portrait of W. H. Auden
Portrait by Carl Van Vechten (1939)

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Quotes of the Day for 21 February 2004 – W. H. Auden

Wystan Hugh Auden was born at York, England on this day in 1907. He entered Christ Church College, Oxford in 1925 to study physical science, but soon changed direction and became a poet. After graduation he spent a year in Berlin with the novelist Christopher Isherwood whose stories of their year together became the Broadway production Cabaret. He served in the Spanish Civil War as an ambulance driver, and later married the daughter of Thomas Mann so she could get a British passport and escape Germany before war started. He moved to New York in 1939 and became a US citizen in 1946. I'm not much of a judge of poetry, but he was regarded as one of the most important poets of the last century, winning a Pulitzer and a host of other prizes. His prose quotes reveal his keen observations and wit.

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You will find an expanded profile, photo, additional biographical links, and all quotes from this author on the author's Notable Quotable page.


The quotes:

Political history is far too criminal and pathological to be a fit subject of study for the young. Children should acquire their heroes and villains from fiction.

All sin tends to be addictive, and the terminal point of addiction is what is called damnation.

As a rule it was the pleasure haters that became unjust.

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

The class distinctions proper to a democratic society are not those of rank or money, still less, as is apt to happen when these are abandoned, of race, but of age.

We are here on earth to do good for others. What the others are here for, I don't know.
     - All from Wystan Hugh Auden, 1907 - 1973


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