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May 19, 2006

Auden Believed...Kinda

This from his poem, As I Walked Out One Evening:AUDEN.jpg

"O look, look in the mirror,
O look in your distress;
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless."

Is this sort-of belief or sort-of disbelief?

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at May 19, 2006 12:50 AM


One of the very few useful functions of religion is that it provides a library of widely understood symbols and tropes which can be applied by those outside the church to ironic purpose. That is, I think, what Auden is doing here.

There is ample evidence throughout his work that he would have liked to believe the comforting lies of the church, and would have, perhaps, if they had not been so patently absurd. In the end, his receptive awareness of absurdity trumped his wistful awareness of divine promise.

Posted by: Richard Blumberg at May 19, 2006 9:59 AM

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