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Category: W. H. Auden

Drones for what?

“I think foreign policy should definitely be taken out of men’s hands. Men should continue making machines, but women ought to decide which machines ought to be made. Women have far better sense. They would never have introduced the internal combustion engine or any of the evil machines. Most kitchen machines, for example, are good; they don’t obliterate other skills. Or other people.” – W. H. Auden (interviewed by Michael Newman in The Paris Review)

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Nuts and bolts

“Poetry is not self-expression. Each of us, of course, has a unique perspective which we hope to communicate. We hope that someone reading it will say, ‘Of course, I knew that all the time but never realized it before.’ On the whole I agree here with Chesterton, who said, ‘The artistic temperament is a disease that affects amateurs.’ ” – W. H. Auden (interviewed by Michael Newman in The Paris Review)

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Watch the parking meters

“Writers seldom make good leaders. . . . It’s very easy for a writer to be unrealistic. . . . in cases of social or political injustice, only two things are effective: political action and straight journalistic reportage of the facts. The arts can do nothing. The social and political history of Europe would be what it has been if Dante, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Mozart, et al., had never lived. A poet, qua poet, has only one political duty, namely, in his own writing to set an example of the correct use of his mother tongue which is always being corrupted. When words lose their meaning, physical force takes over.” – W. H. Auden (interviewed by Michael Newman in The Paris Review)

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Form and substance

“If I had to ‘teach poetry,’ which, thank God, I don’t, I would concentrate on prosody, rhetoric, philology, and learning poems by heart. I may be quite wrong, but I don’t see what can be learned except purely technical things—what a sonnet is, something about prosody. If you did have a poetic academy, the subjects should be quite different—natural history, history, theology, all kinds of other things.” – W. H. Auden (interviewed by Michael Newman in The Paris Review)

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