Wystan Hugh Auden (; 21 February 1907 – 29 September 1973) was an English-American poet. Auden's poetry was noted for its stylistic and technical achievement, its engagement with politics, morals, love, and religion, and its variety in tone, form and content. He is best known for love poems such as "Funeral Blues"; poems on political and social themes such as "September 1, 1939" and "The Shield of Achilles"; poems on cultural and psychological themes such as The Age of Anxiety; and poems on religious themes such as "For the Time Being" and "Horae Canonicae".He was born in York, grew up in and near Birmingham in a professional middle-class family. He attended English independent (or public) schools and studied English at Christ Church, Oxford. After a few months in Berlin in 1928–29, he spent five years (1930–35) teaching in British public schools, then travelled to Iceland and China in order to write books about his journeys.
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Stop thinking this is all there is. . . . Realize that for every ongoing war and religious outrage and environmental devastation and bogus Iraqi attack plan, there are a thousand counter-balancing acts of staggering generosity and humanity and art and beauty happening all over the world, right now, on a breathtaking scale, from flower box to cathedral. . . . Resist the temptation to drown in fatalism, to shake your head and sigh and just throw in the karmic towel. . . . Realize that this is the perfect moment to change the energy of the world, to step right up and crank your personal volume; right when it all seems dark and bitter and offensive and acrimonious and conflicted and bilious . . . there's your opening. Remember magic. And, finally, believe you are part of a groundswell, a resistance, a seemingly small but actually very, very large impending karmic overhaul, a great shift, the beginning of something important and potent and unstoppable.
It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire which those who love generously know. We all know people who are so much afraid of pain that they shut themselves up like clams in a shell and, giving out nothing, receive nothing and therefore shrink until life is a mere living death.
The world is full of hundreds of beautiful things we can never possibly have time to discover, and there is no time to be unkind or envious or ungenerous, and no sense in enslaving the mind to the trivialities of the moment. For you can be equal to the greatness of life only by marching with it; not by seeking love but by giving it, nor seeking to be understood but learning to understand. And when it is all over, there will be an agony of remorse because one spared the effort and did not make more of that little span of opportunity; and knowing reality at last, who knows but that one will look back with unassuageable regret upon one's pitiful little faith.