WH Auden Then and Now "The Quest".

I had the notion, It takes a thief to catch a thief watching USAWatchdog presented by Greg Hunter today. Looking for a poem about such a notion the Gods of Google offered up the quest by WH Auden.


My own response to the Poem is very much in the grey space that Du Champs told us all about.
I wonder what others who read this Auden poem take away from it I read it as about now the attached PDF contextualises it into the body of Auden’s Work and the time it was written how similar the reactions of the readers of it back then might have been.



 Globalisation Un-Entangled. (Work in Progress, Danger Poet at Work)

 shadows cast from secret whispers, taps on streams of digital Imprints what oppressor does not despise what oppression will not censor and misdirect
Secretive cabals of liberal political correctness

 Self-censored fearing the exile of dissentGchq Nsa Kvd , hacking whos democracyWhat democracy, sings with the voice of explosions

Tripartate accords of old, a Gold Standard. As Piggs Shit Brics and Lutherean Shards profer Gaping anuses and Calvanist certainties Divine providence and eminent domain 

 Democracy perverted.
Union now as then in ´38, current quarrelsMr Striets Union and Mr OrwellsNiggersNot counting Niggers, the other´s not like ussix hundred million disenfranchised, is it more today?

Globalisation Un-Entangled. (Democracy Work In Progress

Eliza with rogerian inscrutability 
‘hears the confession of the mal-contents
A mirror held up before cosmetic application
Globalisation and Internationalism confused
despotism´s nature is to abhor any say
save that of its own momentary pleasure;
it annihilates all intermediate situations
between boundless strength on its own part,
and total debility on the part of the people.


Author: rogerglewis

https://about.me/rogerlewis Looking for a Job either in Sweden or UK. Freelance, startups, will turń my hand to anything.

1 thought on “WH Auden Then and Now "The Quest".

  1. Quest Poetry: W. H. Auden’s “The Quest”
    Read the excerpt from W. H. Auden’s Tolkien and his Critics (under Document Repository), where Auden discusses his elements of the quest. Consider how they differ or compliment Campbell’s elements of the quest. Next, read “The Quest” by W. H. Auden, also under Document Repository. Note that Auden uses shifting sonnet structure (14 lines) throughout each section. Try to decipher the overall meaning and intent of each section. Consider tone, structure, syntax (punctuation, for example), speaker, situation, setting, language (diction), repetition, patterns, symbols, and rhyme scheme. Don’t be alarmed if this is your first exposure to poetry; just discuss what you think the poem means and how it makes you feel.

    Next, respond to the following: What happens in each section? How does that section relate to the elements of the quest as you know them through your experience with Auden, Campbell, and our classroom discussions? Is Auden different than Campbell? Please be sure to discuss each of the twenty sections. You may use numbers or bullet points to organize your response, but please write in complete sentences with proper diction and grammar. This response is due by Friday, October 10th.
    Posted by Jennifer Brachfeld at 6:36 AM
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    Jesse NadelmanOctober 11, 2014 at 10:26 AM
    1. What Happens in each section?
    *Each following section is in chronological order

    1) In this section, Alice, or the character, is contemplating her feelings, her tone. She also steps foot out of a door, which appears to be some sort of step into the light.

    2) They are in a situation in which they are faced with an option of if they should give the one who poisons medicine.

    3) Here, two friends have broken up their relationship and are no longer friends, because of one or each of their betrayals of each other.

    4) This section is stating feelings and emotions of the loss of a dear friend.

    5) In this section, the character is reflecting back on his childhood life as he looks at his old house and old room in the house.

    6) In this section, the main character is expressing his feelings for his hometown, and his child-hood city.

    7) Here it is talking about his troubles, about how he had been in grief, and made the wrong decisions which had brought him to pain and emotional sorrow.

    8) This section expresses how he is in a deep emotional time, trying to pay back for his sins and be released from his state of current guilt.

    9) This section shows that he is trying to learn and get to be a better person.

    10) This section he is expressing his feelings towards an ancient story; giving examples on how it is similar to the situation he is in.

    11) This section is about the characters love life, saying the events involving his personal happenings with another individual.

    12) This section is explaining the thoughts going through the parents heads as they let their daughter go into the arms of her man, the man she loves and their worries about this occurring.

    13) I believe that this section is about how the man is signing off on a piece of paper, joining or signing up for a certain event that he may be nervous about.

    14) In this section, I believe that the different groups and classifications of people are falling into place; each classified people being placed into a category for their actions.
    In this section, they are explaining a certain way that things are done, a way that is correct, right and the proper way to do certain things in the society.

