The Nottingham Poetry Society’s 3rd David Holliday Lecture
Critiques of WH Auden’s poetry are often characterised by markers such as Early,
Middle or Late Auden, The English Auden, The American Auden. Rarely is attention
paid to the very late Auden – poems written either just before his return to England in
1972, or during the last unhappy year in Oxford before his death in September 1973
– a period when he appeared, to the disdain of critics, to be more interested in talking
to himself or plants and beasts than his fellow humans.
This talk, which will include recordings of Auden reading a selection of these poems,
argues that far from being the last withered shoots from an ailing tree, they are vital
growths from the 20th century’s greatest English poet, poems that pursue with fresh
insights and in masterly forms, the themes that engaged Auden throughout his life.
Adrian Buckner is a poet, whose own work has been published by Five Leaves and Leafe Press.
In association with Nottingham Poetry Society
Image courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery
Christopher Isherwood; W.H. Auden by Keystone Press Agency Ltd
bromide press print, 1938 NPG x137621 © National Portrait Gallery, London