Juvenilia: Poems, 1922-1928

Juvenilia: Poems, 1922-1928

by W. H. Auden
     
 

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You know the terror that for poets lurks

Beyond the ferry when to Minos brought.

Poets must utter their Collected Works,

Including Juvenilia.. . .

—from "Letter to Lord Byron" (1936)

Regardless of how poets feel about their youthful attempts at verse, their early poems not only enrich our understanding of their artistic growth, but also reveal much

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Overview

You know the terror that for poets lurks

Beyond the ferry when to Minos brought.

Poets must utter their Collected Works,

Including Juvenilia.. . .

—from "Letter to Lord Byron" (1936)

Regardless of how poets feel about their youthful attempts at verse, their early poems not only enrich our understanding of their artistic growth, but also reveal much about the nature of literary genius. No other twentieth-century poet has left behind such a wealth of early poetry as did W. H. Auden. By bringing together for the first time all the poems written by Auden between the ages of fifteen and twenty-one (1922-1928), this book allows us a rare, detailed look at the literary personality, development, and preoccupations of a major poet. Auden's readers will be fascinated to find in these poems the earliest evidence of his interest in psychoanalysis, his conflicted attitude toward his homosexuality, his self-conscious approach to poetry, and his life-long journey toward a religious sense of the world.

This collection includes over two hundred poems, most of them never published before, concluding with the contents of Auden's privately printed volume, Poems (1928). The poems are generously annotated with information on Auden's education, reading, literary concerns, and personal life. In her introduction, Katherine Bucknell traces important themes relating to the poet's entire career, and describes crucial but hitherto unknown aspects of his youth during his years at Gresham's School and at Christ Church, Oxford. Throughout this work we see in Auden an admirable instinct for experiment, a thorough testing of tradition, and a gathering mastery of technique and thematic argument.

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Editorial Reviews

Times Literary Supplement - John Bayley
Katherine Bucknell has done an excellent job as an editor. . . . [Auden] would have acknowledged that this is the way scholarship should go about its job.
London Review of Books - Ian Hamilton
Auden's Poems (1930) [is] one of the century's most weirdly original first books. Thanks to Katherine Bucknell, we can now ponder in detail how he got there.
Chicago Tribune - Valentine Cunningham
As loving and meticulous and informing an edition as any writer, young or old, could wish for. . . . Watching Auden invent Audenesque is one of the many joys of this volume.
From the Publisher
"Katherine Bucknell has done an excellent job as an editor. . . . [Auden] would have acknowledged that this is the way scholarship should go about its job."—John Bayley,Times Literary Supplement

"Auden's Poems (1930) [is] one of the century's most weirdly original first books. Thanks to Katherine Bucknell, we can now ponder in detail how he got there."—Ian Hamilton, London Review of Books

"As loving and meticulous and informing an edition as any writer, young or old, could wish for. . . . Watching Auden invent Audenesque is one of the many joys of this volume."—Valentine Cunningham, Chicago Tribune

"Containing more than two hundred poems, the book chronicles Auden's progress from his first verses, written when he was fifteen years old . . . As one of the most complete and scrupulous accounts of a major poet's apprenticeship, it offers what amounts to a series of master classes in the development of poetic talent and the acquisition of rhetorical skill."Poetry

Times Literary Supplement
Katherine Bucknell has done an excellent job as an editor. . . . [Auden] would have acknowledged that this is the way scholarship should go about its job.
— John Bayley
London Review of Books
Auden's Poems (1930) [is] one of the century's most weirdly original first books. Thanks to Katherine Bucknell, we can now ponder in detail how he got there.
— Ian Hamilton
Chicago Tribune
As loving and meticulous and informing an edition as any writer, young or old, could wish for. . . . Watching Auden invent Audenesque is one of the many joys of this volume.
— Valentine Cunningham
Poetry
Containing more than two hundred poems, the book chronicles Auden's progress from his first verses, written when he was fifteen years old . . . As one of the most complete and scrupulous accounts of a major poet's apprenticeship, it offers what amounts to a series of master classes in the development of poetic talent and the acquisition of rhetorical skill.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This posthumous publication, scrupulously edited and annotated by Bucknell, includes all of the still extant poems written by Auden (Selected Poems) between the ages of 16 and 22. The poems reveal Auden very deliberately cultivating influences: Walter de la Mare, W.H. Davies, Edward Thomas, Thomas Hardy, T.S. Eliot. If the work itself is unremarkable (though the poems in the manner of Thomas have a certain blandly ingenuous charm), it is still exhilarating to see just how quickly Auden learned from and, at least on the terms of technique, even surpassed his teachers. But what was he to use his phenomenal formal gifts for? Intelligently augmented by passages from his correspondence, Juvenilia shows him finding a cryptic, allusive language, at once intimate and hortatory, which allowed his intelligence free play and helped to transform the social and personal alienation he felt as a homosexual into a source of imaginative authority. But in another sense, the book suggests reasons for Auden's later decline: the prodigiously clever schoolboy, possessed of much information and an astounding technical facility, but emotionally adrift, seems the forerunner of the prematurely aged wise man, who, no longer gratified by his own amazing powers, resigned himself to having opinions and playing tricks in verse. (Sept.)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691102818
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
01/06/2003
Series:
W.H. Auden: Critical Editions Series
Edition description:
Expanded Paperback edition with a twenty-two Newly discovered poems
Pages:
360
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.36(h) x 0.88(d)

What People are saying about this

McClatchy
Auden's early poems form a crucial chapter in the history of his imagination. By collecting and annotating these poems with an elegant scrupulosity, Katherine Bucknell has produced a very valuable addition to Auden studies and an indispensable book for the study of modern poetry.
J. D. McClatchy, Editor, "The Yale Review"
John Fuller
The evolution of a great poet is abundantly manifest here, in a volume essential not only to lovers of Auden himself, but to all who are intrigued by chrysalid mysteries.
John Fuller, Magdalen College, Oxford

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