    15) In this section, there is a man that lucks out, by getting the beautiful women because of his hair color.

    16) This section is about a man in which he does all things right, helps others, and saves the day most times, getting the leisurely of being ‘The Hero’.

    17) Here, this section explains a certain event that takes place, in which only some go forth on the adventure while others sit back and watch.

    18) This is the beloved adventures that the men forth seek to go on, and towards the end, Wives and other virgin women come upon.

    19) The events in this section are strictly regarding the activities of certain waters; the way they move, and their actions.

    20) This section is about a certain garden in which it is magical, opening up for all. All dogs, flowers and people come upon and have glorious times in this special garden.

    2. How does that section relate to the elements of the quest as you know them through your experience with Auden, Campbell, and our classroom discussions?

    Each section relates their own way to the elements of the quest, because each section gives an example of the element. For example, each section has a plot that has relates to all of the elements.

    3. Is Auden different than Campbell?

    No, Auden is not different than Campbell, they have some differences but they are basically the same.


    Olga KiyanOctober 17, 2014 at 8:06 PM
    I. The Door
    Tone – Desperate, scared, anticipation
    Internal structure – abab/acca /dedffe
    Poetic devices – metaphors, allusion
    Language – In the paragraph below
    External structure- Sonnet
    Speaker – The poet and people reading the poem
    Situation – Stepping through the door
    Setting – Wonderland
    In this section of the poem, the Door represents the events in our past, present, and future. In the poem, it says, “Out of it steps our future, through this door”, which means exactly what it says – from the things we do comes our future. “Great persons eye it in the twilight for a past it might so carelessly let in” would represent when people look back at what happened in the past and yearn for it to return or happen again, usually when they are dying. “We pile our all against it” would stand for when we fear what will happen next and try to prevent it from taking place, and “beat upon its panels once we die” would mean trying to remain alive so that more things will continue to go on in our life. In the section where Auden talks about how Alice saw through the door and cried because it was small, I think he is trying to say that, sometimes, we will see what lies ahead for us, but won’t be able to obtain it because of obstacles in our way.

    II. The Preparations
    Tone – preparatory,
    Internal structure – abba / cddc / efefgg
    Poetic devices – metaphor,
    Language – In the paragraph below
    External structure – Sonnet
    Speaker – The people making the preparations
    Situation – Making preparations for the adventure
    Setting – I don’t quite know, could be anywhere
    In this section, the preparations would represent the things we would once we started to sense that something was going to occur in our life or we are preparing to head off on an adventure. “In theory they were sound on Expectation, had there been situations to be in: Unluckily they were their situation” serves to say that, when we prepare for situations, often we think that we are set, but, in reality, the preparations are futile and worthless, like “giving a poisoner medicine”.

    III. The Crossroads
    Tone – philosophical, reminiscing, begging
    Internal structure – aabcbc / eefgfg / hijkhikil
    Poetic devices –metaphor
    Language – In the paragraph below
    External structure – Sonnet
    Speaker – A person who has just parted with a friend.
    Situation – Letting go of friends, letting them take their own path
    Setting – The crossroads where we meet new people
    In this section, crossroads represent the points in our lives where we run into and meet new people. “Two friends who embraced here and are gone, each to his own mistake” shows that each person will end up following his or her own path in the end. “So at all quays and crossroads: who can tell these places of decision and farewell to what dishonor all adventure leads” states that no one knows these points of time where people come into our lives, nor when they leave or where they’ll go. Basically, I think this whole section basically says that we never know who we will be our friends and foes in the end.

    IV. The Traveler
    Tone – longing, despair, hope
    Internal structure – abab / cdcd / efg / feg
    Poetic devices – metaphor, alliteration
    Language – In the paragraph below
    External structure – Sonnet
    Speaker – The man who is being described in the poem
    Situation – Trying to find oneself in the world
    Setting – A suburb
    In this section, the speaker is talking about how a man is trying to find himself in the world. “A little fever heard large afternoons at play” is saying that he just stood off to the side hearing about what was actually going on around him. “Nor all of his weeping ways through weary wastes have found the castle where his Greater Hallows are interned” is saying that he hasn’t been able to discover his greater beliefs and principles in life, and what he is striving for. The last two stanzas are saying that his ambition to do things with his life had been “taught” to lie low and become, in a way, forgotten, and that that ambition is only waiting to be awakened again and be used to great and powerful things.


