Typed Memoir Stella Musulin "In Retrospect" 1985-11-29--1990-03-28

AuthorMusulin, Stella
  • Mayer, Sandra
  • Frühwirth, Timo
  • Grigoriou, Dimitra
PublisherAustrian Centre for Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage, Vienna 2021
Source Information
  • State Collections of Lower Austria
  • Stella Musulin (Depot)
  • St. Pölten
  • 1985-11-29
  • TEI Logo
  • RDF metadata
IIIF Endpoint(s)
Cite this Source (MLA 9th Edition)Andorfer Peter, Elsner Daniel, Frühwirth Timo, Grigoriou Dimitra, Mayer Sandra, Mendelson Edward and Neundlinger Helmut. 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, amp.acdh.oeaw.ac.at .

In Retrospect.
     Since then the Auden industry has not been idle.  An
excellent biography was published1 and in this the Austrian
period was dealt with but not locally researched.  Edward
Mendelson edited Auden´s early works and wrote superb commentaries.
There has been a biography of Chester Kallman.  Writers of PhD
theses have been out here and have shaken us up, particularly
Michael O´Sullivan of Trinity College, Dublin who - not speaking
a word of German - organised a full-scale exhibition and an
international symposium in Vienna.  The editor of this volume
Peter Müller had brought Michael out to see me at Fridau in the
preceding year;  now he came again, and after the closure,
exhausted, he spent a long weekend in the country to recover.
We dug out ancient files containing original Auden manuscripts,
letters, personal notes and newspaper cuttings, and now we tried
to winnow the wheat from the chaff.  After some general discussion
it seemed to us all that there remain certain aspects of Auden´s
life in Lower Austria which are not on record, or where they are,
not from the worm´s eye view.  As an older man he was happier
here than anywhere else:  he felt at home.  He was at Kirchstetten
not only during the summer, as is often said, but with
interruptions for five months, depending on his engagements.
In the course of these years he was still highly
creative.  So that it might, we thought, be of value to put some
of those things on record which would otherwise be lost.  Not
for the first time self-criticism was expressed, but while doubts
concerning self-importanceand sell-out of friendship were not
entirely banished, the view prevailed that the local witness
needs to be put on paper.  Scholarship is at work elsewhere;
here a few appendices and footnotes are on offer.
     Auden´s opinions on biographies of creative artists in general
were, as Humphrey Carpenter pointed out, highly contradictory.
Again and again he said that the private life of poets and other
people engaged in creative work is none of the public´s business
but he also said:`The biography of an artist, if his life as a man
was sufficiently interesting, is permissible, provided that the
biographer and his readers realise that such an account throws no
light whatsoever upon the artist´s work."  And "I do believe,
however, that, more often than most people realise, his works
may throw light upon his life."

1 Humphrey Carpenter: W.H. Auden, a Biography (Houghton Mifflin
Company, Boston 1981.)

                             - 2 -

    Carpenter´s book calls itself "a first biography", and the
author expressly restricts his aims:  "It is not a work of literary
criticism".  It may also be felt to lack an analysis of some
fundamental questions:  about the depths of the poet´s personality,
his "otherness" (to confine this to his homosexuality would be to
oversimplify) and the basis of his all-important relationship
with Chester Kallman.  As a starting point, "Early Auden"1 which
presents and comments on the poetry, drama and prose up to 1939
is most valuable, and Edward Mendelson will produce further works
of scholarship.
     What would Wystan Auden say if he could read "Auden in Love"
by Chester´s old college friend and last-minute stepmother Dorothy
J. Farnon?2  In July 1985 the Sunday Times published a list of
recommended holiday reading.  The assessment of "Auden in
Love" was a model of compression:  "emetic but compulsive".
I more than once came up against Auden´s idée fixe about the
irrelevance of the poet´s private self, and asked him one day:
"So no rotting apples in the desk drawer?"  "No, no rotting apples."
"And if you have an attack of the trots and interrupt your work?"
"That would make no difference at all."  Chester´s sole explanation
was that it was "a tick like any other", and that in any case he
was totally inconsistent.  Be that as it may, if the effect on the
general public was judged as emetic, Auden´s nausea can be
imagined.  All the same, it is a fascinating book, and for people
who knew the two men only in the later years of their lives, does throw
light on apparently conflicting phenomena and makes their actions,
and Chester´s character in particular, more comprehensible.
    When Auden first met Kallman he was just 32 and already a poet
with an established reputation, respected and even revered on
many a campus.  Kallman was an 18 year old undergraduate,
brilliant, beautiful, focalpoint and leader of a crowd of young
intellectuals of both sexes.  He was a Dorian Grey figure,
sparklingand damned, hero and victim, immature and over-ripe,
sensitive and heartless, a man capable of loving and of being

1Edward Mendelson: Early Auden, Faber and Faber 1981. Also:
W.H. Auden: Collected Poems, ed.by E.Mendelson, Faber 1976, and
The English Auden, same Editor, Faber 1977.
2Dorothy J Farnon: Auden in Love. Simon & Schuster, NY, Faber
                                                        London 1984.

