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The Plural of UsPoetry and Community in Auden and Others$
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Bonnie Costello

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691172811

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691172811.001.0001

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The Demagogue and the Sotto Voce

The Demagogue and the Sotto Voce

(p.17) 2 The Demagogue and the Sotto Voce
The Plural of Us

Bonnie Costello

Princeton University Press

Pronouns are crucial tools for any poet. They create dramatic relation and perspective, but because they are insubstantial they allow for abstraction and inclusion. No poet was quite so preoccupied with pronouns as W. H. Auden, who reflects on them often in his poetry and essays. This chapter considers Auden's relatively neglected poem “Law Like Love,” which incorporates many of the pronominal registers explored throughout this book. In this poem Auden reveals his skepticism about public orators and their absolutes, and turns against the rhetoric of his own most famous public poems, “Spain” and “September 1, 1939.” In “Law Like Love,” Auden finds alternatives for realizing the civic function of poetry.

Keywords:   W. H. Auden, poets, poetry, pronouns, Law Like Love

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