“September I, 1939” is a nine-stanza poem by W. H. Auden, written in New York City in response to the German invasion of Poland that triggered the Second World War. For many readers it has been a favourite among Auden’s poems, and it is one of his most widely quoted. Auden himself later came to disparage this poem as a dishonest work, at first deleting its memorable eighth stanza for his collections of 1945 and 1950, and then repudiating it altogether. For this reason it is not to be found in Auden’s posthumous

Collected Poems

(1976), but it is reprinted in full in the

Selected Poems

(ed. Edward Mendelson, 1979; revd. 2009).

Auden wrote this poem, as its title suggests, in early September 1939, and it first appeared in the following month as “September: 1939” in the magazine

2243 words

Citation: Baldick, Chris. "September I, 1939". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 October 2017 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=38794, accessed 22 April 2024.]

38794 September I, 1939 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.

Save this article

If you need to create a new bookshelf to save this article in, please make sure that you are logged in, then go to your 'Account' here

Leave Feedback

The Literary Encyclopedia is a living community of scholars. We welcome comments which will help us improve.