                            - 3 -

loved but who was already - though Auden did not know it -
addicted to promiscuity.  In literature and music his knowledge
was, for his age, above average, but when important examinations
loomed a kind of petulant mood would come over him and he would
fail to appear.
     Chester never wanted to earn his living, and all his life he was
supported financially by other people, particularly by Auden.
He usually promptly lost what he was given because he was
perpetually being robbed by seamen picked up on the wharfs of
New York.  By one of them he was robbed of three months´ income
in succession.  Or else he gave it away:  no matter what actually
happened, the money left his pocket.
That winter evening in the Esslingasse when one of Chester's
"friends" went off with what cash he could put his hands on, was,
I realised much later , no isolated occasion but routine, as it
were a calculated hazard.
ultimately, he took with him to Athens 80,000 sch. in notes
(proceeds of the sale of a building plot) and lost it all on the
way, this mishap was almost a foregone conclusion.
    That the sexual relationship between Auden and Kallman
ceased as far back as 1941 is well known:  from that time on -
there is evidence in the poetry - sex and love became, for Auden,
two separate matters.  He felt married to Chester (when he was
not Mother) for the rest of his life, and he wrote that Chester
was the only person who, emotionally and intellectually, was
wholly indispensable to him.
     Like it or not, this statement has to be accepted with all
the weight it carries.  It was never possible, even in the
Austrian era, to keep Chester in purdah for long, and when there
was a visitor from Athens at Hinterholz 6 there could be tension.
Auden gave orders to Yannis Boras in the abrupt tones of a
colonial Englishman of yore speaking to the "boy", and when I
asked one day at lunch: "Where is, er....?" he said with a

                              - 4 -

smirk of satisfaction: "I sent him up on to the roof to mend tiles."
But fundamentally nothing had changed between them:  this explains
Auden´s intense anxiety over the death of Boras in a car accident in
Lower Austria, and his fear communicated itself to me as I searched
for Chester in Vienna.  It was nearly Christmas, what on earth
would become of him, distraught and alone?  (He had in fact not
gone to Austria after all, but had not let Auden know.) There
followed the gloomy summer of 1969 when Chester was sunk in deep
depression while Wyśtan had a full work programme, and when he
told me he could hardly think how Chester would get through the
summer1 this was indeed Mother speaking.
     What was it in Chester Kallman that made him so entirely
indispensable to Auden?  Perhaps the question is impossible to
answer;  some may hold it to be inadmissible, or attempts to find
points of reference impertinent.  Others again may find the whole
subject unappetising.  But to anyone with an interest in psychology,
in the processes of creativity in general and in those of Auden
in particular, there is no way of getting round this essential
relationship.  It may, after all, come to be seen as one of the
most curious in the history of English literature.
     In their love of music, of opera above all, Kallmanwas in
the lead.  He was a minor poet who wrote because he needed to do so,
but his output was slight.  Yet in many spheres which were of
intense interest to Auden he had little, sometimes nothing to offer:
German literature (though Chester picked up languages with uncommon
facility; Wystan´s spoken German was execrable but his compre-
hension unerring), the history of cultures, religion and liturgy,
translation.  When I was with them Wystan did not only most of the
talking, but of the asking as well; his great charm lay in his
alert interest in other people´s work, and he would draw one out
on the odder backwaters of Austrian history.  This side of him comes
out in a letter dated 6 July 1970.  When the historian Friedrich
Heer and Auden, both entranced, struck sparks off one another all
afternoon, Kallman was silent.  Kallman lacked Auden´s sensitivity
to places and people, to the genius loci;  perhaps it was just
that he was an American, and a New Yorker, while Auden never

1 refers to 1976 text.

