ADVANTAGES

That is the critique–one that Auden himself made very strongly in later years. But here is the defense: Auden wrote, “We must love one another or die” not because it expressed the most accurate moral or social theory. He said it because he wanted to grab the stranger who read his verse and communicate a disinterested, ethical love as the world was engulfed by hatred. It was an impartial love that extended to anyone, Jew or German, gay or straight, who was “composed … / Of Eros and of dust.” To put that down on paper took courage, and maybe the right response is assent.

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