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#QueerQuote: ”The Only Way to Spend New Year’s Eve is Either Quietly with Friends or in a Brothel. Otherwise When the Evening Ends and People Pair Off, Someone is Bound To Be Left In Tears.” – W.H. Auden

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1935, photo via YouTube

With a life filled with contradictions, English poet Wystan Hugh Auden was a moralist who drank too much, a gay man who thought homosexuality was wicked, a subversive who chose to write rather traditional, if superb verse; an eccentric who craved the status quo, obsessively punctual, but sartorially sloppy. He was stuffy and he was campy. He had many affairs, but his greatest love was Chester Kallman, who was 18-years-old when they met, and with whom Auden was sure he could enjoy a lifelong cozy marriage.

Kallman’s infidelities were a profound shock to Auden, who wore a wedding ring. He went so far as to contemplate murdering some of Kallman’s lovers. They broke up on again, off again, for years. Auden and Kallman finally got together again near the end, but without the passion Auden desired.

Auden embraced Socialism as a youth and Protestantism as an old queen. He wrote daily and his output was prolific. Auden’s The Age Of Anxiety (1947) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. In 1972, with his health on the decline, Auden left the USA, his adopted country (he had lived here for four decades). He moved to a cottage in Oxford, where he had been teaching part of each year. In September 1973, Auden left this world, taken by a heart attack after delivering a reading of his poems in Vienna, where he had an apartment. Kallman died in 1975, penniless, in Athens.

 

 


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