Wednesday, 5 November 2014

WH Auden: GI Bride

I sit in one of the dives on 52nd Street, where WH Auden found refuge in New York. With the old country on the brink of war, Auden sat in a gay bar called Dizzy and wroteSeptember 1, 1939: “Uncertain and afraid/ As the clever hopes expire/ Of a low dishonest decade”.

Auden excised this poem from later collections because he thought it too much of a sermon. He especially hated the famous line “we must love one another or die” which he came to think silly. The desire to stop writing such direct, political poetry was, he said, precisely why he had left England, although in truth Auden stayed in New York for a reason that had nothing to do with his writing. He met Chester Kallman there and fell in love. Auden wasn’t a refugee from an idea. He was, as Alan Bennett brilliantly said, an early GI bride.

Philip Collins, The Times.

Gregory Woods on Auden's 'erotic poem', The Platonic Blow.

"Shall I rim you?" I whispered. 
He shifted his limbs in assent, 
Turned on his side and opened his legs, let me pass 
To the dark parts behind. 
I kissed as I went 
The great thick cord that ran back from his balls to his arse. 
Prying the buttocks aside, I nosed my way in 
Down the shaggy slopes. I came to the puckered goal. 
It was quick to my licking. He pressed his crotch to my chin. 
His thighs squirmed as my tongue wormed in his hole. 

His sensations yearned for consummation. He untucked 
His legs and lay panting, hot as a teen-age boy. 
Naked, enlarged, charged, aching to get sucked, 
Clawing the sheet, all his pores open to joy...


  1. I uploaded this documentary almost three years ago 'cause it's awesome:

    Tell Me the Truth About Love

    You can see Chester at Auden's funeral at the 1 minute mark with his eyes closed and hand over his heart. :'(

  2. Thanks for the link to Wood’s essay, if only for the little titbit confirming my suspicions about Auden’s technique. “According to Harold Norse, who had first-hand experience, regardless of his enthusiasm for the act Auden was actually an inept fellator.” When I read the poem many years ago I remember thinking if this is indicative of Auden’s rhythm then god help anyone on the receiving end.

    - matthew davis