WYSTAN H. AUDEN, English poet born (d. 1973); an Anglo-American poet, regarded by many as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. His work is noted for its stylistic and technical achievements, its engagement with moral and political issues, and its variety of tone, form, and content. The central themes of his poetry are: personal love, politics and citizenship, religion and morals, and the relationship between unique human beings and the anonymous, impersonal world of nature.
Aside from graduate school courses in English literature, where life is taken very seriously, the question about the great English poet that most people want answered is: Did Auden write a poem about a blow job or didn’t he? The answer is yes, he did. The poem, written in 1948 to amuse himself and his friends, is actually called “The Platonic Blow,” although it appears in unauthorized form as “The Gobble Poem,” hardly a title that a poet of Auden’s quality would have chosen. After Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts published the poem without the poet’s permission in 1965, “A Platonic Blow” was issued in “a Trade edition” of 300 copies and “a Rough Trade edition of five numbered copies, each with beautiful slurp drawings by the artist Joe Brainard.” The poem’s first two lines suggest its flavor: “It was a Spring day, a day for a lay, when the air / Smelled like a locker-room, a day to blow or get blown.” Auden proudly admitted authorship in 1968.
Until he was fifteen he expected to become a mining engineer, but his “passion for words” had already begun. He wrote later: “words so excite me that a pornographic story, for example, excites me sexually more than a living person can do”.
Auden and Christopher Isherwood sailed to New York in January 1939, entering on temporary visas. Their departure from Britain was later seen by many there as a betrayal and Auden’s reputation suffered. In April 1939 Isherwood moved to California, and he and Auden saw each other only intermittently in later years. Around this time, Auden met an eighteen-year old poet Chester Kallman, who became his lover for the next two years (Auden described their relation as a “marriage” that began with a cross-country “honeymoon” journey). In 1941 Kallman ended their sexual relations because he could not accept Auden’s insistence on a mutual faithful relationship, but he and Auden remained companions for the rest of Auden’s life, sharing houses and apartments from 1953 until Auden’s death. Auden dedicated both editions of his collected poetry (1945/50 and 1966) to Isherwood and Kallman. In 1940-41, Auden lived in a house in Brooklyn Heights which he shared with Carson McCullers, Benjamin Britten and others, and which became a famous center of artistic life.