In Memory of W.B. Yeats
by W.H. Auden
In Memory of W.B. Yeats Art and Culture Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Line)
[…] it survives,
A way of happening, a mouth. (40-41)
When everything else in the world is isolating and frozen and uncaring, poetry seems to have a way of moving between people and things and unlocking feelings. But can one little poem really do all that work? Auden sure thinks it can. Poetry seems to have its own energy in this passage, a motion that's inherent in its form.
With the farming of a verse
Make a vineyard of the curse,
Sing of human unsuccess
In a rapture of distress; (58-61)
What makes a good poem? Well, for one thing, a grounding in reality. This isn't a time for sunshine and flowers. It's an unhappy time – and this poem (like Yeats's) takes stock of that. But it also manages to transform barrenness into something fruitful (that's the whole "vineyard of the curse" thing).