At the Women’s March in Washington, DC, on January 21, 2017, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, Madonna took to the stage to address the vast crowd and drew a historical parallel to exhort her listeners toward solidarity and political resistance: “We cannot fall into despair. As the poet W. H. Auden once wrote on the eve of World War II: ‘We must love one another or die.’” The marchers cheered, and the singer then performed her hit “Express Yourself.” It was an effective rhetorical moment, though for students of modern poetry there were both familiar and complicated ironies in Madonna’s use of Auden’s poem, “September 1, 1939,” to express herself and her political commitments. As Bonnie Costello and Rachel Galvin note on the very first page of their introduction to this superb collection of essays on Auden’s self-revising poetics, that poem is by...
Review Article|December 01 2017
Auden at Work ed. by Bonnie Costello and Rachel Galvin
Twentieth-Century Literature (2017) 63 (4): 507-512.