This latest, serious work of W. H. Auden, undoubtedly one of the few first line poets of our day, is described as a baroque...

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THE AGE OF ANXIETY

This latest, serious work of W. H. Auden, undoubtedly one of the few first line poets of our day, is described as a baroque eclogue, a ""pastoral convention set in contrast to an artificial style of diction"". Actually it is a meditative dialogue occurring between four very modern characters in a bar. If it is the poet's function to describe with the accuracy of a precision instrument and the brilliance of a diamond, the exact mood of the moment, then this work is a great success. If this is what the poet set out to do, we can say he has fulfilled his purpose completely, with his usual technical skill, not to say pyrotechnics. His versification is practically perfect, his satire is withering, his sense of the aridity, desperation and vacuity of the moment, is overwhelming. Even the fact that the four ""characters"" can scarcely be distinguished one from the other, help the effect of futile forlorness.....I doubt that Auden had more than this in mind. And so no criticism is called for.....But if a poet's role is still that of a ""maker"" this poem is a failure, -- even more: this poet is a failure, for he fails to glimpse ""the seed beneath the snow""., which the whole world is yearning for. And if we cannot look to our poets for this reviving glimpse, to whom can we look? I do not neglect the last few stanzas which pay a sort of faint, desperate lip service to faith which are quite overwhelmed by the total effect of the rest of the poem.....This is very good Auden, and all Auden lovers will admit it and want to read it. Nevertheless, it is utterly dull, dreary and dispiriting.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1947