Tag Archives: 1861

Men of a certain age …

W. H. Auden called the mid-twentieth century The Age of Anxiety. It was the title of a book-length epic poem that won him a 1948 Pulitzer Prize, and it depicted his perception of the loneliness and isolation of the mid-twentieth century.  (I have not read it.)

Auden set it in a bar in New York City.  (He actually immigrated there in 1939; many casual poetry readers are unaware that he had dual citizenship with Britain and America.)

I wonder what Auden would think of the early 21st Century, here at his adopted home. I t started with the September 11 terror attacks and has arrived at a pandemic that has killed 443,000 Americans (along with nearly 94,000 back in his native Britain).  Evictions and unemployment have predictably risen right along with the deaths.

And America seems the closest now to civil war since … the actual Civil War began in 1861.  (We did, after all, see one side storm the Capitol to attack its democratically elected government.)

I’ll bet our anxiety could give Auden’s a run for its money.




“There are two things which cannot be attacked in front: ignorance and narrow-mindedness.”

“There are two things which cannot be attacked in front: ignorance and narrow-mindedness.  They can only be shaken by the simple development of the contrary qualities.  They will not bear discussion.”

— Lord John Dalberg-Acton in an 1861 letter, published in Lord Acton and His Circle, 1906

 

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