Wednesday 21 February 2007

Auden would have been 100 years old today

Stop all the clocks. Today is W.H. Auden's 100th birthday. It is being celebrated on both sides of the Atlantic, as both the United Kingdom and the United States like to claim him as one of their own, which in many ways is true. Tributes abound. The Guardian reports on taxi cab drivers reciting the poet's work. The New York Sun has a wonderful homage written by Adam Kirsch. The website of the W.H. Auden Society, horribly designed as it is, has a great wealth of information on Auden's life and works, including a round up of centenary celebrations happening throughout the year in Britain. Alas, it's not all candy and wine. British Poet Laureate Andrew Motion despairs that York, Auden's home city, has fallen short of giving their favourite son a proper celebration. But wherever you are, you can celebrate this special day by curling up with a volume of Auden's poems and remembering why so many readers continue to love his work. Don't have a book? There are plenty of his poems to be found on the internet. For a start, why not visit the Academy of American Poets; their page for Auden contains some wonderful poems and even some recordings of Auden reading aloud. His voice, speaking to us from beyond the grave as digitized bits in cyberspace, is as charming and gregarious as ever.

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