Love through the ages

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Modernism – 1890’s – 1940’s

Post-modernism – 1945- present

H Auden (1907-1973)

Auden was born in England but later became an American citizen. He is known as a poet, literary critic, essayist and worked on documentary, plays and other forms of performance. His work is very highly regarded. He employs a variety of tone, form and content and often engages with moral and political issues, with his main themes being love, politics, citizenship, religion and morals. He was Professor of Poetry at Oxford University.

Lullaby from Another Time (1940)
Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.
Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant enchanted slope
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope;
While an abstract insight wakes
Among the glaciers and the rocks
The hermit's carnal ecstasy.

Beauty, midnight, vision dies:

Let the winds of dawn that blow

Softly round your dreaming head

Such a day of welcome show

Eye and knocking heart may bless,

Find our mortal world enough;

Noons of dryness find you fed

By the involuntary powers,

Nights of insult let you pass

Watched by every human love.

Certainty, fidelity

On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell
And fashionable madmen raise
Their pedantic boring cry:
Every farthing of the cost,
All the dreaded cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.

1953 - Elizabeth II is crowned Queen

Modernism – 1890’s – 1940’s

Post-modernism – 1945- present

Philip Larkin (1922-1985)


arkin is widely regarded as one of the best poets of the second half of the 20th Century. Although he is often painted as a pessimistic character, his love poetry contains poignant and affective imagery. Larkin was also a well known novelist and music critic, especially of jazz. He declined the offer of the Poet Laureate in 1984 and despite his success continued to work in Hull University Library for most of his life.
Broadcast – from Whitsun Weddings (1964)

Giant whispering and coughing from

Vast Sunday-full and organ-frowned-on spaces
Precede a sudden scuttle on the drum
'The Queen', and a huge resettling. Then begins
A snivel on the violins:
I think of your face among all those faces,

Beautiful and devout before

Cascades of monumental slithering,
One of your gloves unnoticed on the floor
Beside those new, slightly-outmoded shoes.
Here it goes quickly dark. I lose
All but the outline of the still and withering

Leaves on half-emptied trees. Behind

The glowing wavebands, rabid storms of chording
By being distant overpower my mine
All the more shamelessly, their cut-off shout
Leaving me desperate to pick out
Your hands, tiny in all that air, applauding.

1959 – 1975 - The Vietnam War

Post-modernism – 1945- present

Post- Colonialism – 1950’s - present

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