Religion Project

Morrie quoted the poet Auden. “we must love one another  or die”. Find out what this poem came from, and what it is about.

W. H. Auden

W. H. Auden was admired for his unsurpassed technical virtuosity and ability to write poems in nearly every imaginable verse form; his incorporation of popular culture, current events, and vernacular speech in his work; and also for the vast range of his intellect, which drew easily from an extraordinary variety of literature’s, art forms, social and political theories, and scientific and technical information. Wystan Hugh Auden was born in York, England, on February 21, 1907. He moved to Birmingham during childhood and was educated at Christ Church, Oxford.  At Oxford his precocity as a poet was immediately apparent, and he formed lifelong friendships with two fellow writers, Steven Spender  and Christopher Isherwood.In 1928, his collection Poems was privately printed, but it wasn’t until 1930, when another collection titled Poems (though its contents were different) was published, that Auden was established as the leading voice of a new generation

Auden’s poem with its obvious reference to the beginning of World War II begins like this.

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Clearly the original sentiment”we must love one another or die”suggests that love could save us from war or even conquer death by granting a kind of immortality. The revised version”we must love one another and die”expresses an existential sentiment. We can love but it makes no real difference. Life is ultimately tragedy.Image result for auden we must love

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