    Olga KiyanOctober 17, 2014 at 8:07 PM
    V. The City
    Tone – adventure, mocking, defeat
    Internal structure – abab / cdcd / efg / egf
    Poetic devices – metaphor
    Language – In the paragraph below
    External structure – Sonnet
    Speaker – A person in the city
    Situation – People leave village to follow their dreams, only to be “captured” in city
    Setting – The village and the city
    In this section, the village and the city represent two different parts in a person’s achievement of their quest. The village stands for when you are dreaming about your quest, and setting out to achieve it. They depart on their quest from the village, and then come to the “city”. In the city, there arises something that makes them stop going after their quest (“everyone found some temptation fit to govern him, and settled down to master the whole craft of being nobody”). That person ends up staying like that, and then, when he see other people going after their own quests, their own dreams, they laugh at them because of their past experiences, thinking that that person will also suffer the same fate as he or she had.

    VI. The First Temptation
    Tone – fear, dreamlike, weakness
    Internal structure – abab / cdcd / efg / egf
    Poetic devices – metaphor,
    Language – In the paragraph below
    External structure – Sonnet
    Speaker – The person trying to escape the forces coming after him
    Situation – Trying to escape the grief that is trying to get him
    Setting – A town
    In this section of the poem, the person is trying to escape whatever is coming after him. “Ashamed to be the darling of his grief, he joined a gang of rowdy stories where his gift for magic quickly made him chief” is saying that, because he was tired of constantly being with this grief, he started pretending that everything around him was the best that there was. “hungers into Roman food”, “town’s asymmetry into a park”, “solitude became his flattered duchess” are some examples of his fantasies. In the last two stanzas, it is saying that, whenever he let go of his fantasies, the grief and terror would come back, and, now, even death (“nights”). It also says that, whenever he came face to face with the truth, he shrank away from it and clung to his fantasies instead

    VII. The Second Temptation
    Tone – freedom, rebellious
    Internal structure – abab / cdcd / efe / ghg
    Poetic devices – metaphor,
    Language – In the paragraph below
    External structure – Sonnet
    Speaker – The person in the library
    Situation – The person is escaping the enemy’s influence that is weighing him down
    Setting – A library
    In this section, the speaker is getting rid of the influences that held him down. His library would represent the world, and the books things he is told to do and believe in. However, when the person “threw away a rival’s boring book” and “clattered panting up the spiral stair”, he is escaping the influence of the enemy and following his own path. In the last two paragraphs, the person (“the long-suffering flesh, that all the time had felt the simple cravings of the stone and hoped to be rewarded for the climb”) was “left alone” by the psychological and emotional things holding him back from his quest.


    Olga KiyanOctober 17, 2014 at 8:08 PM
    VIII. The Third Temptation
    Tone – contemplative, attentive, weakness
    Internal structure – abab / cdcd / efg / gfe
    Poetic devices – metaphor
    Language – In the paragraph below
    External structure – Sonnet
    Speaker – The person in the poem
    Situation – Stop following the things he had been told and start doing his own thing
    Setting – Could be anywhere
    In this section of the poem, the speaker is contemplating the things that he has been told and taught. He thinks about all he had seen in his life (“how princes walk, what wives and children say, re-opened old graves in his heart to learn what laws the dead had died to disobey”), and saw that the things he had been told were not necessarily true (“All the arm-chair philosophies are false”). Once he stops following these things that he has been told, he becomes “the very King of creatures”, but he still is not invincible and has things that are still going after him and trying to cause him distress (“strode someone with his own distorted features who wept, and grew enormous, and cried Woe.”)

    IX. The Tower
    Tone – two-sidedness,
    Internal structure –abbc / deed / fgh / fgg
    Poetic devices – metaphor
    Language – In the paragraph below
    External structure – Sonnet
    Speaker – The poet
    Situation – People are facing things that are coming back, not knowing what to do
    Setting – Could be anywhere
    In this section, the first stanza is saying that, because people were inexperienced, they didn’t know what to do and exposed themselves to danger and things they could’ve avoided (“a virgin made her maidenhead conspicuous to a god”). The things that were dead to the people start to return and become revived, but people are cautious and kind of scared of what they might bring. The things are not bad things, people are just trying to protect themselves, but sometimes this protection can lead to its own negative consequences (“for those who dread to drown, of thirst may die”). I think that, all in all, this section is saying that there is a happy medium in all things that are done.