                         - 5 -

lost his roots in Europe.
    On his own ground, operatic libretti, Chester Kallman was
still in good running order, and when the Rake´s Progress was put
on in Vienna he wrote a letter to Die Presse protesting sharply
against the cuts made by the producer.  But of that
conversational brilliance which old friends have described there
was little sign.  A scene comes to mind: Auden was away, and Chester
asked me to meet him for lunch at a restaurant off the Kärntner-
strasse.  A young man whose background clearly lay somewhere
within the crime belt near the Prater was with him, and soon the
youth sand I were engrossed in conversation, while Chester feeling
out of it, sulked.  Immediately after coffee it seemed best to
leave them.   Chester´s intelligence and wit had not deserted him
but they had too little scope, and, perhaps owing to his carp-like
appearance, he was liable to be underestimated.  He was good-natured,
in course of time even affectionate, hospitable and amusing.  He
looked after Auden devotedly and we know that he was able to banish
Auden´s loneliness as no one else could.  His misfortune was that
he lacked those qualities which Auden possessed and which decide
between success and failure.
     It cannot, all the same, have been easy living on a long-term
basis with Auden in New York while attempting, even though
fitfully, to develop his own personality and talents.  Putting up with Auden´s
fads, his insistence on punctuality and the rigid routine was one
thing;  to grow up, to mature in the shadow of this oversized tree
was another.  There was not enough light.  So he fled, but without
Mother there was no way he could live at all.
     It is essential, in the light of what happened later on, to
remember Auden´s generosity.  His biographer mentioned the two boys
whose further education was financed by Auden:  I can confirm this
as we lived next door to them for a few years.  They were the sons of
an artist;  both made rapid careers in industrial management.  But
there were other examples.  Wystan had telephoned and asked me to
meet him and Chester at the Operncafé - the much-missed café-
restaurant next to the Opera, now a car salesroom.  They were waiting
for Balanchine to join them after the performance, but we waited in
vain and finally gave up and went home.  There was a fourth at our
table, a silent young man who, Chester said in an undertone, was
a student of technology and Wystan was helping with his studies.

                       - 5a -

It turned out that he lived not far from my flat so we drove
off together, and he suddenly broke his silence to ask:  "Who
is this Professor Auden - is he well known?"
     There was a brief flurry after the 1968 uprising in
Czechoslovakia.  Towards the end of Auden´s summer residence at

                            - 6 -

Kirchstetten the question cropped up whether he would be willing
to lend the house to a Czech refugee and his wife.  By mid-
October Auden was in England, and he wrote from London, c/o
Heyworth, 32 Bryanston Square:

Dear Stella, Got back from Oxford yesterday and found your
letter waiting.  1) I think I ought to take the couple in,
but I must leave it to you to decide whether they are O.K.
If they are, all rooms, including my study (which can´t be
heated) are open to them.   2)  How much money will they need
to keep going?  And how shall I make the arrangements for
payment.  3) Will they be able to find work or emigrate
before I return in April, when I´m afraid there will not
be room for them?  4) I´m worried about how they will get
gas cylinders for cooking from Neulengbach, since, presumably,
they have no car.  I expect someone in the village will help.
5)  If and when they come, I must know in advance so that I
can write a note to the Burgomeister..." (sic).

    In the end nothing came of it, but the letter is quoted
here because it is so characteristic;  the follow-up is even
more so.

        77 St. Mark´s Place                          Nov 6th

                Dear Stella,
             Many thanks for your letter.  Of course,
             selfishly, I´m rather relieved.  How horrid
             one is!
             The U.S. is grim.

     Great generosity (these factsare known
to no more than two or three people) combined in Auden´s
character quite readily with his legendary stinginess in the
small things of everyday life such as stamps or cigarettes.
"Life" magazine, he told me one day with a beaming smile, had
just paid him 5,000 dollars for an article.  "I´m thinking
of building on a diningroom."  "Very good idea" I said,
"but for a start I shall smoke your cigarettes for the rest of
the afternoon."  I very much doubt whether I did.  On the other
hand he would order things to be sent out from Vienna without
a second thought.  After his car accident he sent me a message
and I drove out to Kirchstetten.  He was dishevelled and cross.
It´s a curious thing, he said, but the first chap who
takes any notice of you when you´re carried into hospital is not

