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92Y's Read By

Nov 15, 2020

Alan Hollinghurst on his selection:

I read “September 1, 1939,” the date being that of Hitler’s invasion of Poland, which marks the start of the Second World War. It’s a poem Auden himself was dissatisfied with, he cut it, changed some important wording, and later refused to reprint it, feeling it was intellectually dishonest. Nonetheless, in its magnificent rhetoric and its address to issues which continue to press upon us, it retains a power to move, to frighten and to reassure. It’s a poem which comes often to my mind these days, as so many things around us get worse and worse, faster and faster, and the good things that happen take on an ever greater freight of hope.

“September 1, 1939” at

Music: "Shift of Currents" by Blue Dot Sessions // CC BY-NC 2.0