Click Image to Visit the Pecan Grove Press Web Page for Poetry from Paradise Valley


Poetry From Paradise Valley

Pecan Grove Press has released an anthology of poems, a sampling of works published in Valparaiso Poetry Review during its first decade, from the original 1999-2000 volume to the 2009-2010 volume.

Poetry from Paradise Valley includes a stellar roster of 50 poets. Among the contributors are a former Poet Laureate of the United States, a winner of the Griffin International Prize, two Pulitzer Prize winners, two National Book Award winners, two National Book Critics Circle winners, six finalists for the National Book Award, four finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and a few dozen recipients of other honors, such as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, etc.

Readers are encouraged to visit the Poetry from Paradise Valley page at the publisher's web site, where ordering information about the book can be found.

Best Books of Indiana 2011: Finalist. Judges' Citation: "Poetry from Paradise Valley is an excellent anthology that features world-class poetry, including the work of many artists from the Midwest, such as Jared Carter, Annie Finch, David Baker, and Allison Joseph. It’s an eclectic and always interesting collection where poems on similar themes flow into each other. It showcases the highest caliber of U. S. poetry."
—Indiana Center for the Book, Indiana State Library

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

W.H. Auden: "September 1, 1939"

On the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Poland by Germany and the opening of World War II, perhaps today presents the perfect time to revisit W.H. Auden’s famous poem, “September 1, 1939,” written in the immediate aftermath of those events. The piece appeared in The New Republic in October of 1939, and it was included in Auden’s 1940 collection of poetry, Another Time, published by Random House. Although this poem has been a favorite of many readers ever since, it received particular renewed attention in the days after September 11 in 2001, and not just for the uncanny superficial similarities in lines like the following: “The unmentionable odour of death / Offends the September night.”

However, we also know Auden became disenchanted with his own poem soon after its publication. Auden attempted editing the work from the very start, omitting a couple of stanzas even before its publication and later changing one of the poem’s most memorable lines, which Auden concluded displayed “dishonesty”: “We must love one another or die” became “We must love one another and die.” Auden eventually revised the poem by deleting the stanza containing that line. Finally, still unhappy with the language, he tried to limit reprinting of the poem altogether by refusing almost all requests for its inclusion in anthologies.

One reason for Auden’s change of heart about this poem could be a personal shift in political perspective on his part as he moved from England to the United States and drifted away from his earlier stance as one sympathetic to socialism, adopting more concern for religion as well. The poem also attracted criticism from some readers for what they perceived as too easy an explanation for horrible actions, if not an excuse for evil behavior, in lines such as the following: “Those to whom evil is done / Do evil in return.”

Nevertheless, as evidenced by the work’s enduring stature seventy years after its composition despite Auden’s attempts to erase it from his body of work, and as witnessed in the poem’s recent popularity after 9/11, most readers have responded well to the poetry, even if many apparently seem to misread some of its elements. As Adam Gopnik has written in The New Yorker (“The Double Man”: September 23, 2002): “‘September 1, 1939,’ far from being a call to renewed conscience after a period of drift, is actually a call to irony and apolitical retreat, a call not to answer any call. But, past a certain point, poets can’t be misread, not by an entire time, no more than an entire family can misread a father: the homecoming noises in the hallway are the man; the accumulated impression is the poet. What matters is the sound he makes. Auden’s emotional tone is our tone, even if his meanings are not always our meanings.”


I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism’s face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
“I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,”
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

—W.H. Auden


Gio Ve said...

Your report is very interesting indeed.
I invite You to visit htto://www.pillandia.blogspot.com , a great collection of large views of political borders, from all the world.
In the page about Poland there is the photo of the Germans who broke tre Polish border 70 years ago.
Helping text in 32 languages.
Best wishes from Italy!

Unknown said...

This Sunday herald of the daily Newspaper,Deccan Herald published from Bangalore India, carries an article by Vijay nambisan where he is inspired by Auden's poem 1 Sep 1939. It is true that the decade after the millenium was born has been challenging to the spirit and the GODS.
I was born in 1939 and always wondered how the world and India has changed from slavery to freedom, from lack of opportunity to plenty of opportunity, from autocratice dictators to benevolent leaders; and lo this slack in our psyche has lead to indiscipline and anarchy. We as netizens are learning how to live and die with love and hatred too.
Septembers as a month have been filled with horror stories 9/11 and 26/11 in India when the Taj Hotel burnt.
I am still hopeful and not cynical yet to blame it all to those then lived with me, for one reason I will live - to help undo what my contemporaries injected into society as role models of hypocrasy
Being a change management facilitator, i am doing my little best to set standards that will sustain the earth and the relationships between people and nations to re-discover new ways and new forms to live and search for a deeper meaning and self individuation.Thank you Auden. My reach is vasudevan65@yahoo.co.in

inchirieri apartamente cluj said...

"I totally agree with the line ""Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return"". It is a fact.

People who have been persecuted, were not wanted by their parents, mocked for the unfortunate situation they were in as children, they are not able to learn/do good. One example is Hitler. After the death of his mother, the person that loved him, everything was different.

We have to be really careful with what we learn our children, and how we treat the ones that are not as fortunate as us. "

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