W. H. Auden
Quotations


Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered.

The countenances of children, like those of animals, are masks, not faces, for they have not yet developed a significant profile of their own.

Literary confessors are contemptible, like beggars who exhibit their sores for money, but not so contemptible as the public that buys their books.

Criticism should be a casual conversation.

The critical opinions of a writer should always be taken with a large grain of salt. For the most part, they are manifestations of his debate with himself as to what he should do next and what he should avoid.

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.

Fame often makes a writer vain, but seldom makes him proud.

We must love one another or die.

Between friends differences in taste or opinion are irritating in direct proportion to their triviality.

History is, strictly speaking, the study of questions; the study of answers belongs to anthropology and sociology.

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.

A verbal art like poetry is reflective; it stops to think. Music is immediate, it goes on to become.

Proper names are poetry in the raw. Like all poetry they are untranslatable.

Narcissus does not fall in love with his reflection because it is beautiful, but because it is his. If it were his beauty that enthralled him, he would be set free in a few years by its fading.

Perhaps there is only one cardinal sin: impatience. Because of impatience we were driven out of Paradise, because of impatience we cannot return.

Some writers confuse authenticity, which they ought always to aim at, with originality, which they should never bother about.



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