Spring 1986 • Vol. VIII No. 2 Nonfiction |

The Mineralogy of ‘In Praise of Limestone’

"In Praise of Limestone" has found a secure place as an anthology piece representing the Later Auden. It is an apt choice; the rather rambling, meditative shape of the poem, its tone of avuncular didacticism, the extended, often prosaic syntax, only gently restrained by the flexible formal boundaries of alternating nine- and eleven-syllable lines—all of these are elements which can be found quite commonly in the volumes which Auden produced after "The Age of Anxiety." That the subject of the poem proves, at last and rather surprisingly, to be love in both its earthly and its "faultless" forms makes the poem rest all the more comfortably in the later pages of the Collected Poems, which are so full of considerations of the dimensions and possibility of human love, addressed to lovers, friends, god-children, and even to lost pets. And that the apparent political worries of the third stanza are, in the end, subsumed by a more religious concern, without Auden's altogether abandoning th

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Premature Elegy

By John Hildebidle

"In Praise of Limestone" has found a secure place as an anthology piece representing the Later Auden. It is an apt choice; the rather rambling, meditative shape of the poem, […]

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