W.H. Auden Recites His 1937 Poem, ‘As I Walked Out One Evening’


Today we bring you one of the best-loved poems of W.H. Auden, “As I Walked Out One Evening,” read (below) by the poet him­self. Auden wrote the poem in 1937 and first pub­lished it in his 1940 vol­ume, Anoth­er Time. The poem is a vari­ant of the bal­lad form, made up of 15 rhymed qua­trains. It’s a med­i­ta­tion on love and the remorse­less­ness of time, told in three voic­es: the nar­ra­tor, a rap­tur­ous lover, and the reproach­ful clocks that speak back to the lover.

‘The years shall run like rab­bits,
     For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
    And the first love of the world.’

But all the clocks in the city
    Began to whirr and chime:
‘O let not Time deceive you,
    You can­not con­quer Time

Auden made a num­ber of audio record­ings over the years, and we were unable to track down the time and place of this one. It may be a 1953 record­ing orig­i­nal­ly released by Caed­mon Records. “As I Walked Out One Evening” is includ­ed in the Ran­dom House audio col­lec­tion, Voice of the Poet: W.H. Auden.

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