Autograph Letter Signed W. H. Auden to Stella Musulin with Typescript W. H. Auden "Stark Bewölkt" 1971-10-19
AuthorAuden, W. H.
  • Mayer, Sandra
  • Frühwirth, Timo
PublisherAustrian Centre for Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage, Vienna 2021
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Cite this Source (MLA 9th Edition)Andorfer Peter, Mayer Sandra, Frühwirth Timo, Mendelson Edward, Neundlinger Helmut and Stoxreiter Daniel. Auden Musulin Papers: A Digital Edition of W. H. Auden's Letters to Stella Musulin. Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage, Austrian Academy of Sciences, 2022, Acessed Please activate JavaScript and reload page!.


Poem dedicated to S_M_

Die Baronin
Stella Musulin
Wien IV 1030
Neulinggasse 26/14

Oct 19 th .

℅ Spender
15 Loudoun Rd
London. N.W.8

Dear Stella;
Were very disappointed that we didn't
see you again before we left. You seem
to have stayed in England much longer than
This morning a copy of Austria arrived
from Faber's. : The illustrations, which I hadn't
seen before seem excellent
Overleaf a poem I want to dedicate to
you. Firstly , because of its subject and,
secondly, because it is written in an imitatin
of a medieval Welsh metre called a Cywydd,
Return to New York on NOv 1st.

(for Stella Musulin) I'm no photophil who burns
his body brown on beaches:
foolish I find this fashion
of modern surf-riding man.
Let plants by all means sun-bathe,
it helps them to make their meals,
exposure,though,to ultra-
-vi[]etviolet vapids the brain,
bids us be stodge and stupied.
Still,safe in some sheltered shade,
or watching through a window,
an ageing male,I demand
to see a shining summer,
a sky bright and wholly blue,
save for a drifting cloudlet
like a dollop of whipped cream.
This year all is unthuswise:
O why so glum,weather-god?
Day after day we waken
to be scolded by a scowl,
venomous and vindictive,
a flat frowning Friday face,
horrid as a hang-over
and mean as well: if you must
so disarray the heavens,
at least you might let them rain.
(Water is always welcome
for trees to take neat and men
to make brandy or beer with.)
But,no,we don't get a drop:
dry you remain and doleful
in a perpetual pique.
Fowls mope,flowers are wretched,
the raspberry-canes are forced
into phyllomania:
to ignore you,not be cross,
one would have to be either
drunk,lit on amphetamines,
or a feverish lover.
Being dead sober all day,
I find your bearing boorish,
by four in the afternoon
frequently close the curtains
to shut your shabbiness out.
Who or what are you mad at?
What has poor Austria done
to draw such disapproval?
The Beamterei,it's true,
is as awful as ever,
the drivers are dangerous,
standards at the Staatsoper
steadily decline each year,
and Wien's become provincial
compared to the pride she was.
Still,it's a cosy country,
unracked by riots or strikes
and backward at drug-taking:
I've heard of a dozen lands
where life sounds far more ugsome,
fitter goals for your disgust.
(I needn't name them,for you,whose
glance circumspects the whole globe,
ken at first hand what's cooking.)
Have done! What good does it do,
dumb god,just to deject us?
Foul our function may be,but
foul weather won't reform it.
If you merely wish our world
to mend its ways,remember:
when happy,men on the whole
behave a wee bit better,
when unhappy,always worse.