                          - 7 -

the doctor but the man from the accounts office who wants to
know how you propose to pay for your treatment.  No, he said,
he didn´t really need anything and Chester would arrive shortly,
but he was running out of gin.   If I´d be an angel and ring
up Wild on the Neuer Markt and ask them to send a few bottles out -
he told me the brand name - that would be splendid.
     When the friendly voice on the end of the line had repeated
the order Iasked when they would be making their next delivery
in the area around Kirchstetten.  "Oh but we never deliver out
there" said the voice, "We make a special trip for the Herr
Professor."  Startled, I exclaimed "For goodness´ sake, that must
cost him a packet - you can buy that brand of gin in Böheimkirchen!"
"Certainly you can" said the voice which now sounded amused,
"but why do we have to worry our heads over the way a Herr
Professor flings his money around?"  I liked the "we".
    What was so American about the kitchen?1
    When fitted kitchens first came in the Austrians called
them "American" - the term is now as extinct as "Russian" tea
but must still have been common parlance in Kirchstetten.
     There was a tidy line-up consisting of fridge, sink, low
cupboards providing a good working surface,a corner cupboard
the interior of which swung out, and a gas stove.  Both men were
very proud of the kitchen and it became Chester´s habitat.
But the whole point of a modern kitchen:  the labour-saving
working area, ample storage space, accessibility, was totally
cancelled out by the permanent clutter.  It was a matter of
principle with Chester to have all cooking ingredients conveniently
to hand, which meant that nothing was ever put away, and where
his loving eye saw method, even the least fussy visitor could
only see a shambles.  But an interesting shambles owing to the
exotic nature of the preserved foods and spices which Chester
brought with him.  There was for example a dried leaf which,
detected by me in a casserole, was said to have no flavour but
to serve as a stimulus or bridge to other flavours.
    It was clear from the beginning that the two of them were
not so much drinking as eating their way into their graves owing

1  Wystan Auden, On Installing an American Kitchen in Lower
   Austria, in Homage to Clio, (Faber and Faber 1960).

                           - 8 -

to the enormous fat content of some of the dishes.  I remember
my horror as I watched a sauce being prepared in the mixer before
it was re-heated to accompany the roast duck.  It consisted of
equal parts of rendered down duck fat, and cream, and would have
sustained a miner at the coal face for an indefinite period
of time.  If they could possibly helpit, of course, neither
Wystan nor Chester ever walked a yard.

x x x x

     Whether or not - and Chester was convinced that this was so -
the business about alleged arrears of income tax shortened Auden´s
life, must be left open.  The "Declaration" to the tax authorities
in which a great poet patiently explains how poetry comes to be
written must be unique.

                     Declaration. 1
     My position is very simple: one pays income tax where one
earns money, that is to say in my case, as a writer writing in
English, in the United States and in England.  In Austria I
earn not one groschen, I merely spend schillings.
You maintain that I possess a "material interest" in Austria,
by which you presumably mean a "financial" interest.  That might
conceivably be the case if I had to say to myself:  "I must go
to Austria because I can only work in Austria!"  But that is not
the case.  I have lived in many places in many different countries
and was always able to work wherever I might be.
     I naturally have a "personal" interest in Austria, otherwise
I should not come here.  The landscape is pleasing, and I find
the Austrians whose acquaintance I have made, friendly ansd
    You say correctly that I once received an Austrian prize
for literature.  This was a great honour of which I am very
proud.  You cannot however seriously believe, Gentlemen, that I
calculated:  "If I continue to go to Austria maybe I shall be
given a prize"?  Until it was awarded to me I had never heard
of this prize.  It is equally clear that I cannot receive it a

1Translation from the German text which is a manuscript, not a
letter.  An English original is not known to exist and it is
assumed that Auden destroyed his draft.

                               - 9 -

second time.  You also go on to say that a road in Kirchstetten
has been named Audenstraße after me.  That was a very kind gesture
on the part of the local council, but it cannot be maintained
that I profit from it financially.
    Further, you say with truth that I have written several poems
on Austrian themes.  To this I would like to make three

