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 :: 1907-1973, Anglo-American Poet

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''God is Love,'' we are taught as children to believe. But when we first begin to get some inkling of how He loves us, we are repelled; it seems so cold, indeed, not love at all as we understand the word.
~ W. H. Auden - [God]

 

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''Healing,'' Papa would tell me, ''is not a science, but the intuitive art of wooing nature.''
~ W. H. Auden - [Convalescence]

 

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A daydream is a meal at which images are eaten. Some of us are gourmets, some gourmands, and a good many take their images precooked out of a can and swallow them down whole, absent-mindedly and with little relish.
~ W. H. Auden - [Dreams]

 

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A doctor, like anyone else who has to deal with human beings, each of them unique, cannot be a scientist; he is either, like the surgeon, a craftsman, or, like the physician and the psychologist, an artist. This means that in order to be a good doctor a man must also have a good character, that is to say, whatever weaknesses and foibles he may have, he must love his fellow human beings in the concrete and desire their good before his own.
~ W. H. Auden - [Doctors]

 

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A false enchantment can all too easily last a lifetime.
~ W. H. Auden - [Love]

 

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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.
~ W. H. Auden - [Smells]

 

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A professor is one who talks in someone else's sleep.
~ W. H. Auden - [Teachers and Teaching]

 

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A real book is not one that we read, but one that reads us.
~ W. H. Auden - [Books and Reading]

 

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A tremendous number of people in America work very hard at something that bores them. Even a rich man thinks he has to go down to the office everyday. Not because he likes it but because he can't think of anything else to do.
~ W. H. Auden - [Work]

 

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A verbal art like poetry is reflective; it stops to think. Music is immediate, it goes on to become.
~ W. H. Auden - [Music]

 

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All sins tend to be addictive, and the terminal point of addiction is damnation.
~ W. H. Auden - [Sin]

 

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All works of art are commissioned in the sense that no artist can create one by a simple act of will but must wait until what he believes to be a good idea for a work ''comes'' to him.
~ W. H. Auden - [Creativity]

 

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America has always been a country of amateurs where the professional, that is to say, the man who claims authority as a member of an Tlite which knows the law in some field or other, is an object of distrust and resentment.
~ W. H. Auden - [Experts]

 

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Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.
~ W. H. Auden - [Humor]

 

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Anyone who has a child today should train him to be either a physicist or a ballet dancer. Then he'll escape.
~ W. H. Auden - [Upbringing]

 

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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.
~ W. H. Auden - [Poetry and Poets]

 

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Between friends differences in taste or opinion are irritating in direct proportion to their triviality.
~ W. H. Auden - [Friends and Friendship]

 

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Criticism should be a casual conversation.
~ W. H. Auden - [Critics and Criticism]

 

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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.
~ W. H. Auden - [Theology]

 

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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.
~ W. H. Auden - [Theater]

 

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