written quotes

Lost quotations

Have a look at the lost quotes below and see if you can help us out! (Please note that comments must be suitable for audiences of all ages and may be removed if not.)

Heroic charity is rare... | 24-Jul-06

Heroic charity is rare
what except despair 
would shape the hero who would dare 
the desperate catavesis [catastasis?] into the abyss 
that always lies just beneath 
the jolly picknick 
on the heath 
of the agreeable.

Enquirer thinks poem may be by Auden

3 comments have been made on this quote. Click here to read them and then add your own!

Do you know this poem? Do you have any clues to help us find it?


It is Auden [but slightly misquoted].

...Heroic charity is rare;
Without it, what except despair
Can shape the hero who would dare
The desperate catabasis
Into the snarl of the abyss
That always lies just underneath
Our jolly picnic on the heath
Of the agreeable....

It's from New Year Letter, Part Two.
Tom Deveson

Thank you to Tom Deveson who has identified this poem for us. This section of New Year Letter containing these lines can be found on page 217 of Auden's 'Collected Poems', Faber & Faber, 1991.
Poetry Library

Thanks for this information.


Jo Moller

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