          1.  I have never, in Austria, received so much as one
          penny for my poems.  One or two of them have been trans-
          lated into German, but in these cases the translators have
          received the money, not I.
          2.  I believe you are not clearly aware how poetry comes
          to be written.  What is generally taken to be the subject
          matter is only a viewpoint, an occasion whereby certain
          thoughts about nature, God, history, mankind etc. may be
          expressed which the poet may have had in mind for a very
          long time.  I wrote, for example, a poem to commemorate the
          20th anniversary of the death of Josef Weinheber.
          Fundamentally however the poem is concerned with quite
          different things.  First of all it is about the love
          which every poet, whatever his nationality, has for his
          mother tongue, and secondly about what happened after the
          war in the countries which were defeated, i.e. not only
          in Austria but in Germany and Italy.  Again:  in 1964
          I wrote a poem with the title "Whitsunday in Kirchstetten"
          because it was where I happened to be.  But the place is
          unimportant.  In reality the question in this poem is
          what, for a Christian, is the meaning of the Feast of
          Pentecost.  And this is valid for all countries in the
          same way.
          3.  I believe you do not clearly recognize a poet´s (Dichter
          financial situation.  If he is successful, a novelist
          can make a good deal of money.  A poet (Lyriker) cannot,
          even if he is very well known, because he is only read
          by a minority.  By far the greater part of my income
          comes not from the sale of my volumes of poetry but from
          book reviews, translations, lectures etc., activities
          which have nothing to do with Austria.  And while we are

                         - 10 -

          on the subject of translation:  you rightly say that
          I have a great interest in German and Austrian literature -
          I may add in music as well - but I do not have to come
          to Austria in order to read or to hear them.
     You see from all this that the arguments brought
forward by you for subjecting me to payment of income tax are not
valid.  The most pertinent argument against it is that in the
course of one year I always stay under six months in Austria
and never spend more than three months here consecutively.
     A word in conclusion: if this in my view entirely unjustifiable
nonsense does not cease, I shall leave Austria never to return,
which would be very sad for me and perhaps too for the shopkeepers
of Kirchstetten.  One thing, Gentlemen, I cannot conceal from you:
if this should happen it might give rise to a scandal of worldwide
                                                W.H. Auden.

1 You ask why I have made over my half of our property in
Kirchstetten to Mr Chester Kallman who is not related to me.
Mr Kallman is my heir.  I have no children and for years past
he has been my literary collaborator.  Jointly, we have written
five new opera libretti, "The Rake´s Progress, "Elegy for Young
Lovers", "The Bassarids" and "Love´s Labours Lost".  And
together we have made new translations of "The MagicFlute",
"Don Giovanni", "Die Sieben Todsünden", "Mahagonny" and
"Archifanfaro".  I am now 65 years old and must reckon with all
eventualities such as a heart attack.  As you know better than
I, in the event of sudden death great difficulties arise for the
heirs to landed property, particularly in a foreign country.

1 The German text was typed on a different machine, and the
separate page joined to the Declaration.

                      - 11 -

     "Every day for the past year" said Chester "I have stood
outside his door in the early morning, afraid to go in."
     This was later.  Now, Auden was dead, the voice issuing
from the car radio had just said so.  A few days ago we had
talked about his reading in the Society for Literature on 28
September.  Unfortunately, I said, I was obliged to drive to
Linz and to spend the night there, but they were welcome to use
my Vienna flat.  It was maddening and I would just as soon
put it off.  No, said Auden, mustn´t do that, one should stick
to one´s commitments.  "And you won´t be missing much" he
reassured me, "you´ve heard it all before."  We would meet again
in a few days´time and then he would tell me all about it.  He was
not sure about the flatbut he would let me know in good time.
On 24 September he wrote a note to say that he did not need the
flat, he would go to the Hotel Altenburgerhof.  The handwriting
is ragged.
     Linz already lay far behind, the car radio went on muttering
to itself unheeded until the familiar voice of Friedrich Heer
came through, reading one of his book reviews.  It was consoling
in a world where, suddenly, a signpost was missing.  What are
you howling about, I asked myself, what gives you the right to
mourn for Wystan?  Think of Chester.  It was impossible not to
think of Chester:  it was not so much a question how much he
would grieve over the death of Wystan, as how he would survive
at all.  Leaving the autobahn at St.Pölten I drove straight to
Kirchstetten;  it seemed to be just possible that he might have
arrived in the meantime.  But the green shutters were closed
and there was no one about apart from the wall-eyed dog, an
exceptionally hideous mongrel belonging to Frau Strobl, which
barked in an irritating falsetto.  He barked from a position close
beside me while I wrote a note and stuck it in the chink between
the door´s shutters, and he was still barking as I shut the
garden gate behind me.
     The answer to my note was a telephone call from Frau Strobl:
Herr Kallman said, would I come over to tea the next day?
     That was the Sunday.


