One of the things I find weirdly admirable about W.H. Auden is the fact that his two most famous poems--"September 1, 1939" and "Spain 1937"*--are not in his 900+ page Collected Poems, and do not appear in a variety of other collections of his work. I wrote a paper about this where I called it "denying legitimacy without denying authorship." The poems, he felt, took advantage of rhetorical tricks to say things that were poetically compelling but false: "we must love one another or die." They created a false moral and martial sense that he found politically irresponsible despite--perhaps because--of their popularity. He spent a few years attempting to fix the poems, eventually concluding that to say the true thing would be to destroy the poem, but he also could not be associated with something he believed to be false. But he also would not disown having written these things. The solution of declining to allow them to be anthologized is an elegant halfway position: he needn't deny the reality of having written them in the first place, but he also needn't give them the imprimatur of representing his current beliefs--or even an acceptable belief for someone else to have.

All of which is prolegomena to saying that I have very mixed feelings about writing on the internet. The archives of this blog are hidden to the casual viewer--not hard to find if you know how to look--because I've been writing it since 2002 and have held a wide variety of opinions since then, not all of which I would endorse today (like any person who writes for long enough, I am certain to say ill-advised things even if my opinions of the moment are always correct and true). And occasionally I write something that seems 60% done, and hit 'publish,' and think better of it--or come to realize I have communicated ineffectively. When that happens, I feel slightly more content than the rest of the internet to remove the offending bit and try again later. I know this is well outside standard internet practice, but it's the thing I feel comfortable with: there are many forms of writing which are irreversible, but this one isn't.

*Funny also that the decision to not anthologize has reduced the prominence of "Spain 1937", but not "September 1, 1939".

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