You love your life and I love you
Speaking of music – from 1935 up until about 1942, Auden collaborated quite extensively with Benjamin Britten.
Britten set the music to several of Auden’s lyric poems, four of which became known as the Cabaret Songs, written for Hedli Anderson -singer, actress, and the wife of another good friend of Auden, Louis MacNeice. The most famous of these poems, especially after appearing in the 1994 film Four Weddings and a Funeral, is probably “Funeral Blues”:
I love these poems as light verse, and hearing them as songs is a lot of fun. (I’m paranoid that hearing musical versions of poems will somehow spoil the experience of reading them – what if the song I’ve heard drowns out the rhythm of the language? Oh no! – but paranoia has nothing on curiosity.)
Today, I heard another couple of Auden/Britten songs for the first time, in an absolutely beautiful version. Recommended! The Auden ones start at 15:34.
The poems sung are “Night Covers Up the Rigid Land”, “Fish in the Unruffled Lakes” and “To Lie Flat on the Back.”
There’s an interesting article on the relationship between Auden and Britten here. As the writer mentions, the line I quote in the headline might have been directed at Britten himself, who seems to have (outrageous!) rejected all of Auden’s efforts to get him into bed.