Quotes Categories

W. H. Auden Quotes

(1907-1973), Anglo-American Poet

To pray is to pay attention to something or someone other than oneself. Whenever a man so concentrates his attention -- on a landscape, a poem, a geometrical problem, an idol, or the True God -- that he completely forgets his own ego and desires, he is praying. The primary task of the schoolteacher is to teach children, in a secular context, the technique of prayer.

Category: Prayer

You must go to bed with friends or whores, where money makes up the difference in beauty or desire.

Category: Relationships

When I am in the company of scientists, I feel like a shabby curate who has strayed by mistake into a drawing room full of dukes.

Category: Science And Scientists

You know there are no secrets in America. It's quite different in England, where people think of a secret as a shared relation between two people.

Category: Secrets

It is... axiomatic that we should all think of ourselves as being more sensitive than other people because, when we are insensitive in our dealings with others, we cannot be aware of it at the time: conscious insensitivity is a self-contradiction.

Category: Sensitivity

We are here on earth to do good to others. What the others are here for, I don't know.

Category: Service

You have to see the sex act comically, as a child.

Category: Sex

All sins tend to be addictive, and the terminal point of addiction is damnation.

Category: Sin

Slavery is so intolerable a condition that the slave can hardly escape deluding himself into thinking that he is choosing to obey his master's commands when, in fact, he is obliged to. Most slaves of habit suffer from this delusion and so do some writers, enslaved by an all too "personal" style.

Category: Slavery

A man has his distinctive personal scent which his wife, his children and his dog can recognize. A crowd has a generalized stink. The public is odorless.

Category: Smells

Precisely because we do not communicate by singing, a song can be out of place but not out of character; it is just as credible that a stupid person should sing beautifully as that a clever person should do so.

Category: Song And Singing

It takes little talent to see clearly what lies under one's nose, a good deal of it to know in which direction to point that organ.

Category: Talent

A professor is one who talks in someone else's sleep.

Category: Teachers And Teaching

Drama is based on the Mistake. I think someone is my friend when he really is my enemy, that I am free to marry a woman when in fact she is my mother, that this person is a chambermaid when it is a young nobleman in disguise, that this well-dressed young man is rich when he is really a penniless adventurer, or that if I do this such and such a result will follow when in fact it results in something very different. All good drama has two movements, first the making of the mistake, then the discovery that it was a mistake.

Category: Theater

Dogmatic theological statements are neither logical propositions nor poetic utterances. They are ''shaggy dog'' stories; they have a point, but he who tries too hard to get it will miss it.

Category: Theology