W. H. Auden: Tell Me the Truth About Love

W. H. Auden: Tell Me the Truth About Love

Biographic Notes

Wystan Hugh Auden (1907-1973) was born in York, England. He moved to Birmingham during childhood and was educated at Christ Church, Oxford. At Oxford his precocity as a poet was immediately apparent, and he formed lifelong friendships with two fellow writers, Stephen Spender and Christopher Isherwood.

As a young man, he traveled through Germany, Iceland, and China, served in the Spanish Civil war and in 1939 moved to the United States, where he met his lover, Chester Kallman, and became an American citizen. A prolific writer, Auden was also a noted playwright, librettist, editor, and essayist. Considered by some to be the greatest English poet of the twentieth century, his work has exerted a major influence on succeeding generations of poets on both sides of the Atlantic.

Dark Night of the Soul

In 1952, Auden and his life-long companion moved to an apartment at 77 St. Marks Place in New York’s East Village. It was, more or less, Auden’s permanent home for the rest of his life. During the initial years, Auden lived, however ambivalently, actively engaged in social and political interests, as well as enjoying his status as an internationally renowned poet. In his later years, Auden became increasingly withdrawn and lonely.

This was profoundly reflected in his writings, through which he deliberately attempted to discard much of his own public dignity, a significant sign that indicated the painful depth of his feelings of personal isolation. Many of his last poems spoke to, rather than about, silent objects and people who were either absent or dead. Ruminations about “night” (the darkness and ending of one’s day/life) dominated his writings in 1972, and particularly in his poem Lullaby that was addressed to himself. In that poem, writing about sleep was framed by the language of finality: “Let your last thinks all be thanks,” anticipating a time of final endings, completions and a state surpassing all feelings of resentment.

On another note, Auden’s life-long anxieties about his seemingly paradoxical wishes to maintain a clear sense of autonomy, versus his strong needs for attachment, were perhaps no more clearly presented than in his book of poems, About the House, inspired by various rooms in his home. Writing about groups of people visiting in the “living room”, Auden’s thoughts turned to the impact of the size of such rooms upon the internal experiences of psychological boundaries versus a lack of boundaries.

If the room was too small, he believed that, “…people can’t forget at will that they’re not alone.” In other words, they can’t remember that while together (or part of a “we”), they are also alone, instead drowning in a sense of enmeshment, lack of personal identity, autonomy and achievement.

At another extreme, if the room was too large, it would encourage people to engage in ever-more strong efforts to make contact with each other, with intensively forceful attempts to achieve a sense of attachment, along with heightened wishes and strivings for nurturing dependency.

Near the very end of his life, Auden’s poem entitled Loneliness purported to convey his prediction that his intense feelings of solitude would be relieved on the following day, when his companion, Chester Kallman, was to return. In fact, the poem only addresses in the first person his own terrifying image of Loneliness itself, the “Gate-crashing ghost, aggressive / invisible visitor.”

Concluding this brief commentary, we return to Auden’s feelings of the dark night of his soul as the end of life approached, best captured in his poem entitled Lullaby

Lullaby

First stanza
W. H. Auden (1907-1973)

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

Kenneth Granham Reads W. H. Auden’s Lullaby

W. H. Auden: Tell Me the Truth About Love

Tell Me the Truth About Love is a BBC documentary film looking at the poetry of W. H. Auden, revealing how it came not just from inspiration but from a rigorous personal analysis of love itself. When he died in 1973, he left behind some of the greatest love poems of the 20th century. Most of his unpublished material was destroyed, apart from two short journals and a series of jottings, containing diagrams and notes about the nature of love.

W. H. Auden: Tell Me the Truth About Love

Photo-Gallery: W. H. Auden Through the Years

(Please Click Image to View Gallery)

Please Share This:

Share

The Snowman: A Magical Journey of Adventure, Friendship, Death and Loss

The Snowman: A Magical Journey of Adventure, Friendship, Death and Loss

The Snowman is a magical, classic animated short film directed by Dianne Jackson, based on the best-selling children’s story by Raymond Briggs. The film premiered on the United Kingdom’s BBC Channel 4 on Christmas Eve 1982, and has aired every year since then. The Snowman won the 1983 BAFTA TV Award for Best Chilcren’s Program and was nominated for a 1983 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

The Snowman tells the wordless story of a young boy whose snowman comes to life on Christmas Eve and takes him on a series of adventures, only to melt into nothingness by dawn of the next day. It is a beloved holiday tradition; for many children of the 1970s and 1980s it was the first program they ever saw that addressed the issues of death and loss.

The Snowman: A Magical Journey of Adventure, Friendship, Death and Loss

A sequel to the silent Christmas classic The Snowman, titled The Snowman and the Snowdog, is scheduled to air this Monday on BBC’s Channel 4, more than 30 years after the original film’s premiere.

A Sequel to The Snowman: The Snowman and the Snowdog

Please Share This:

Share

Amy Winehouse, Iconic British Soul Singer, Dies at 27

Amy Winehouse, Iconic British Soul Singer, Dies at 27

Amy Winehouse, the iconic British soul singer, was found dead on Saturday in her London home. She was 27. The English singer found international fame with her smoky, hip-hop take on retro-soul, but she soon became a fixture of tabloid newspapers as her problems with drugs and alcohol brought about a strikingly public career collapse. The long, pathetic spectacle brought joy only to the jackals of the British tabloids, which sneered in big headlines at each new downturn.

