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When I find myself in the company of scientists,
by W. H. Auden

When I find myself in the company of scientists,
I feel like a shabby curate who has strayed by mistake
into a room full of dukes.
- W. H. Auden

Related topics: Science

A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.
- W. H. Auden

Music is the best means we have of digesting time.
- W. H. Auden

No good opera plot can be sensible, for people do not
sing when they are feeling sensible.
- W. H. Auden

 

The words of a dead man are modified in the guts of the living.
- W. H. Auden

My face looks like a wedding-cake left out in the rain.
- W. H. Auden

If time were the wicked sheriff in a horse opera,
I'd pay for riding lessons and take his gun away.
- W. H. Auden

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I don't get acting jobs because of my looks.
- W. H. Auden

A poet is a professional maker of verbal objects.
- W. H. Auden

In times of joy, all of us wished we possessed a tail we could wag.
- W. H. Auden

Now is the age of anxiety.
- W. H. Auden

When I am in the company of scientists,
I feel like a shabby curate who has strayed by mistake
into a drawing room full of dukes.
- W. H. Auden

One cannot walk through an assembly factory and not
feel that one is in Hell.
- W. H. Auden

A real book is not one that we read,
but one that reads us.
- W. H. Auden

For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?
- W. H. Auden

Hemingway is terribly limited.
His technique is good for short stories,
for people who meet once in a bar very late at night,
but do not enter into relations.
But not for the novel.
- W. H. Auden

If equal affection cannot be, let the more loving be me.
- W. H. Auden

Men will pay large sums to whores for telling them they are not bores.
- W. H. Auden

It takes little talent to see what lies under one's nose,
a good deal to know in what direction to point that organ.
- W. H. Auden

It is a sad fact about our culture that a poet can
earn much more money writing or talking about his art
than he can by practicing it.
- W. H. Auden

Evil is unspectacular and always human,
and shares our bed and eats at our own table.
- W. H. Auden

Health is the state about which medicine has nothing to say.
- W. H. Auden

We all have these places where shy humiliations gambol on sunny afternoons.
- W. H. Auden

Art is our chief means of breaking bread with the dead.
- W. H. Auden

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

Fame often makes a writer vain, but seldom makes him proud.
- W. H. Auden

Art is born of humiliation.
- W. H. Auden

A professor is someone who talks in someone else's sleep.
- W. H. Auden

All that we are not stares back at what we are.
- W. H. Auden

No poet or novelist wishes he were the only one who ever lived,
but most of them wish they were the only one alive,
and quite a number fondly believe their wish has been granted.
- W. H. Auden

No hero is mortal till he dies.
- W. H. Auden

No human being is innocent, but there is a class of
innocent human actions called Games.
- W. H. Auden

All sins tend to be addictive, and the terminal point
of addiction is damnation.
- W. H. Auden

The class distinctions proper to a democratic society
are not those of rank or money,
still less, as is apt to happen when these are abandoned,
of race, but of age.
- W. H. Auden

You owe it to all of us all get on with what you're good at.
- W. H. Auden

Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.
- W. H. Auden

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

God bless the USA, so large, so friendly,
and so rich.
- W. H. Auden

Geniuses are the luckiest of mortals because what they
must do is the same as what they most want to do.
- W. H. Auden

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.
- W. H. Auden

All works of art are commissioned in the sense that
no artist can create one by a simple act of will but
must wait until what he believes to be a good idea for a work comes to him.
- W. H. Auden

A poet can write about a man slaying a dragon,
but not about a man pushing a button that releases a bomb.
- W. H. Auden

Some books are undeservedly forgotten;
none are undeservedly remembered.
- W. H. Auden

In a world of prayer, we are all equal in the sense
that each of us is a unique person,
with a unique perspective on the world,
a member of a class of one.
- W. H. Auden

Learn from your dreams what you lack.
- W. H. Auden

'Healing,' Papa would tell me, 'is not a science,
but the intuitive art of wooing nature.'
- W. H. Auden

Death is the sound of distant thunder at a picnic.
- W. H. Auden

To save your world you asked this man to die;
would this man,
could he see you now, ask why?
- W. H. Auden

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

Between friends differences in taste or opinion are
irritating in direct proportion to their triviality.
- W. H. Auden

You know there are no secrets in America.
It's quite different in England, where people think
of a secret as a shared relation between two people.
- W. H. Auden

Music can be made anywhere, is invisible and does not smell.
- W. H. Auden

What the mass media offers is not popular art,
but entertainment which is intended to be consumed like food,
forgotten, and replaced by a new dish.
- W. H. Auden

Good can imagine Evil; but Evil cannot imagine Good.
- W. H. Auden

Almost all of our relationships begin and most of them
continue as forms of mutual exploitation,
a mental or physical barter, to be terminated when
one or both parties run out of goods.
- W. H. Auden

Every American poet feels that the whole responsibility
for contemporary poetry has fallen upon his shoulders,
that he is a literary aristocracy of one.
- W. H. Auden

I'll love you, dear, I'll love you till China and Africa
meet and the river jumps over the mountain and the
salmon sing in the street.
- W. H. Auden

In relation to a writer, most readers believe in the Double Standard:
they may be unfaithful to him as often as they like,
but he must never, never be unfaithful to them.
- W. H. Auden

Every autobiography is concerned with two characters,
a Don Quixote, the Ego, and a Sancho Panza,
the Self.
- W. H. Auden

Of all possible subjects, travel is the most difficult for an artist,
as it is the easiest for a journalist.
- W. H. Auden

Murder is commoner among cooks than among members of any other profession.
- W. H. Auden

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

We are all here on earth to help others;
what on earth the others are here for I don't know.
- W. H. Auden

Sob, heavy world Sob as you spin, Mantled in mist Remote from the happy.
- W. H. Auden

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

The ear tends to be lazy, craves the familiar and is
shocked by the unexpected;
the eye,
on the other hand, tends to be impatient,
craves the novel and is bored by repetition.
- W. H. Auden

The center that I cannot find is known to my unconscious mind.
- W. H. Auden

Like everything which is not the involuntary result
of fleeting emotion but the creation of time and will,
any marriage, happy or unhappy, is infinitely more
interesting than any romance,
however passionate.
- W. H. Auden

May it not be that, just as we have to have faith in Him,
God has to have faith in us and, considering the history
of the human race so far,
may it not be that "faith" is even more difficult for Him than it is for us?
- W. H. Auden

Murder is unique in that it abolishes the party it injures,
so that society has to take the place of the victim
and on his behalf demand atonement or grant forgiveness;
it is the one crime in which society has a direct interest.
- W. H. Auden

Before people complain of the obscurity of modern poetry,
they should first examine their consciences and ask
themselves with how many people and on how many occasions
they have genuinely and profoundly shared some experience with another.
- W. H. Auden


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