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quotations The Best W. H. Auden Quotes  

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A list of the best W. H. Auden quotes. This list is arranged by which famous W. H. Auden quotes have received the most votes, so only the greatest W. H. Auden quotes are at the top of the list. All the most popular quotes from W. H. Auden should be listed here, but if any were missed you can add more at the end of the list. This list includes notable W. H. Auden quotes on various subjects, many of which are inspirational and thought provoking.

This list answers the questions, "What are the best W. H. Auden quotes?" and "What is the most famous W. H. Auden quote?"

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We are here on earth to do good to others. What the others are here for, I don't know. W. H. Auden

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

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

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

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

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To pray is to pay attention to something or someone other than oneself. Whenever a man so concentrates his attention -- on a landscape, a poem, a geometrical problem, an idol, or the True God -- that he completely forgets his own ego and desires, he is praying. The primary task of the schoolteacher is to teach children, in a secular context, the technique of prayer. W. H. Auden

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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

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

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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

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

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As a poet there is only one political duty, and that is to defend one's language against corruption. When it is corrupted, people lose faith in what they hear and this leads to violence. W. H. Auden

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If music in general is an imitation of history, opera in particular is an imitation of human willfulness; it is rooted in the fact that we not only have feelings but insist upon having them at whatever cost to ourselves. The quality common to all the great operatic roles, e.g., Don Giovanni, Norma, Lucia, Tristan, Isolde, Br?nnhilde, is that each of them is a passionate and willful state of being. In real life they would all be bores, even Don Giovanni. W. H. Auden

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

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

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

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A doctor, like anyone else who has to deal with human beings, each of them unique, cannot be a scientist; he is either, like the surgeon, a craftsman, or, like the physician and the psychologist, an artist. This means that in order to be a good doctor a man must also have a good character, that is to say, whatever weaknesses and foibles he may have, he must love his fellow human beings in the concrete and desire their good before his own. W. H. Auden

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We must love one another or die. W. H. Auden

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Of course, behaviorism works. So does torture. Give me a no-nonsense, down-to-earth behaviorist, a few drugs, and simple electrical appliances, and in six months I will have him reciting the Athanasian Creed in public. W. H. Auden

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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

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There's only one good test of pornography. Get twelve normal men to read the book, and then ask them, Did you get an erection? If the answer is Yes from a majority of the twelve, then the book is pornographic. W. H. Auden

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It is... axiomatic that we should all think of ourselves as being more sensitive than other people because, when we are insensitive in our dealings with others, we cannot be aware of it at the time: conscious insensitivity is a self-contradiction. W. H. Auden

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Dogmatic theological statements are neither logical propositions nor poetic utterances. They are shaggy dog stories; they have a point, but he who tries too hard to get it will miss it. W. H. Auden

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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

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

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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

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A tremendous number of people in America work very hard at something that bores them. Even a rich man thinks he has to go down to the office everyday. Not because he likes it but because he can't think of anything else to do. W. H. Auden

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

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

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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

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

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

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Narcissus does not fall in love with his reflection because it is beautiful, but because it is his. If it were his beauty that enthralled him, he would be set free in a few years by its fading. W. H. Auden

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Anyone who has a child today should train him to be either a physicist or a ballet dancer. Then he'll escape. W. H. Auden

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It is already possible to imagine a society in which the majority of the population, that is to say, its laborers, will have almost as much leisure as in earlier times was enjoyed by the aristocracy. When one recalls how aristocracies in the past actually behaved, the prospect is not cheerful. W. H. Auden

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A daydream is a meal at which images are eaten. Some of us are gourmets, some gourmands, and a good many take their images precooked out of a can and swallow them down whole, absent-mindedly and with little relish. W. H. Auden

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To the man-in-the-street, who, I'm sorry to say, is a keen observer of life. The word Intellectual suggests straight away. A man who's untrue to his wife. W. H. Auden

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

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Poetry makes nothing happen. It survives in the valley of its saying. W. H. Auden

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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

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I cannot accept the doctrine that in poetry there is a suspension of belief. A poet must never make a statement simply because it is sounds poetically exciting; he must also believe it to be true. W. H. Auden

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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

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In a land which is fully settled, most men must accept their local environment or try to change it by political means; only the exceptionally gifted or adventurous can leave to seek his fortune elsewhere. In America, on the other hand, to move on and make a fresh start somewhere else is still the normal reaction to dissatisfaction and failure. W. H. Auden

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

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You must go to bed with friends or whores, where money makes up the difference in beauty or desire. W. H. Auden

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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

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A false enchantment can all too easily last a lifetime. W. H. Auden

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Rhymes, meters, stanza forms, etc., are like servants. If the master is fair enough to win their affection and firm enough to command their respect, the result is an orderly happy household. If he is too tyrannical, they give notice; if he lacks authority, they become slovenly, impertinent, drunk and dishonest. W. H. Auden

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Eagerly, musician,Sweep your string,So we may sing,Elated, optative,Our several voicesInterblending,Playfully contending,Not interferingBut co-inhering,For all withinThe cincture of the soundIs holy ground,Where all are Brothers,None faceless Others. Let mortals bewareOf words, forWith words we lie,Can say peaceWhen we mean war,Foul thought speak fairAnd promise falsely,But song is true:Let music for peaceBe the paradigm,For peace means to changeAt the right time,As the World-Clock,Goes Tick and Tock. So may the storyOf our human cityPresently moveLike music, whenBegotten notesNew notes beget,Making the flowingOf time a growing,Till what it could be,At last it is,Where even sadnessIs a form of gladness,Where Fate is Freedom,Grace and Surprise. W. H. Auden

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

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America has always been a country of amateurs where the professional, that is to say, the man who claims authority as a member of an ?lite which knows the law in some field or other, is an object of distrust and resentment. W. H. Auden