WH Auden on how it feels to start a war

No one ever captured the terrible change from peace to war as well as WH Auden in 1st September 1939. The dream like feeling of a new terrifying age forming around us, while still surrounded by the comfy furniture of the old. Here he is on the day that Hitler smashed into Poland

  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.

We take this from poets.org The full poem can be found by clicking this link to their superb site


1939 is not really so very long ago. Older readers will remember their parents’ stories of that war. The same issues are are stake now. Victory was won because we were happy to cast aside our old pleasures, habits and beliefs. If the dictator wins they are gone anyway, because in a dictatorship no one else can ever have free title to anything except for the dictator. So let things boil down to essentials, and be happy with them, because they are yours.

And, just like 1939, there is one question. When there are so many urgent problems in the world, and so many opportunities to make things better, why did Vladimir Putin chose to do this?

#russia #putin #ukraine #war #wh auden #poets.org #fredom #democracy #dictatorship #hitler

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