Political Poems: W.H. Auden's 'Spain 1937'

Seamus Perry and Mark Ford

In their second episode, Mark and Seamus look at W.H. Auden's ‘Spain’. Auden travelled to Spain in January 1937 to support the Republican efforts in the civil war, and composed the poem shortly after his return a few months later to raise money for Medical Aid for Spain. It became a rallying cry in the fight against fascism, but was also heavily criticised, not least by George Orwell, for the phrase (in its first version) of ‘necessary murder’. Mark and Seamus discuss the poem’s Marxist presentation of history, its distinctly non-Marxist language, and why Auden ultimately condemned it as ‘a lie’.

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Read more in the LRB:

Seamus Heaney: Sounding Auden

Alan Bennett: The Wrong Blond

Seamus Perry: That's what Wystan says

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