W. H. Auden: In Praise of Limestone (2239 words)


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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 …

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 17 April 2021.]

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