Quotes Categories

W. H. Auden Quotes

(1907-1973), Anglo-American Poet

Murder is unique in that it abolishes the party it injures, so that society has to take the place of the victim and on his behalf demand atonement or grant forgiveness; it is the one crime in which society has a direct interest.

Category: Murder

A verbal art like poetry is reflective; it stops to think. Music is immediate, it goes on to become.

Category: Music

Proper names are poetry in the raw. Like all poetry they are untranslatable.

Category: Names

The only way to spend New Year's Eve is either quietly with friends or in a brothel. Otherwise when the evening ends and people pair off, someone is bound to be left in tears.

Category: New Year

If music in general is an imitation of history, opera in particular is an imitation of human willfulness; it is rooted in the fact that we not only have feelings but insist upon having them at whatever cost to ourselves. The quality common to all the great operatic roles, e.g., Don Giovanni, Norma, Lucia, Tristan, Isolde, Brünnhilde, is that each of them is a passionate and willful state of being. In real life they would all be bores, even Don Giovanni.

Category: Opera

No good opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible.

Category: Opera

Perhaps there is only one cardinal sin: impatience. Because of impatience we were driven out of Paradise, because of impatience we cannot return.

Category: Patience

As a poet there is only one political duty, and that is to defend one's language against corruption. When it is corrupted, people lose faith in what they hear and this leads to violence.

Category: Poetry And Poets

I cannot accept the doctrine that in poetry there is a ''suspension of belief.'' A poet must never make a statement simply because it is sounds poetically exciting; he must also believe it to be true.

Category: Poetry And Poets

It is a sad fact about our culture that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can by practicing it.

Category: Poetry And Poets

Poetry makes nothing happen. It survives in the valley of its saying.

Category: Poetry And Poets

Rhymes, meters, stanza forms, etc., are like servants. If the master is fair enough to win their affection and firm enough to command their respect, the result is an orderly happy household. If he is too tyrannical, they give notice; if he lacks authority, they become slovenly, impertinent, drunk and dishonest.

Category: Poetry And Poets

My deepest feeling about politicians is that they are dangerous lunatics to be avoided when possible and carefully humored; people, above all, to whom one must never tell the truth.

Category: Politicians And Politics

The belief that politics can be scientific must inevitably produce tyrannies. Politics cannot be a science, because in politics theory and practice cannot be separated, and the sciences depend upon their separation. Empirical politics must be kept in bounds by democratic institutions, which leave it up to the subjects of the experiment to say whether it shall be tried, and to stop it if they dislike it, because, in politics, there is a distinction, unknown to science, between Truth and Justice.

Category: Politicians And Politics

There's only one good test of pornography. Get twelve normal men to read the book, and then ask them, ''Did you get an erection?'' If the answer is ''Yes'' from a majority of the twelve, then the book is pornographic.

Category: Pornography