Auden on Austen

There is one other author in my pack:
For some time I debated which to write to.
Which would be least likely to send my letter back?
But I decided I’d give a fright to
Jane Austen if I wrote when I had no right to,
and share in her contempt the dreadful fates
Of Crawford, Musgrave, and Mr. Yates.

You could not shock her more than she shocks me;
Besides her Joyce seems innocent as grass.
It makes me uncomfortable to see
An English spinster of the middle class
Describe the amorous effects of `brass’,
Reveal so frankly and with such sobriety
The economic basis of society.

W. H. Auden – Extracts from Letter to Lord Byron, one of his long poems, first published in 1936.

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