Friday, November 4, 2011

The Novelist (W.H. Auden, December 1938)

Encased in talent like a uniform,
The rank of every poet is well known;
They can amaze us like a thunderstorm,
Or die so young, or live for years alone.

They can dash forward like hussars;  but he
Must struggle out of his boyish gift and learn
How to be plain and awkward, how to be
One after whom none think it worth to turn.

For, to achieve its lightest wish, he must
Become the whole of boredom, subject to
Vulgar complaints like love, among the Just

Be just, among the Filthy filthy too,
And in his own weak person, if he can,
Must suffer dully all the wrongs of man.


  1. Beautiful post again! What a strange story, The Dream of the Red Chamber. You are bringing back memories of that other world . . .

  2. Thanks for reading, looking at and liking this. The poem and pictures seemed to click for me and I'm glad you enjoyed them. I read the poem the other night when it was used in the introduction to a biography of the English novelist Patrick Hamilton written by Sean French. I had wanted to own (no other way to read it) this book for a while and it was previously only available for ruinous prices. I finally found a reasonably priced copy and when it arrived, I read the poem and French's introduction, which is unusualy good. I love Hamilton's work and it's impossible not to be fascinated by his intense, almost ungovernable, sad life. It's a beautiful day in Southeastern PA. Curtis

  3. can u give me a summary or the meaning of it .