W. H. Auden, In Praise of Limestone

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“In Praise of Limestone” (1948) is a poem of 93 unrhymed lines by W. H. Auden, one of the most highly regarded of his post-1939 works. It celebrates the gentle contours typical of a limestone landscape as a sustaining home to human values of easy tolerance, this terrain being indulgent and forgiving by contrast with the fanaticisms that Auden associates with the ocean and with lands of granite or clay. It draws upon Auden’s lifelong fascination with geology: his elder brother John Auden was an eminent professional geologist (hence the allusion to sibling rivalry at lines 18-20). Auden’s poem offers no scenic description, but in a playfully allegorical manner invites us to read physical and human geographies in terms of each other. Its style is flexibly unassertive, more informally…

2239 words

Citation: Baldick, Chris. "In Praise of Limestone". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 09 October 2017 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=38785, accessed 22 April 2024.]

38785 In Praise of Limestone 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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