     The sittingroom seemed to be full of people.  Chester was
sitting on the corner-seat facing the door, where Auden always
used to sit, every chair appeared to be occupied and two young
men were sitting on the floor.  Chester hurried
across the room, hugged me and said "The whole thing´s terrible,
you have to help me."
     I was introduced to the others.  Mrs. Thekla Clark and her
daughter had come up from Florence as soonas they heard the
news;  there was Frau Maria Seitz, headmistress of the high school;
Herr Enzinger the mayor
of Kirchstetten, the film scriptwriter Adolf Opel, and the young men.
Clearly, the meeting to discuss the funeral arrangements was
not proceeding smoothly.  The mayor looked annoyed, Frau Seitz
looked worried and Mrs Clark bewildered.  There were, of course,
language difficulties.  Mayor Enzinger spoke not a word of
English and the Clarks no German, while the headmistress had a
certain command of English but did not feel up to acting as
interpreter and adviser in one;  Chester´s German was perfectly
    The root of the problem lay on a deeper level, where two
separate cultures collided head on.  Chester was barely coherent,
but he managed to explain his point of view.  He loathed from
the bottom of his hearteverything in the way of pompes funèbres.
He wanted to bury Auden, he said, quietly and privately and, if
it could possibly be managed, on Tuesday.  He had already informed
Wystan´s brother Dr. John Auden, Stephen Spender and others
of the arrangements and asked them to arrive, if not tomorrow,
then on Tuesday morning at the latest.  On the other hand the
mayor of Kirchstetten, he went on, wanted to lay on a really big
show with brass bands and all the rest of it, and what was more,
on the Saturday to give as many people as possible the chance to
come.  The Ministry of Education and the provincial council of
Lower Austria were to be represented, and as the last straw the
hearse was to drive up to the house.  He would not allow any of
this, he said:  "I can´t bear it and I won´t have it."
     Mayor Enzinger drew a deep breath.  The first thing we had
to realise, he pointed out, was that the body had not yet been


released by the authorities.  In all cases where the cause of death
is not wholly clear certainformalities are obligatory, and even
intervention at a high level would not work miracles.  Everything
takes time.  And how could anyone expect it of him, the Bürgermeister,
that he should refrain from notifying the Ministry and the Cultural
department of the Council of the death of Professor _Auden?  It
was as much as his job was worth.  Now Frau Seitz spoke.  The
inhabitants of Kirchstetten, she believed, would hardly bury a dog
in the manner proposed by Herr Kallman, let alone a great poet.
     Chester Kallman´s position was entirely comprehensible - to
some of us.  To him, an American of Jewish origin and a non-believer,
the whole pomp and circumstance of a traditional Austrian funeral
was abhorrent.  Where prominent personages are concerned, there
would certainly be the local brass band, and delegations representing
the voluntary fire brigade, the federal railways, the veterans´
association and others besides, and the gamekeepers would blow
their horns and wish him good hunting in the Elysian fields.
To Chester´s mind such folksy rituals were as foreign as the burial
rites of the Incas.  He did not know that not very long ago in
Lower Austria, Auden as a bachelor would have been accompanied in
the funeral procession by a "bride" dressed in white.  He was
unable to understand that his intentions were an intolerable affront
to the population of Kirchstetten.  In his despair, it certainly
never occurred to him that Auden himself would very likely have
been entranced at the idea of a slap-up funeral with all the
trimmings - one can almost hear his Olympian laughter - followed
by a hearty meal at the inn where he had so often had his lunch.
As it turned out, Chester got no marks in local opinion for this
finale either, as the meal consisted of Leberkäs with vegetables:
this consisted of fried slices off a loaf made of a flabby substance
which is neither liver nor cheese, vaguely related to the
Frankfurter sausage.  It is a
homely, juicy meal all too familiar to every Austrian;  and it is
cheap. There would be much talk of this also after all was over.
For their part, the local people were forgetting that Chester was
probably in financial straits - not that this would have been taken
as an excuse.
     For a moment the discussion had come to a standstill.
The young men who took no part in it and conversed in whispers,

