AUDEN (W.H.) Autograph manuscript of his poem 'A Free One', on the reverse of an autograph letter signed to C. Day-Lewis, [?March 1929]
Lot 6
AUDEN (W.H.) Autograph manuscript of his poem 'A Free One', on the reverse of an autograph letter signed to C. Day-Lewis, [?March 1929]
Sold for £2,375 (US$ 3,724) inc. premium

Lot Details
AUDEN (W.H.)
Autograph manuscript of his poem 'A Free One' (here untitled), comprising fifteen lines opening: "Watch any day his nonchalant pauses, see/ His dextrous handling of a wrap as he/ Steps after into car, the beggars envy"; written on the reverse of an autograph letter signed ("W") to C. Day-Lewis, praising his poem 'Letter to W.H. Auden': "I liked the poem immensely and was duly flattered. 'On a northern fell within the sound of hammers' is exactly my phantasy of myself. It's a little hard that my little weakness should be exposed in dedicatory verse. 'Nothing to birds, anatomy to men.' is fine"; and adding: "When the possessive love overcomes the creative I feel very unhappy about being obscure. It's not the bad poets who are successful that one is jealous of, but the good ones like yourself whose medium happens to be a simpler one, because then one can't be superior about it. I am incredibly happy, spending my substance on strumpets and taking part in the white slave traffic. There is a poem on the back"; with two corrections to the poem, on either side of one sheet, light dust-staining but in good and attractive condition, 8vo, Fűrbringerstraase 8, Berlin, [?March 1929]

Footnotes

  • 'I AM INCREDIBLY HAPPY, SPENDING MY SUBSTANCE ON STRUMPETS': AUDEN SENDS DAY-LEWIS A POEM FROM BERLIN. This poem – later given the title 'A Free One' – was to appear in Auden's first regularly-published collection, the Poems issued by Faber in 1930; for the version as it appears here, see The English Auden, edited by Edward Mendelson, 1977, pp. 31-32, where it is dated to March 1929. The poem Auden acknowledges in his turn is Day-Lewis's 'Letter to W.H. Auden', which was to be published as an epilogue to From Feathers to Iron by the Hogarth Press in 1931. Day-Lewis had clearly just heard that it had been accepted for publication, as Auden congratulates him: "It is splendid about the Hogarth Press". Our letter is quoted by Sean Day-Lewis, C. Day-Lewis: An English Literary Life, 1980, p. 55.

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