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Wystan Hugh Auden was born in York in 1907 and educated at Greshams School Holt Norfolk and Christ Church Oxford After leaving Oxford he taught school from 1930 to 1935 and later worked for a government film unit His sympathies in the 1930s were with the Left like those of many intellectuals of his age and he went to Spain during the Civil War intending to serve as an ambulance driver on the left-wing Republican side To his surprise he found himself so disturbed by the sight of the many Roman Catholic churches gutted and looted by the Republicans that he returned to England without fulfilling his ambition He traveled in Iceland and China before coming to America in 1939 in 1946 he became an American citizen He taught at a number of American colleges and was professor of poetry at Oxford from 1956 to 1960 He died in 1973 The Poets Craft Auden was the most active of the group of young English poets who in the late 1920s and early 1930s saw themselves bringing new techniques and attitudes to English poetry Stephen Spender and Cecil Day Lewis were the most prominent members of the new school which soon afterward broke apart Like many of his generation Auden learned from the poetic wit and irony of T S Eliot and the metrical and verbal techniques of Gerard Manley Hopkins and Wilfred Owen His English studies at Oxford familiarized him with the rhythms and long alliterative line of Anglo-Saxon poetry as well as with the rapid and rollicking short lines a sort of inspired doggerel of the poet John Skelton ca 14601529 both influenced Audens versification He learned too from the songs of the English music hall and later from American blues singers The Great Depression that shook America in 1929 hit England soon afterward and Auden and his contemporaries looked out at an England of industrial stagnation and mass unemployment seeing
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