                              - 14 -

fetched more beer, Frau Strobl walked in and out and rolled a
baleful eye on us as she spoke into Chester´s ear.
    The points at issue were not only When and How Much;  there
was also the matter of the church service and the prayers at the
graveside.  Many people in Austria had assumed Auden to be of the
Roman Catholic faith;  he had of course remained a member of the
Anglican and Episcopalian churches.  The misunderstanding arose
from his regular attendance at mass in the parish church and his
friendly relationship with Father Lustkandl, the parish priest
referred to in "Whitsunday in Kirchstetten".  Auden asked
Lustkandl´s sucessor for permission to be buried in the churchyard,
and his wish was acceded to.   Evidently, the next logical thing to do
was to approach the chaplain to the British Embassy in Vienna,´
the Revd. Bruce Duncan, and ask him to officiate.  What form of
service this should be - there could be no question of a funeral
mass - left everyone present at a loss.  We agreed at last that
it ought to be some kind of ecumenical ceremony held jointly by
the two clergymen, but that first of all, the plan must be put
before Dr John Auden.
     At this juncture Chester Kallman withdrew his insistence on
 the impossibly early date for the
funeral.  The room had become much too warm, the oxygen was
running out and Chester would not be able to stand much more
pressure.  The most urgent objective wasquite simply to
free him from our burdensome presence.  Once everyone had agreed
Auden´s relations must be told immediately that the funeral
had been postponed, the moment had come to dissolve the meeting.
Mrs Clark undertook to telephone to London and Frau Strobl would
drive her to the Post Office.  Chester asked me to talk everything
over with Frau Seitz and Herr Enzinger and reach definite conclu-
sions.  We all stood up, Chester came across the room to me and
spoke in an undertone.  He was completely exhausted, he said,
he couldn´t stand much more.  "I´ll do anything you want, you
must just try to hold the others in check." Finally he said
"It´ll be all right, I´m crammed full of tranquillizers, all I
need is a bit of a rest."  He embraced me warmly and left the room.

                               - 15 -

     Frau Seitz drove the mayor and myself to her house at the
other end of Kirchstetten, and we settled down to talk things over.
I remember that I brought upthe subject of Chester Kallman's
phobia about hearses.  He would have preferred the hearse not to
reverse up the lane to the garden gate, but that the coffin be
carried down to the road, and he would have liked it still better
if the undertaker's men could have carried it most of the way to
the church.  But I flinched from the very thought of the heavy
coffin being borne along a steep downhill lane over uneven,
stony ground;  the hearse must be brought up the lane so that the
bearers only had to cross the small garden.

     Herr Enzinger had an entirely different problem on his mind,
concerning the safety of the property of the deceased poet.
We all know of cases, he said, where after someone has died objects
of greater or less value mysteriously disappear from their usual
place and no one is able to suggest where they got to?  Quite so,
I agreed, particularly in a case like this where it would be hard
to say where anything had its usual place.  The mayor asked me
to make sure that at least the upstairs room where Auden
worked was locked to protect the manuscripts..  It was in fact locked and sealed by a notary
public, but subsequently Herr Enzinger's forebodings were justified.
A Cheshire cat-like process of gradual disappearance of half-
remembered objects began which has continued, if sporadically, ever
since.  Books, supplied from time to time to replenish the
depleted stock in the "cave of making", have vanished.

     Bürgermeister Enzinger now for his part gave up his insistence
on the Saturday, and Thursday was settled upon so as to avoid
attracting too much public attention.  Unnecessary civic display
was struck off the programme.  Slowly, the arrangements began to
take shape, and on my return to the house I was able to tell
Chester that a compormise had been found:  funeral on Thursday;
brass band as irreducible token of civic (self)-respect;  hearse
to back up to the garden gate.  Not one of us, however, thought of
asking who was to pay for the band, and this omission was to bring
trouble in its train.  In due course the local council sent a bill
to Chester, who was furious.  His view was that the brass
band had been forced upon him, consequently he could not be

                               - 16 -

expected to pay for it.  He was so enraged that he could not wait
to see the last of Kirchstetten.  With little pause for thought
or for consultation - with, for example, the Austrian Society for
Literature - he sold the house and garden against annuity.

     On the eve of the funeral the party from England kept Chester
and each other company in Kirchstetten.  Dr John Auden was there,
Sir Stephen Spender, David Luke from Christ Church, Oxford, Sonia
Orwell, the Clarks and Chester's current Greekfriend, a warm-
hearted creature exuding tongue-tied sympathy with all around him.
Charles Monteith, Chairman of Faber and Faber, arrived next

     Partly in the house, partly in the garden, the gradually
assembling crowd of mourners stood about waiting.  Chester was
composed and wore his grief with a certain dignity.

     The coffin, its head end raised, was in Auden's bedroom.
As I went in, his spiritual presence struck me with great force.
It was Wystan Auden, out-distancing now all his human frailty,
remote and unknowable as perhaps he always was.  He had written the
finest love poem of the century, and it might have been of
him that Spender wrote:  "I think continually of those who were
truly great."

    Chester shut the sittingroom door.  Surprised and slightly
embarrassed we stood and listened to the "Death of Siegfried".
Then we left the house.