Ms. Winehouse became one of the most acclaimed young singers of the 2000s, selling millions of albums, winning five Grammy Awards and kicking off the British trend of retro-soul and R&B that continues today. Ms. Winehouse had a public image that seemed almost defiantly self-destructive. In her songs, Winehouse sang alcohol-soaked regrets of failed romances, and for many listeners the lyrics to the song Rehab, which won her three of the five Grammy Awards she received in 2008, crystallized her public persona: “They tried to make me go to rehab,” she sang, “I said, No, no, no.”

Ms. Winehouse had not released an album since Back to Black, but recently she appeared to be trying to revive her career. However, last month she canceled a brief European comeback tour after a last-ever disastrous performance in Belgrade, during which she appeared too intoxicated to perform properly.

Read more about Amy Winehouse in today’s New York Times here.

Amy Winehouse: Back To Black (Last-Ever Performance, Belgrade, 2011)

Amy Winehouse: Rehab

Amy Winehouse: Live at BBC Sessions (3/8/2007)

Slide Show: Amy Winehouse, Iconic British Soul Singer, Dies at 27

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

Please Share This:

Share

Wish 143: A Final Encounter With the Wishman

Wish 143: A Final Encounter With the Wishman

Wish 143 is an acclaimed, quietly bittersweet short film directed by British filmmaker Ian Barnes, which is a 2011 Oscar Nominee for Best Live-Action Short Film. The film presents the touching emotional drama of a fifteen-year-old boy with only months to live, who is granted one final wish from the Dreamscape Charity. But David doesn’t want to go to Disneyland or meet Gary Neville; what he really wants is an hour alone with a naked woman. The air of impending mortality hangs over this gentle, wry tale, which in the end has little to do with sex and everything to do with the human need to find connection.

Wish 143: A Final Encounter With the Wishman

(Please Click Image to View Wish 143)

Please Share This:

Share

A Matter of Loaf and Death: Big Trouble at the Mill

A Matter of Loaf and Death: Big Trouble at the Mill

A Matter of Loaf and Death is an award-winning, delightful clay-animated short film directed by Nick Clark, a four-time Academy Award-winning English filmmaker of stop-motion animation.  The film, starring the much-loved duo Wallace and his faithful dog Gromit, is a Best Animated Short Films Nominee for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards.  A Matter of Loaf and Death played on BBC Television last year and was the highest-rated program of 2008 and the highest-rated non-sporting event in the United Kingdom since 2004.  In 2008, the film won the BAFTA Award for Best Short Animation and the Annie Award for Best Animated Short Subject.

A Matter of Loaf and Death is a suspenseful, romantic high-action murder mystery, with Wallace and and the ever-trusty Gromit starting a new bakery business, Top Bun.  Gromit learns that a number of bakers in town have been mysteriously disappearing, and tries to solve the case before Wallace ends up a victim himself.  The mystery involves a new love interest for Wallace, Ms. Piella Bakewell, who is a bread enthusiast and former pin-up girl for the “Bake-O-Lite” bread company, as well as, for the first time, a cute sweetheart for Gromit: Ms. Bakewell’s charming little French poodle, Fluffles.  The very urgent question now is: will Gromit be able to discover the identity of the Cereal Killer before poor Wallace ends up becoming the next ghastly victim?

A Matter of Loaf and Death: Big Trouble at the Mill

The full-version of A Matter of Loaf and Death can also be viewed here.

Slide Show: A Matter of Loaf and Death

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

Please Share This:

Share

So Many Days Like This: Loneliness

So Many Days Like This: Loneliness

Loneliness is a very touching 3-minute animated short film from the BBC/Northern Ireland series called Days like This, produced by Evelyn McGrath and animated by Fran Power.  In the film, the proprietor of a bookshop sits all alone in his little shop most of each day.  His patience is severely strained by the few people who do come in, because almost all of the time they just want to look and look, not buy.  However, at the very end of the film, the shopkeeper finds redemption in the most unlikely of places.

So Many Days Like This: Loneliness

Please Share This:

From CCTV to MTV: Paper on the Cheap

From CCTV to MTV: Paper on the Cheap

If bands could get to No. 1 on the charts for ingenuity rather than record sales, then the amusingly irreverent unsigned trio, The Get Out Clause, would win hands down. The English indie band  exploited a legal loophole to make an innovative video for their single Paper on the cheap.

We wanted to produce something that looked good and that wasn’t too expensive to do,” says guitarist Tony Churnside, 29, who met the other band members at The University of Salford in Manchester. Desperate to make a video for their new single Paper, but with no budget to hire a crew, the Manchester guys decided to let the state do the filming instead. The band used footage from some of the many CCTV surveillance cameras stationed around their home city of Manchester to create their own music video. The Get Out Clause played in front of CCTV cameras at 80 locations (out of the 13 million CCTV “security” cameras currently deployed throughout England), including at Deansgate, on a bus, on a zebra crossing and in the Castlefield Amphitheater. They then approached the companies who owned the cameras and used England’s Freedom of Information Act to obtain the footage.

The images were then pieced together and used as the video for one of the band’s songs, Paper. James Thomson of the band said, “You can’t help but go somewhere and not see one of these CCTV cameras, so we just thought we’d regurgitate what was available to us.” Tony Churnside, the band’s guitarist, said: “Legally, you are supposed to be able to get this footage back as it is information that is held about you. The vast majority of these places didn’t respond, so there was only a few we managed to get footage from in the end.” In all, the band had played in front of 80 CCTV cameras, and managed to get a quarter of the tapes back. The video ended up showing the band playing in 20 different locations throughout Manchester.

The Get Out Clause: Paper

The BBC Interview: From CCTV to MTV

TechnoratiTechnorati: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Please Bookmark This:

Share

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,457 other followers

%d bloggers like this: