"Auden in New York"
On Thursday evening, October 23, 2008., at 7 PM at
THE PHILOCTETES CENTER FOR THE MULTIDISCIPLINARY STUDY OF IMAGINATION
at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute
(EDWARD NERSESSIAN AND FRANCIS LEVY, DIRECTORS)
The Philoctetes Center
247 East 82nd Street
(Phone: 646-422-0544; email: email@example.com)
Our Life in Poetry: Auden in New York
Participants: Michael Braziller & David Lehman
Thursday, October 23, 2008 / 7 pm
We will read and talk about poems that W. H. Auden wrote in the decade after his arrival in
"September 1, 1939" and "In Memory of William Butler Yeats" command our special interest not only for their literary excellence and fame but because of their publishing history (and because "September 1, 1939"has struck many readers as eerily apropos to the atrocious events of a more recent September). Auden grew unhappy with both poems for reasons that are worth investigating, and he revised them radically. Did he improve or harm them? We will talk about his revisions, the ethical as well as literary implications of Auden's decisions, and about the lines in the poems that have generated the greatest amount of heat: "Poetry makes nothing happen." "We must love me another or die." The poems are challenging and will reward a close examination.
You may best prepare for the evening by reading these and other Auden poems, such as "Under Which Lyre," "In Praise of Limestone," "The More Loving One," and the villanelle beginning "Time will say nothing but I told you so." (Auden gave various titles to this villanelle.) Ambitious participants may want to prepare by also reading "Caliban to the Audience," a long eloquent prose poem Auden wrote during this period.