    X. The Presumptuous
    Tone – presumptive, disproving
    Internal structure – abab / cdcd / efgh / gf
    Poetic devices – metaphor
    Language – In the paragraph below
    External structure – Sonnet
    Speaker – The people setting off on adventure
    Situation – The people are determining the qualities of a hero, but miss some parts
    Setting – The place of adventure
    In this section, the poet is saying that, while we will see a detail that assists a person in doing a specific task, we will often overlook other details that also assisted in addition to the original one they saw (“They noticed that virginity was needed…But not that, of those virgins who succeeded, a high percentage had an ugly face.”) Whether a person is a true hero is not who they are now, but what they experienced before (“The angel of a broken leg had taught him the right precautions to avoid a fall”). But, despite this all, people will believe they know what they are doing and will set out on their adventure, but will prove to not have the stuff for it and not be able to complete the journey (“stuck half-way to settle in some cave with desert lions to domesticity, or turned aside to be absurdly brave, and met the ogre and were turned to stone.”).


    Olga KiyanOctober 17, 2014 at 8:09 PM
    XI. The Average
    Tone – underestimation, sacrifice
    Internal structure – aabb / ccde / fgfhgii
    Poetic devices – alliteration
    Language – In the paragraph below
    External structure – Sonnet
    Speaker – The child in the country
    Situation – A country child feels unworthy of the great and exceptional
    Setting – Country
    I think that this section is about the doubt in one’s self when faced with things that you think are too good for you but are actually aren’t. People who care about us will always work hard in order to give us the best that they can and allow them to lead a better life than they themselves had (“His peasant parents killed themselves with toil to let their darling leave a stingy soil”). But the pressure that they also bring upon the person can cause that person to become afraid and feel like they don’t deserve it (“The pressure of their fond ambition made their shy and country-loving child afraid no sensible career was good enough, only a hero could deserve such love.”) In the end, the person will not go after what other people worked hard to make possible for them because they don’t feel worthy of it.

    XII. Vocation
    Tone – disbelief, temptation
    Internal structure – aba / cda / ace / fefef
    Poetic devices – metaphor
    Language – In the paragraph below
    External structure – Sonnet
    Speaker – The person “cheated” of suffering
    Situation – A person thinks he needed to suffer, but has to earn that he wasn’t
    Setting – Could be anywhere
    I think that this section is about how feel we should be one of the people made to suffer, and when we don’t suffer, we find some way to challenge the will of other people. “Incredulous, he stared at the amused official writing down his name among those who request to suffer was refused” is saying that there will be people who feel they need to be punished but will not have to go through it. “There was still a place among the tempters for a caustic tongue” is saying that these people will feel cheated of what they feel they deserved, and will start to punish other people (“test the resolution of the young with tales of the small failings of the great, and shame the eager with ironic praise.”) In the last stanza, it is saying that the person will eventually understand that he wasn’t meant to suffer.

    XIII. The Useful
    Tone – factual
    Internal structure – ababc / dedf / eggef
    Poetic devices – metaphor
    Language – In the paragraph below
    External structure – Sonnet
    Speaker – The poet
    Situation –Things along our path will help or force us to move on
    Setting – The path of the adventure
    I think that this section is about how things that we encounter along the way will always help or sometimes force us to keep on moving forward. The stanza from the poem that best supports this is the third one: “By standing stones the blind can feel their way, wild dogs compel the cowardly to fight, beggars assist the slow to travel light, and even madmen manage to convey unwelcome truths in lonely gibberish.”


    Olga KiyanOctober 17, 2014 at 8:10 PM
    XIV. The Way
    Tone – stereotypical
    Internal structure – aa / bb / cc / dd / ee / ff / gg
    Poetic devices – metaphor,
    Language – In the paragraph below
    External structure – Couplets
    Speaker – The person describing the stereotypical hero
    Situation – Defining the perfect hero
    Setting – The hero’s place of adventure
    I think that this section is about the stereotypical image of a hero that we have in our head. “Fresh addenda are published every day to the encyclopedia of the Way” is saying that the image of the perfect hero is constantly changing. The third through sixth stanza all give examples of what the perfect hero would do. The last stanza, “And how reliable can any truth be that is got by observing oneself and then just inserting a Not?” is saying that these stereotypes that we set are not going to be true.

