W. H. Auden, In Memory of W B Yeats

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W. H. Auden’s “In Memory of W. B. Yeats” (1939) is one of his most celebrated poems: it enjoys a critical reputation as the finest poetic elegy written in English in the twentieth century, a work that boldly recast the conventions of formal elegiac verse for a disenchanted modern age. The first poem that Auden wrote after his emigration from England to New York in January 1939, it has further importance in formulating his view of poetry’s place in the modern world, including as it does his controversial assertion that poetry “makes nothing happen”. The poem is not an outpouring of personal grief (Auden had met Yeats socially, without warming to him), but is best considered as a ceremonial homage to a literary master, cast in notably ambivalent terms: it duly honours and…

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Citation: Baldick, Chris. "In Memory of W B Yeats". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 October 2018 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=38875, accessed 22 June 2024.]

38875 In Memory of W B Yeats 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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