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Some say love's a little boy...

Posted on: Monday, 26 September 2011

This week, work has required me to get to grips with WH Auden.

Now let it be known, I like miserable poets. Particularly miserable British and Irish poets of the 1930s and 40s.

Miserable poets are well and truly my thing. I like the way they deal with misery. It's elegant and understated. I think you've already heard my thoughts on Thomas Hardy - now THERE was a miserable bastard - but, hey, each to their own. I once worked with a teacher who rated Dave Pelzer as a writer. That was uncomfortable. And if you share that view, well, I think it's best we never meet. Soz.

I'm not denying that he went through a horrific experience. However, he's also responsible the horrific Airport Fiction experience I go through once or twice a year. Seriously, have you ever tried to find a book that isn't about child abuse at an airport WH Smith? I've taken to hiding them behind Lonely Planet guides and naff autobiographies. Pelzer spawned an entire genre of fiction that didn't previously exist - FOR A GOOD REASON. Who wants to read about child abuse? I don't get it. People give these books to each for Christmas, for God's sake. Christ. And Christmas is statistically an annual suicide high-point. Coincidence? I think not.

But I digress. Miserable poets float my boat. So much so that when the English department decided to run a after-school enrichment club for clever kids eager beavers and we each had to nominate a Specialist Subject, Mastermind-style, I went with the misery.

"Miserable 1940s Poets. I'll think of a better name."

And of all the miserable poets, Auden is probably my favourite.

Probably. Possibly. Bah, too hard.

But it ain't all sad, is it? Look at this cheeky little devil.

We don't teach this beauty at AS level. But I did consider it as a wedding reading

It's so jolly and bouncy. Musing on the matter of love, the line 'Is it usually sick on a swing?' never fails to raise a smile. And the final stanza is near-perfection.

When it comes, will it come without warning
Just as I'm picking my nose?
Will it knock on my door in the morning,
Or tread in the bus on my toes?
Will it come like a change in the weather?
Will its greeting be courteous or rough? 
Will it alter my life altogether?
O tell me the truth about love.

(read its jolly entirety here)


Some Monday Auden-loving.


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