     The rich variety among the human contacts of Auden and Kallman,
public and private, was quite adequately reflected in the long
defile now slowly winding its way through the village to the church.
English and Austrian cultural institutions were represented,
but England would only turn up in force at the Poet's Corner in
Westminster Abbey.  Among the local population the sense of
occasion may have been patchy.  A nobleman who had often exchanged
hospitality with the two poets asked me over lunch to fill in his
very vague picture of who and what Auden was.  The underworld of
Athens had sent one of its own, but so had Vienna:  Hugi, or
Hugerl1, callboy and reformed convict was there too;  wearing a
tidy suit, he was accompanied by his wife.  From a position about
halfway down the procession a male figure could be observed
weaving his way with determination and skill row by row towards
the front until the desired place was reached immediately behind

1"Glad", March 1965.

                           - 17 -

the chief mourners.  It was "he-whose-name-we-never-mention";
or if it was, Chester had said, Auden crossed himself.
     At the lowest point in Kirchstetten where the roads divide
the procession halted while the coffin was transferred from the
hearse to a hand-drawn bier.  At this point the Church took charge
and the procession resumed its steady pace;  photographs exist
which were taken during the brief interval.
     To British ears quite unremarkable, the ecumenical service
was much talked about in Austrian circles because nothing of the
kind had been known before.  The Revd. Bruce Duncan, today Rector
of Crediton in Devon, can remember little about the general
circumstances but confirms that he used the Book of Common Prayer
and the long reading from the first Letter of St.Paul to the
Corinthians, chapter 15, verses 20-58.  Beyond that, all he recalls
is his difficulties with Chester.

↕ ↕

     Reaching for my Authorised Version, for surely no one would
have dared to use any other, on second thoughts I also took out the
New Testament as translated into German by Martin Luther.  After
reading the English text through very slowly, and then a second
time, I did the same with the Lutheran Bible and lost in thought
compared the two, verse by verse.
     "How nice to see you" said Auden who was sitting on one of the
white garden chairs with the red covers, "it´s a bit einsam here.
And I wanted to write and tell you that the technical word for
buddle is Erzwaschtrog.  I hope there is an equivalent German
euphemism for `senior citizen´.  Oh and adit is Stollen, and although
I may be wrong, I guess concentrating mill is Vereinigungsmühle."
     "What a mercy you´ve told me" I said, relieved.  "I should have
had to dig up such frightful words in the British Council library.
But do you think people will understand all that about the primary
and secondary worlds, or will they get muddled?"
     "It´s perfectly simple" said Auden.  "The initial impulse to
create a secondary world is a feeling of awe aroused by encounters,
in the primary world, with sacred beings or events."
     "There is one glory of the sun" I heard myself say, "and
another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars:  for one

                              - 18 -

star differeth from another in glory."
    "Ah" he said, "you´ve been reading Corinthians One, chapter 15.
`Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die.´ Chester and I took
that bidding rather too literally."
     "Who would know where that familiar quotation comes from?"
I wondered.
     "I would" said Auden.  "I´ve been looking up the German text.
Have you ever compared the Authorized Version with Martin Luther?"
     "Funny you should ask that" I said.  "It´s one of the things
I forgot to talk to you about.  `Be not deceived:  evilcommunica-
tions corrupt good manners.´ He renders that as `Lasset euch nicht
verführen!  Böse Geschwätze verderben gute Sitten.´"
      "Very neat" said Auden happily.  I like `evil chatter´
better than `communications´."
      "The publishers" Isaid "have a rather heavy-handed way of
printing the more quotable bits in bold-faced type  But in the next
verse Luther seems to flounder.  `Werdet doch einmal recht nüchtern
und sündiget nicht!´" Do be a bit sober for once, he pleads.  And
sin not.  King James´s translators fancied that St Paul cried out
`Awake to righteousness!"
     "Who knows what he really said?"
     "Luther´s language is very fine as he reaches the climax:
`Siehe, ich sage euch ein Geheimnis... ´"
     But Auden was speaking.  "Behold, I shew you a mystery:
we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment,
in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump:  for the trumpet
shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we
shall be changed.´"  And with that he vanished.  Now wide awake, I
put the two books back on their shelf and settled down to re-type
Auden´s speech at Neulengbach.

Sehr verehrter Herr Landeshauptmann, Ladies and gentlemen:
I hope you will pardon me if I speak somewhat personally.  I do so,
not out of vanity...