W. H. Auden, Lay your sleeping head, my love

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“Lay your sleeping head, my love” (1937; titled “Lullaby” from 1958) is W. H. Auden’s most widely admired love-poem. For many readers it has come to stand as the exemplary modern love-poem in its anti-transcendental treasuring of the beloved’s mortal vulnerability. It offers in its forty lines a sober meditation on the fragility of individual erotic attachment in a world of imperfection and impermanence, and closes with a prayer-like blessing upon the beloved. Auden’s occasion for writing it was the final stage of a love-affair with a teenage boy, but -- as with nearly all his other love-poems of the 1933-37 period -- the poem carefully avoids specification of gender, so it has often been acclaimed as universally relevant to the feelings of any lover, irrespective of…

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Citation: Baldick, Chris. "Lay your sleeping head, my love". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 12 December 2016 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=35846, accessed 19 April 2024.]

35846 Lay your sleeping head, my love 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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