April 15, 2009

A verbal earthly paradise

Just ran into this in reading an old essay by the poet, Mark Doty, my poet of the day. (Like I mentioned earlier, I am putting up a few tweets every day on Twitter about a chosen poet for each day this month to celebrate National Poetry Month.)
"We want a poem to be beautiful, that is to say, a verbal earthly paradise, a timeless world of pure play, which gives us delight precisely because of its contrast to our historical existence with all its insoluble problems and inescapable suffering; at the same time we want a poem to be true…and a poet cannot bring us any truth without introducing into his poetry the problematic, the painful, the disorderly, the ugly."- Auden
That's from Auden's book of prose, The Dyer's Hand. You can read a 1963 review of the book by poet, John Berryman. (Thanks to the New York Review of Books for putting up these old issues online. We would never be able to read these old gems otherwise!)

You can find a good collection of quotes from Auden's poetry via Wikiquotes.

Also, it seems, Auden was a big fan of Tolkien and his Lord of the Ring books! See his NYT Reviews of the first and third books. (Donald Barr wrote the review for the second book.)

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