W B Yeats, W H Auden, memorial, poetry

Poetry lives on

W H Auden reads his poem about the death of W B Yeats (anniversary today) – not only the passing of the man, but the way poetry lives on in the world after the death of its writer.

Interesting to bear in mind that we are listening to the spoken words of a poet who has been dead for over 40 years (died September 1973). Powerful to hear them read by the writer.

This poem is in fact one of 3 parts.  In the 2nd, he memorably sums up W B Yeats as “Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry” and in the 3rd it winds up the set by a simple four line verse:

“In the deserts of the heart

Let the healing fountain start

In the prison of his days

Teach the free man how to praise.”

The full poem is found in Auden’s writings 1939-1947.


W H Auden – in an age of Anxiety

This particular BBC documentary by Adam Low on W H Auden shows how well his poetry is written, how current and up-to-date it sounds.  His “Funeral Blues”  (“Stop all the clocks….”) became the go-to poem for funerals after it featured in the film “Four Weddings and a Funeral”.  And after the calamitous World Trade Centre bombing of 11 Sept – THE public poem which the New York Times and others turned to, to sum up the times was Auden’s poem “September 1st, 1939”, just before England announced its entry into world war 2.