Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"September 1, 1939," by W.H. Auden

On the precipice of another September 1, I thought of W.H. Auden's famous poem--one he later disavowed, in a way, by choosing not to include it in collections over which he had editorial control. His argument was that the line "we must love each other or die" was illogical insofar as we will die whether we love each other or not, but of course, few if any readers read the line that literally, and I doubt if Auden meant it that way. He was also a notorious reviser of poems after they had been published (as was Wordsworth): the sort of thing that causes arguments amongst scholars and critics.

One of the best recorded readings of the poem is by "Tom O'Bedlam" on Youtube. It really is terrific:

September 1, 1939
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