Best known contemporary English poet, with two long poems, The Sea and the Mirror, a commentary on The Tempest; and For the Time Being -- a Christmas Oratorio. Both are highly philosophical, highly satirical works, witty, difficult, and intellectual. Auden's virtuosity makes him interesting to poets; his great capacity to think in modern terms makes him interesting to intellectuals. Portions of these are so brilliant that they may well become a permanent part of English literature -- and the main theme is the same in both poems, -- the pressing problem of modern man in evaluating the ideal as against the real, in weighing the ordered realm of art against the chaos of reality. His answer is not far from Pope's ""whatever is, is right"". To state his major theme is to omit a dozen of his lesser ones, his flying barbs at many a philosophical puzzle, and many a modern , to omit the lightness and deftness of his touch, and also the felicity of his words and sentences. This is a serious, a competent, a very interesting work. Mr Auden is trying to persuade himself -- and us -- to believe in ""the moderate Aristotelian world"". But do his talents really permit him to do so?