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Thursday, Sep 19, 2002

auden clear

"Auden squared his circles the only way New Yorkers can, which is by living in squares and talking in circles. Few writers have ever managed to inhabit so many levels of life. Being everywhere at once while going nowhere in particular is what poets do, and Auden did it. Where journalists write about what people are arguing about in public, and novelists about what they are talking about in private, only poets seem able to show that what people argue about in public is identical to what they talk about in private, that what we are arguing about is the sum of our own guilts, fears, anxieties, hopes. And only a handful of poets show that what people are talking about in public and what they are talking about in private is always a variant of what they say to themselves when they are alone, and that, Auden knew, is simply "I wish I were not.""