    XV. The Lucky
    Tone – luck, doubt
    Internal structure – abcacb / efgegf / hh
    Poetic devices – repetition
    Language – In the paragraph below
    External structure – Sonnet
    Speaker – The adventurer
    Situation – Whether or not things that happen by chance are affected by the quester
    Setting – The path of the adventure
    I think that this section is about the fact how things will happen for a reason, whether we expect them to or not. The entire first stanza, “Suppose he’d listened to the erudite committee, he would have only found where not to look; Suppose his terrier when he whistled had obeyed, it would not have unearthed the buried city; suppose he had dismissed the careless maid, The cryptogram would not have fluttered from the book” is saying that things will often happen for a reason and in seemingly unimportant points in time. We will think that these things that happen were of no fault of our own, and, when we fail, “Hence Failure’s torment: ‘Was I doomed in any case, or would I not have failed had I believed in Grace?’ ”

    XVI. The Hero
    Tone – surprise, disapproval,
    Internal structure – abab / cdcd / efe / ghg
    Poetic devices – dialogue,
    Language – In the paragraph below
    External structure – Sonnet
    Speaker – People who are judging the quester
    Situation – The judgers are looking at the hero, saying he doesn’t look the part
    Setting – When the quester reaches his final destination once finished with quest
    In this section, it appears as though the hero is being questioned about his adventure (“He parried every question that they hurled”). The people who are asking the quester about his adventure, they come to the conclusion that he is not a “good hero” (“ ‘He looks too like a grocer for respect’ ”). However, as always, they only look on the outside and not on the inside, so they don’t get to see other parts of the hero (“The only difference that could be seen from those who’d never risked their lives at all was his delight in routine and details”).


    Olga KiyanOctober 17, 2014 at 8:11 PM
    XVII. Adventure
    Tone – fear, caution
    Internal structure – abab / cdcd / efg / efg
    Poetic devices – metaphor
    Language – In the paragraph below
    External structure – Sonnet
    Speaker – The poet
    Situation – The fear of conquering the large unknown
    Setting – The path of the adventure
    I think that this section is about the fear of most people of conquering the large unknown. The entire first two stanzas are describing the people, how they will step out of an adventure when scared, and how other people will view them. In the remainder of the poem, the motive for their abandonment of the adventure is explained. “The crowd clung closer to convention” and “The Nameless is what no free people mention” are saying that people will fear what they don’t know and will stay away from it.

    XVIII. The Adventurers
    Tone – tragic, mourning
    Internal structure –abba / cccc / dee / fgf
    Poetic devices – simile, repetition, metaphor
    Language – In the paragraph below
    External structure – Sonnet
    Speaker – The adventurers
    Situation – The questers are rotting away yet still spreading joy in their suffering
    Setting – The path of the adventure
    I think that this section is about how the questers will suffer during and after their journey. “They emptied out their memories like slops, which made a foul marsh as they dried to death, where monsters bred who forced them to forget the lovelies their consent avoided” is saying that, on the journey, the quester basically forgot everything he knew in his life before he set off, and “monsters” eat up these past memories. However, they will still “seed out into their miracles”, spreading his experiences in a positive light so that people will later on revere them and wish the best for them and for all related to him.

    XIX. The Waters
    Tone – desperation,
    Internal structure – abaccd / efeggh / ii
    Poetic devices – metaphor, alliteration
    Language – In the paragraph below
    External structure – Sonnet
    Speaker – The quester
    Situation – Men are trying but unable to find the longed-for answer to a question
    Setting – By the waters
    I think that this section is about how the solution or ultimate boon to a quest will often favor the good over the evil. “Baiting with the wrong request” would represent whether a person has good intentions or bad intentions. The last couplet is saying that not everyone is able to phrase the “question”, also known as the problem during the quest, so, therefore, not everyone will be able to find the solution to the “question”.

    XX. The Garden
    Tone – conclusive, turning point
    Internal structure – abab / cdcd / efg / fge
    Poetic devices – metaphor, alliteration
    Language – In the paragraph below
    External structure – Sonnet
    Speaker – The quester
    Situation – This is where the adventure ends
    Setting – Garden
    In this section, the hero’s journey comes to end and his life returns to normal. “All journeys die here” is what it says – the garden symbolizes the place we arrive to once we finish our quest. “Felt their center of volition shift” would be saying that their center of attention shifts from their quest to the normal life they usually live.


    Olga KiyanOctober 17, 2014 at 8:11 PM
    #2. Each section relates to an element of the quest, and each section describes its specific section. For example, the last section represents the return home.

    #3. I believe that, while Auden and Campbell both describe elements of the quest, they are different. They differ mainly in their styles of expressing it. Auden uses poems, while Campbell uses novel style writing. Also, Auden uses more metaphors and indirect examples than Campbell does.

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