Autograph Letter Signed W. H. Auden to Stella Musulin 1969-06-10

AuthorAuden, W. H.
  • 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
  • 1969-06-10
  • Hinterholz 6
  • 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, .

Sent at:
  • Postamt Kirchstetten (post office Kirchstetten)
Sent from:
  • Kirchstetten
Sent at:
  • 1969-06-10
Transmitted by:
  • Hauptpostamt 1030 (main post office 1030)
Transmitted at:
  • Vienna
Transmitted at:
  • 1969-06-11
Received by:
Received at:
  • Neulinggasse 26


Die Baronin
Stella Musulin
Wien III
Neulinggasse 26/14


Dear Stella:

Saturday will be fine. Shall
look forward to it,



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issue proper instructions?[]Not,certainly,
our global archons []hose toplofty[]slogans
   are as off the m[]rk as their syntax[]
   is vague.(They w[]uld be figures of fun,if

very clever little boys had not foun[] it[]
amusing to build devices for them,more
   []pt[]at disasse[]bly th[]n any
   old fire-seewing theogoni[]monster.)

To be responsible fo[] the ha[]iness
of the[]Universe is not [] sin[]cure:
   in[]elite l[]nds []r gener[]tion
   m[]y[]e c[]lled[]to []t[]for a[]iscipline

that outpeers the mon[]s,[] []ay of obe[]ience,
[]overty []nd - good[]ief[] - perh[]s ch[]tity,
   yet in this World's ill-weathered open,
   a fresh v[]nture p[]efigur[]d in folk-tales

[]s the []uest Perilous. []or such wayfarers,
w[]at should we write []o give them the nourishment,
   warmth and[]shelter they'll be in need of?
   []othing o[]scene o[]unpleasant: only

the unscarred overfed[]enjoy Calvary
 as a verbal event. []r satiric: no
   scorn will ashame[]he[]rsary.
   Nor shod[]ily m[]de:[]to give a stunning

display of concinnity[]and elegance
is[]the le[]t we[]can[]d[],and its domin[]nt
mood shoul[] be that[]a[]r[]iv[]l.
   Let[]us hymn the[]s[]ll []ut journal[]wonders

of Nature and familie[]and then finish
on[] serio-comic note []ith legends[]
   of ultimate eucatastrophe,
   regeneration bey[]n[] the w[]ters.

[]ut perhaps you think[]poems are as foolish
as most poets,and woul[] rather[]spend your s[]re
   moments romping around in Cantor's
   logical paradise o[] beseeching

such knotty points []s[][]an we hang a robber
w[]o is not there? or []h[]t is the color of
   the []ber Three. []hy not? []ll []le[]sures
   come from []od. []in[]e I am your godfather,

let me close this letter with some worl[]ly []axi[]s:
[]e []lad[]your[]being is[]unnecessary,
   then,turn your toes out as[]you w[]lk,de[]r,
   and remember who y[]u are,a[]pender.

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[][]h[]nk[]or[]b[]ozy godf[]thers"
y[]u[]wrote i[]ur[]gue[]t-book,w[]ich was flattering:
   tough []'ve reache[]the years when discretion
   calls for a[]yearl[]me[]ical check-up,

who[]I[]to[]avo[]ch f[]r[]a Christian[]
baby,far le[]s offer []o[]tly pl[]titudes
   to a young man[]I[] y[]te[]ti[]es it
   was diff[]rent: th[] old could be helpful

when[]they could[]ni[]e[]vis[]ge[]th[]uture
as a []me[]le settle[]lan[]c[]p[]t[]ir children
   would m[]ke the[]s[]e[]sense of []they did,
   l[]ughing and w[]ing at the same stories.

[]hen she[]p and go[]t[]s[]e[]sy[]to recognize,
local f[]una:[]good m[]t []ile[] the shoemaker
   ta[]ing[]eare of[]t[] vill[]ge nin[]y,
   []vil Count ffoul[]es who[]in[]hi[] tall d[]n[]n[]

indulged in si[]ist[] []e[]riciti[] []cxentricities.
[]t I speak from ex[]i[]nce,[]ow could I
   say th[]t to you,[]to []an't reme[]ber
   when everyone tr[]velled by r[]ilway

and the[]p[]orr[]were []t they were used to being,
the cre[]to[]s[]of[]w[]ot,as []w they are,
   a[]expensive n[]i[].([]ody[]
   has dared suggest[]g[]ssing them,but someone

surely will,) []o[]n't need []e to tell you what's
[]in[] o[]:[]the []ck[]r[]tic media,[]
   joint with []nd[]e-[]ryer gossip,
   process and ven[]without intermission

all To-[]y's ugly []rets[] []g[]e Imageable
no longer,a fe[]tu[]less anonymous
   thre[]t[]from[]ehi[]d,[]-[]orrow has us
   gallowed shitless: if what is to h[]ppen

occurs a[]r[]ing to[] what []hu[]ydidesdes
defined[]as 'hu[]n',[]'ve had[]it,are in for
   a disaster that []o []our-letter
   words will tardy. I've beheld in nightmares

(wh[]sn't?) lik[]ly a[]ominations: seething
[]havior[] sinks,the :uses s[]uttering,
   s[]elly,from eutr[]hiod []elicon,[]
   the []itches Sab[]th on Garbage []ount[]in,

Herod's[]ti[]ge[]etic engin[]ers commanded
to[]ify[]th[] []o[]ts.[]y[]then,[]ith
   []y luck,the ta[]gible Me shoul[]
   be mineral,too s[]t in my habits

to distinguish light from d[]rkness and valued,
in current prices,at three-dollars-fifty:
   []ut you could well be there if what is
   ri[]ely is not pr[]mptly done. Yet who can