MARS HILL AUDIO Conversation 2

The Public Poetry of W. H. Auden

Literary critic Alan Jacobs talks about how W. H. Auden returned to the Church after recognizing that liberal humanism had no answers to the problem of human evil. He also discusses the social themes in Auden's poetry, which avoided utopianism and apocalypticism. 58 minutes.

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    Alan Jacobs: “When he became a Christian in 1940, at the age of 33, . . . one of the key elements of that conversion was a profound sense of humility, and a profound sense of the need for artists to develop the virtue of humility. . . . "
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    “. . . Early in his career his poetry was exceptionally obscure and difficult . . . and that obscurity was something which people found admirable. It was something he found repulsive. . . .”
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    “ . . . He was absolutely vilified [because of his refusal to worship art or politics]. . . . In the 30s, he had written some very powerful and very much-admired political poetry . . .”
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    “ . . . Another of his most famous poems is called ‘The Shield of Achilles’ . . .”
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    “ . . . Any anthology of poetry that they are likely to find is going to have very little by Auden after his conversion, because of the assumption that reigns in intellectual circles today that after Auden became a Christian his poetry suddenly became bad. . . .”
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    “ . . . In 1940, he went to a movie theater in a section of Manhattan called Yorkvillle . . .”