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Selected Poems

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  6,512 ratings  ·  111 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
Unknown Binding
Published July 1st 1979 by Not Avail (first published 1958)
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Feb 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 11, 2013 marked it as browsing  ·  review of another edition
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.

Jul 11, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, poetry
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.
David M
Apr 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I trust few will dispute Auden's genius, what friend Cody might call his prodigious bulge of greatness. A bit like Eliot and a bit like Yeats, not much like Rilke or Stevens. Unafraid of occasional verse or opinion poems. I am perhaps a bit too incorrigibly romantic-modernist in my taste to follow him everywhere - a poem like 'On the Circuit,' for example is hardly my cup of tea. Nonetheless there's plenty here with which I do feel a deep sympathy, and doubtless more will continue to open up in ...more
Jul 30, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jerome K
Aug 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Control of the passes was, he saw, the key
To this new district, but who would get it?
He, the trained spy, had walked into the trap
For a bogus guide, seduced with the old tricks.

At Greenhearth was a fine site for a dam
And easy powder, had they pushed the rail
Some stations nearer. They ignore his wires.
The bridges were unbuilt and trouble coming.

The street music seemed gracious now to one
For weeks up in the desert. Woken by water
Running away in the dark, he often had
Reproached the night for a comp
Patrick Gibson
Jul 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
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,
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
The best of one of the best. Long, thoughtful. It's been a while since I've had to read such heady poems. Auden likes to write poems for people too, which is quite nice. I felt like I had to turn on a different part of my brain to read his work. It was a healthy exercise.
Lexi (Pink Jellyfish)
i really loved it....he has some poems that move you to tears...
my favourite is Funeral Blues
Oct 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A dear friend of mine once recommended I buy a copy of the Oxford Book of English Verse. “It’s a great way to get you back into poetry,” she said.

One morning she rolled over in my bed and hit her elbow against my new copy wedged between the mattress and the wall for easy access. She laughed and with a singularity of purpose flipped it open to Auden’s “The Fall of Rome“.

“Read this one,” she said. “You’ll like it.”

I may have been remiss with working my way through the Oxford over the years – but I
Sep 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, poetry
No sé cómo reseñar un libro de poesía. No tengo la menor idea. No sé cuándo un poeta es bueno, cuándo la calidad es superior, no sé nada, sólo puedo juzgarles por lo que me han transmitido. Para mí una persona que es capaz de escribir poesía es un Dios, me parece algo maravilloso, digno de otro mundo y disfruto más que nada leyéndola.
En Auden he encontrado a un autor diferente a los que he leído por el momento. He disfrutado con sus referencias a la mitología griega, con esas pequeñas pullas, es
Mar 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed finally sitting down with Auden -- though I definitely need to read him and Joseph Brodsky side-by-side, and I'd like to read more about his queerness and how it might have influenced his work. I feel like I've barely scratched the surface. But I'm keen for more!
Oct 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reflections
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
Dan Douglas
Oct 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We once had a company-wide email survey which asked 'What is your favorite genre of book?' The categories were 1) Mystery, 2) Romance, 3) Science Fiction, 4) Non-fiction, 5) Poetry, 6) Horror, 7) Realistic Fiction, and 8) Fantasy. A few thousand responded. Not even 15 picked Poetry.

That wasn't that surprising but it was a little surprising. I thought about why people don't read poetry. We listen to song lyrics constantly. Poetry isn't that different.

I think it's because poetry's pure form isn'
Michael Arnold
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I will never stop reading Auden for the first time, I can't help but feel.
Martin Bihl
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
Lydia St Giles
Mar 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-tens, poetry
Picking my Top Ten books of poetry poses a question. With books on gardening, it was not difficult to put the books in order of importance. But how should I list the poets? In date order, medieval verse first? If ten centuries were represented, that might suit. Since my choices are mainly modern, I’ve opted for alphabetical order.
W H Auden tops the list with his Selected Poems. This is a substantial volume, with one hundred poems listed. If I were destined for that Desert Island, this would be o
Bob Hartley
May 31, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
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
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
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
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
Dean Tsang
Sep 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Many of the pieces in this collection were something of a surprise - almost always a pleasant surprise, it's worth clarifying. Auden used traditional forms far more often than I had anticipated, as well as rhyme. My favorite in the collection was probably the villanelle "Miranda". Of course, the primary piece to stand out, even if you're only flipping through the volume, is the gigantic prose poem "Caliban to the Audience," but it was, to me, the biggest (perhaps only) disappointment of the coll ...more
May 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm sitting on the campgrounds right now, waiting for Sarah to come back with lunch. More and more I feel as if I am using Goodreads as my own personal sort of journal, a "what was I doing when I read this book" type of site. Which is excellent for me, but not very helpful as a review. So.

Auden is good, very good. I appreciate his sense of humor, his deep cynicism, and even his moments of optimism. Very rarely do I find myself enjoying a whole poem on its own, however. Usually I find myself sele
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I frequently find Auden's poetry awe-inspiring. The poems here are an amazing collection in depth and breadth. I'm sure I will come back to this collection again and gain. I gave the volume 4/5 because I would have enjoyed more indexing, better layout and more treatment. A great bargain at the price, but if I'd realized how much I appreciate Auden's work, I'd have gone looking for more refined (and expensive) publications of his work. I'll likely use this as a working copy for notes, dog ears, a ...more
Sep 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Auden is my constant companion. For me, his poetry reads at once romantic and mellow, level-headed.

I appreciate the formal rhyme and meter. Here's a nice example (from "The Fall of Rome")...

"Altogether elsewhere, vast
Herds of reindeer move across
Miles and miles of golden moss,
Silently and very fast."

The rhythm feels good, comforting, creates movement, and makes the poems easier to commit to memory (and keep me company).

Personal favorites include "Out on the lawn I lie in bed," "The More Loving
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  • Collected Poems
  • The Collected Poems
  • Selected Poems
  • The Collected Poems
  • Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
  • Selected Poems
  • Poems New and Collected
  • The Complete Poems
  • Adrienne Rich's Poetry and Prose
  • Trilogy: The Walls Do Not Fall / Tribute to the Angels / The Flowering of the Rod
  • Complete Poems
  • Poems and Prose
  • Poetry, Drama and Prose
  • Selected Poems
  • Selected Poems of Ezra Pound
  • The Dream Songs
  • Chicago Poems
  • Collected Poems
Wystan Hugh Auden was an Anglo-American poet, best known for love poems such as Funeral Blues, poems on political and social themes such as September 1, 1939 and The Shield of Achilles, poems on cultural and psychological themes such as The Age of Anxiety, and poems on religious themes such as For the Time Being and Horae Canonicae. He was born in York, grew up in and near Birmingham in a professi ...more
“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…