s.
The More Living One
Yet most of his work has man, morality or love as the theme.
So his earlier poems are very different from, say, the one above.

A journalist at heart who tackled the present with lots of angst to describe ,more maybe for himself alone, modern ideals not working to well in his per...more
W. H. Auden is one of the best poets who wrote in English in the 20th century. This edition is a superb introduction to his work, for it contains selected poems from throughout his career (with useful notes by editor Edward Mendelson), including "Funeral Blues" ("Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone . . .") and a number of poems (chief among them, "September 1, 1939") he had excluded for various reasons from his own canon. An essential book in the library of any person who loves poetry.
Hands down, my all-time favorite poet. Powerful, memorable, and technically one of the most skilled poets of the past 100 years. One of the only significant poets of the 20th century whose goal was *not* to make us think about *his* experiences as a lens to revisit our own. What I like most about Auden is how he invites us to think about our lives without acting as a guide. Also, he was one of the last truly great poet/critics. Start with: The Shield of Achilles, Musee Des Beaux Arts.
I am sad to say I did not much connect with Auden's poetry. Most of the time I felt I was just reading words strung meaninglessly together ... I'm sure there was a meaning I just could neither see nor feel it.
There were a few poems I liked but there were none that made me think: "Yes, yes! Oh, yes!!!" (Which is often the reaction my favourite poets get out of me. Hehe.)
His extensive vocabulary was impressive, though. I found many new words to add to my list!
I was unfamiliar with Auden before my husband's old copy fell into my lap while I was cleaning one day. These are beautiful poems, full of images far away and near. He's one of those brilliant poets whose many layers allow for a variety of readers at different skill levels to enjoy his words. If you're looking for beautiful poetry as an entrance into the world or a seasoned poetry lover, this is a wonderful collection to read.
Sherry Chandler
What can I say. Auden is Auden and untouchable.

I like him best "For Friends Only"

Easy at first, the language of friendship
Is, as we soon discover,
very difficult to speak well . . .

Worst in "The Common Life"

. . . the homes I warm to,
though seldom wealthy, always convey a feeling
of bills being promptly settled

with checks that don't bounce.

Though I should allow for irony, I suppose.
Dec 30, 2007 Carl rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
Have read probably about a third of the poems in here. Good stuff, though I don't think I'm as blown away by Auden as others are-- but maybe that's my own lack of sophistication and taste. I like formalist poetry, and appreciate Auden's experimentation with formal meters in a world of free verse, but sometimes it feels a little too blatantly formal for me-- rhymes are nice, but sometimes it gets to be a bit much.
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  • Collected Poems
  • The Collected Poems
  • Selected Poems
  • The Palm at the End of the Mind: Selected Poems and a Play
  • The Complete Poems
  • The Complete Poems, 1927-1979
  • Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
  • Selected Poems
  • The Dream Songs: Poems
  • The Complete English Poems
  • The Complete Poems
  • The Collected Poems
  • Poems and Prose
  • Collected Poems
  • Selected Poems
  • The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen
  • Poems New and Collected
  • Selected Poems
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...
Collected Poems Auden: Poems Tell Me the Truth about Love The Dyer's Hand As I Walked Out One Evening: Songs, Ballads, Lullabies, Limericks & Other Light Verse

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“The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.”
“Time will say nothing but I told you so,
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.”
More quotes…