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Murder
Engrave this Quote Murder is unique in that it abolishes the party it injures, so that society has to take the place of the victim and on his behalf demand atonement or grant forgiveness; it is the one crime in which society has a direct interest.
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-W. H. Auden
Engrave this Quote It's frightening how easy it is to commit murder in America. Just a drink too much. I can see myself doing it. In England, one feels all the social restraints holding one back. But here, anything can happen.
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-W. H. Auden
Music
Engrave this Quote A verbal art like poetry is reflective; it stops to think. Music is immediate, it goes on to become.
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-W. H. Auden
New Year
Engrave this Quote The only way to spend New Year's Eve is either quietly with friends or in a brothel. Otherwise when the evening ends and people pair off, someone is bound to be left in tears.
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-W. H. Auden
Opera
Engrave this Quote No good opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible.
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-W. H. Auden
Engrave this Quote If music in general is an imitation of history, opera in particular is an imitation of human willfulness; it is rooted in the fact that we not only have feelings but insist upon having them at whatever cost to ourselves. The quality common to all the great operatic roles, e.g., Don Giovanni, Norma, Lucia, Tristan, Isolde, Br?nnhilde, is that each of them is a passionate and willful state of being. In real life they would all be bores, even Don Giovanni.
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-W. H. Auden
Parenting
Engrave this Quote Anyone who has a child today should train him to be either a physicist or a ballet dancer. Then he'll escape.
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-W. H. Auden
Patience
Engrave this Quote Perhaps there is only one cardinal sin: impatience. Because of impatience we were driven out of Paradise, because of impatience we cannot return.
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-W. H. Auden
Poetry
Engrave this Quote Poetry makes nothing happen. It survives in the valley of its saying.
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-W. H. Auden
Engrave this Quote Rhymes, meters, stanza forms, etc., are like servants. If the master is fair enough to win their affection and firm enough to command their respect, the result is an orderly happy household. If he is too tyrannical, they give notice; if he lacks authority, they become slovenly, impertinent, drunk and dishonest.
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-W. H. Auden
Engrave this Quote As a poet there is only one political duty, and that is to defend one's language against corruption. When it is corrupted, people lose faith in what they hear and this leads to violence.
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-W. H. Auden
Engrave this Quote I cannot accept the doctrine that in poetry there is a suspension of belief. A poet must never make a statement simply because it is sounds poetically exciting; he must also believe it to be true.
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-W. H. Auden
Engrave this Quote It is a sad fact about our culture that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can by practicing it.
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-W. H. Auden, Foreword, The Dyer's Hand, 1962.
Politics
Engrave this Quote The belief that politics can be scientific must inevitably produce tyrannies. Politics cannot be a science, because in politics theory and practice cannot be separated, and the sciences depend upon their separation. Empirical politics must be kept in bounds by democratic institutions, which leave it up to the subjects of the experiment to say whether it shall be tried, and to stop it if they dislike it, because, in politics, there is a distinction, unknown to science, between Truth and Justice.
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-W. H. Auden
Engrave this Quote My deepest feeling about politicians is that they are dangerous lunatics to be avoided when possible and carefully humored; people, above all, to whom one must never tell the truth.
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-W. H. Auden
Pornography
Engrave this Quote There's only one good test of pornography. Get twelve normal men to read the book, and then ask them, Did you get an erection? If the answer is Yes from a majority of the twelve, then the book is pornographic.
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-W. H. Auden
Prayer
Engrave this Quote To pray is to pay attention to something or someone other than oneself. Whenever a man so concentrates his attention -- on a landscape, a poem, a geometrical problem, an idol, or the True God -- that he completely forgets his own ego and desires, he is praying.
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-W. H. Auden
Professionalism
Engrave this Quote America has always been a country of amateurs where the professional, that is to say, the man who claims authority as a member of an ?lite which knows the law in some field or other, is an object of distrust and resentment.
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-W. H. Auden
Quotations
Engrave this Quote Aphorisms are essentially an aristocratic genre of writing. The aphorist does not argue or explain, he asserts; and implicit in his assertion is a conviction that he is wiser and more intelligent than his readers.
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-W. H. Auden
Reading
Engrave this Quote A real book is not one that we read, but one that reads us.
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-W. H. Auden
Engrave this Quote Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered.
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-W. H. Auden
Relationships
Engrave this Quote You must go to bed with friends or whores, where money makes up the difference in beauty or desire.
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-W. H. Auden
Engrave this Quote Almost all of our relationships begin and most of them continue as forms of mutual exploitation, a mental or physical barter, to be terminated when one or both parties run out of goods.
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-W. H. Auden
Religion
Engrave this Quote Dogmatic theological statements are neither logical propositions nor poetic utterances. They are shaggy dog stories; they have a point, but he who tries too hard to get it will miss it.
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-W. H. Auden
Responsibility
Engrave this Quote Choice of attention - to pay attention to this and ignore that - is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer. In both cases, a man is responsible for his choice and must accept the consequences, whatever they may be.
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-W. H. Auden, A Certain World

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