Tuesday, September 01, 2009

It was on this day in 1939 that Nazi Germany invaded Poland, and World War II began.

W.H. Auden (books by this author), one of my favourite poets, wrote a famous poem about this day, called "September 1, 1939." It begins:

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odor of death
Offends the September night.

Toward the end of the poem, he says, "We must love one another or die."

"September 1, 1939" became one of Auden's most famous poems, but in later years, he rejected it. He refused to give permission for it to be in anthologies, and when he did include it, he either changed "We must love one another or die" to "we must love one another and die," or he took out the stanza entirely.

Read the whole poem here