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For, given man, by birth, by education,
Imago Dei who forgot his station,
The self-made maker who himself unmakes,
The only creature ever made who fakes,
With no more nature in his loving smile
Than in his theories of a natural style,
What but tall tales, the luck of verbal playing,
Can trick his lying nature into saying
That love, or truth in any serious sense,
Like orthodoxy, is a reticence.
— from “The Truest Poetry is the Most Feigning or, Ars Poetica for Hard Times”

The Collected Poetry of W. H. Auden
W. H. Auden 91907-1973)
New York: Random House, 1945
First edition, tenth printing

Stanza quoted above from folded clipping out of The New Yorker, date unknown, found tucked into this copy after the title-page.


Rare Books copy inscribed and dated December 1954 by Auden to Eleanor Nicholes, who donated the book to us.