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As I Walked Out One Evening

W.H. Auden

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Added by: Jackie Kearns
Intimations of mortality. One of Auden's greatest poems
Added by: Amanda
A lovely and sweet poem, one that discusses the conflict between time and love
Added by: Edward Folger
Try to find the magnificent reading of this poem (recorded in the 1950's I think) by Dylan Thomas.
Added by: Andrew Solomon
'A lovely and sweet poem' it is not. It is a fabulous poem, one that resonates long - certainly a great poem, in poetic terms. But in wider terms, it is a viciously nihilistic assertion of the triumph of death over life and the futility and transience of love. A gay friend very mischievously tried to persuade me to read it at my wedding ('just the first five verses') - yeah, right. This poem later became significant in my decision to commit my life to Christ (aged 45). I had wrestled with it for many years, until I recognised that its power comes from its cynicism, and the undeniable truth that it asserts about the world, and our old friend the human condition. I recognised this - yet I knew, with a certainty and instinct that transcended clever logic, that the poem masks a greater truth - that there is salvation from the cruel and merciless sentence of death over love and life that it protrays. The mercy that saves is God's love for the whole of His creation, and Christ's redeeming sacrifice in the name of love. The hopelessness Auden portrays is the hopelesness of atheism. I defy you to deny its solipsistic vacuity, its half truth. There is another way!
Added by: Rachel
I agree that it's not a 'lovely and sweet poem', but it certainly has nothing to do with Christianity either. Auden wrote this poem in 1937, two years before his re-conversion to Christianity after he moved to the United States in 1939. He may have some religious symbolism in there, but the poem focuses mainly on making the public aware of society's need for progressive involvement (bordering on revloution), not on trying to convert everyone to Christianity.
Added by: Malcolm
Its both a delightful and disturbing poem, my father gave me an anthology with this poem in it in about a decade ago, its the first time I have read it since, quite moving.
Why great poetry is great
Added by: Steven Rhodes
This poem made me a dedicated Auden fan in one reading. It is relentless - once you start reading it, it is virtually impossible to stop unitl the end - it is highly memorable, always a good sign, and it is rich with unforgettable images. But chiefly, it proves to me that Auden was a great poet, THE poet of 20th Century, because he excels at those things which only poets can do.

The stanza ' "O stand, stand at the window, as the tears scald and start; you shall love your crooked neighbour with you crooked heart".' is a moral statement for 20th century as profound as any written by any moral philosopher; indeed profounder because it is poetic. It says more in these few lines than any grand thesis could and its portability means it can actually be used to live by. Only poets can do this and Auden did it as well as anyone else.

Likewise, David, as with most great poetry it cannot be bound to oneself or to another creed. Everyone will be able to find some justification for their view within it, or a ground for rejecting it. But all of us here are compelled by it and that's why he was the genius he was.
Added by: ammad
My naieve poetic sense conceives of the poem as a resonance of the triump of time, pretty much over everything else; love, compassion, guilt ... And yes I agree with most that its a very nihilistic and dark poem.

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