W. H. Auden, May with its light behaving

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“May with its light behaving” (1935; revised under the title “May”, 1966) is a 28-line poem by W. H. Auden, classified by him as a “song”. It treats the traditional subject of springtime renewal in a modernised manner combining Freudian motifs with an anxious historical and moral awareness, culminating in a restatement of Auden’s recurrent theme at this time, the pettiness of private loves in a world of injustice. By contrast with Auden’s earlier spring-piece, Part I of “It was Easter as I walked in the public gardens” (1930; later titled “1929”), this poem is notably impersonal, lacking as it does any lyric “I” figure, or any emotional response to spring’s arrival.

Auden seems to have written “May with its light behaving” in 1934, then to have held it

2264 words

Citation: Baldick, Chris. "May with its light behaving". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 16 February 2017 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=35867, accessed 05 March 2024.]

35867 May with its light behaving 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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