So far this week, I’ve been working through W.H. Auden’s juvenilia, the stuff that he wrote in school and before he got published or famous and whatnot.  It’s this one, edited by Katherin Bucknell.  I don’t know quite how many I’ve read this week, but at least three.  My impression is that at least some of them are good (perhaps all of them are?) and that they’re not as good as the stuff he’s actually famous for.  Which makes sense, but I don’t trust my judgment very much.

My favorite so far is one titled “Envoi”.  He wrote at least three poems with this title, though, so I’ll just post the entirety of the poem here and hope that’s not too illegal.

Take up your load and go, lad
And leave your friends behind
Whistle a song and be glad
For now their thoughts are kind

Do not pause to reason why
You sin, as sin you must
There’s no time before you die
Live—ere you are only dust.

Turn you not to left or right
Bear your sorrows well
Though the road be blackest night
And the last end but Hell.

Go! This ugly world to rouse
And, for your mother’s sake
Make for yourself the youthful vows
Which you are bound to break.


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