Autograph Letter Signed W. H. Auden to Stella Musulin with Typescripts W. H. Auden "August 1968" and "Elegy" 1968-10-04
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!.

Die Baronin
Setella Musulin
1040 Wien IV
Neulingasse 26


       AUGUST I(968

The ogre does what ogres can,
Deeds quite impossible for man,
but one prize is beyond his reach:
The ogre cannot master Speech.
About a subjugated plain,
Among its desperate and slain,
The ogre stalks with hands on hips,
While drivel gushes from his lips.


Dear Stella,
Terribly sorry about last Sunday.
Since I had no idea when we should be
able to get to you, I thought it was unfair
to the kitchen not to cancel.
Have a nice winter and will see you, I hope,
early in April

(In Memoriam Emma Eiermann. ob
ob.Nov 4th,I967)

Liebe Frau Emma,
na,was hast Du denn gemacht?
You who always made
such conscience of our comfort,
Oh,how could you go and die,
as if you didn't know
that in a permissive age,
so rife with envy,
a housekeeper is harder
to replace than a lover,
and die,too,when we
were thousands of miles away,
leaving no one there
to prune and transplant before
the winter cold should set in.
Good witch that you were,
Ssurely you should have foreseen
the doom that your death
would spell for your cats and ours:
all had to be put away.
You came with the house,
you and your brother Josef,
Sudeten deutsche, Sudetendeutsche,
made homeless paupers when Czechs
got their turn to be brutal:
but catastrophe
had failed to modernise you,
Child of the Old World,
in which to serve a master
was never thought ignoble.
Children of the New,
we had to learn how to live
in the older way,
well tendered and observed by
loyal but critical eyes.
From the first,I think,
you liked us but to the last
assumed most callers
knocked with some evil intent
(now and again you were right).
When guests were coming,
there was always the worry:-
would you disallow?
Greeks,in your censure,were rogues,
all teen-agers delinquent.
Nor were you ever
one yto behave your temper:
let Youth pick a fruit
or flower,out you would storm,
arms whirling,screaming abuse

in peasant German
at startled Americans
who had meant no harm,
and,after they'd gone,for days
you would treat us to the sulks.
But when in good form,
how enchanting your shy grin,
your soft cat-language:
no,no,Frau E,dear oddling,
we shall always be grateful.
After Josef died
(siblings can live in a bond
as close as wedlock),
you were all amort,your one
wish to rejoin him quickly.
You have,and we're left
with ten years to consider,
astonished at how
vivid they are to recall:
Du Gute,schlaf in Ruhe.