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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index A > Wystan Hugh Auden Quotes

Wystan Hugh Auden
(21 Feb 1907 - 29 Sep 1973)

English-American poet who was one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.

Science Quotes by Wystan Hugh Auden (14 quotes)

A professor is one who talks in someone else’s sleep.
— Wystan Hugh Auden
Attributed.
Science quotes on:  |  Professor (54)  |  Sleep (58)

And make us as Newton was, who in his garden watching
The apple falling towards England, became aware
Between himself and her of an eternal tie.
— Wystan Hugh Auden
'Prologue' in Look Stranger! (1936), 11.
Science quotes on:  |  Apple (35)  |  Gravity (100)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (333)  |  Poetry (124)

Doctor Thomas …
Said, “Cancer’s a funny thing.
Nobody knows what the cause is,
Though some pretend they do;
It’s like some hidden assassin
Waiting to strike at you.
Childless women get it.
And men when they retire;
It’s as if there had to be some outlet
For their foiled creative fire.”
— Wystan Hugh Auden
In 'Miss Gee', in Collected Shorter Poems, 1930-1944 (1950), 242.
Science quotes on:  |  Assassin (2)  |  Cancer (49)  |  Cause (285)  |  Creative (61)  |  Fire (133)  |  Foiled (2)  |  Funny (11)  |  Hidden (42)  |  Know (556)  |  Man (373)  |  Nobody (49)  |  Outlet (3)  |  Pretend (17)  |  Retirement (6)  |  Strike (40)  |  Waiting (9)  |  Woman (111)

How happy the lot of the mathematician! He is judged solely by his peers, and the standard is so high that no colleague or rival can ever win a reputation he does not deserve.
— Wystan Hugh Auden
The Dyer’s Hand and Other Essays (1965), Prologue, 'Writing', 15.
Science quotes on:  |  Mathematician (384)

In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start.
— Wystan Hugh Auden
From last stanza of poem, 'In Memory of W.B. Yeats', (Feb 1939). In Collected Shorter Poems, 1930-1944 (1950), 67. [Note: Psychologist Arthur Lerner ended each of the poetry therapy sessions he conducted with these lines, according to obituary by Myrna Oliver, 'Arthur Lerner; Promoted Use of Poetry in Therapy', Los Angeles Times (8 Apr 1998). —Webmaster]
Science quotes on:  |  Desert (38)  |  Fountain (16)  |  Healing (18)  |  Heart (139)  |  Arthur Lerner (4)  |  Poetry Therapy (10)  |  Start (97)

Man chooses either life or death, but he chooses; everything he does, from going to the toilet to mathematical speculation, is an act of religious worship, either of God or of himself.
— Wystan Hugh Auden
Quoted in Kim Lim (ed.), 1,001 Pearls of Spiritual Wisdom: Words to Enrich, Inspire, and Guide Your Life (2014), 15
Science quotes on:  |  Act (117)  |  Choose (60)  |  Death (302)  |  Everything (181)  |  God (535)  |  Life (1131)  |  Mathematics (1205)  |  Religious (49)  |  Speculation (104)  |  Worship (25)

Of course, Behaviourism “works.” So does torture. Give me a no-nonsense, down-to-earth behaviourist, a few drugs, and simple electrical appliances, and in six months I will have him reciting the Athanasian Creed in public.
— Wystan Hugh Auden
A Certain World: A Commonplace Book (1971),33.
Science quotes on:  |  Experiment (602)  |  Psychology (143)

Of the many definitions of poetry, the simplest is still the best: “memorable speech.”
— Wystan Hugh Auden
From 'The Poet's Tongue' (1935), Introduction, collected in Edward Mendelson (ed.), The Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Prose and Travel Books in Prose and Verse: 1926-1938 (1996), Vol. 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Definition (192)  |  Memorable (4)  |  Poetry (124)  |  Speech (47)

The subject matter of the scientist is a crowd of natural events at all times; he presupposes that this crowd is not real but apparent, and seeks to discover the true place of events in the system of nature. The subject matter of the poet is a crowd of historical occasions of feeling recollected from the past; he presupposes that this crowd is real but should not be, and seeks to transform it into a community. Both science and art are primarily spiritual activities, whatever practical applications may be derived from their results. Disorder, lack of meaning, are spiritual not physical discomforts, order and sense spiritual not physical satisfactions.
— Wystan Hugh Auden
The Dyer’s Hand and Other Essays (1965), 66.
Science quotes on:  |  Men Of Science (130)  |  Science And Art (181)

The train, panting up past lonely farms,
Fed by the fireman's restless arms…
Past cotton grass and moorland boulder,
Shoveling white steam over her shoulder.
— Wystan Hugh Auden
Poem written as narration for documentary film "Night Mail" (1936), made for the British Post Office.
Science quotes on:  |  Boulder (7)  |  Farm (19)  |  Grass (35)  |  Moorland (2)  |  Shoulder (18)  |  Steam (30)  |  Steam Engine (42)  |  Train (45)

The true men of action in our time, those who transform the world, are not the politicians and statesmen, but the scientists. Unfortunately poetry cannot celebrate them because their deeds are concerned with things, not persons, and are, therefore, speechless.
— Wystan Hugh Auden
In 'The Poet and the City' (1962), collected in The Dyer's Hand and Other Essays (1965), 81.
Science quotes on:  |  Men Of Science (130)  |  Science And Art (181)

Thou shalt not answer questionnaires
Or quizzes upon World-Affairs,
Nor with compliance
Take any test. Thou shalt not sit
With statisticians nor commit
A social science.
— Wystan Hugh Auden
Stanza from the Phi Beta Kappa poem 'Under Which Lyre (A Reactionary Tract for the Times)', which Auden wrote and delivered at the 1946 Victory Commencement of Harvard University (Jun 1946). Quoted in Adam Kirsch, 'A Poet's Warning', Harvard Magazine (Nov-Dec 2007) which gives more background on the poem. Also in Collected Poems of W.H. Auden (1976), 262.
Science quotes on:  |  Answer (249)  |  Commencement (8)  |  Commit (21)  |  Compliance (5)  |  Education (347)  |  Graduation (4)  |  Questionnaire (2)  |  Social Science (31)  |  Statistician (19)  |  Test (125)  |  University (81)

When I find myself in the company of scientists, I feel like a shabby curate who has strayed by mistake into a drawing room full of dukes.
— Wystan Hugh Auden
In 'The Poet and the City' (1962), collected in The Dyer's Hand and Other Essays (1965), 81.
Science quotes on:  |  Company (30)  |  Duke (2)  |  Feel (167)  |  Full (63)  |  Mistake (132)  |  Scientist (522)  |  Shabby (2)  |  Stray (6)

“Healing,” Papa would tell me, “is not a science, but the intuitive art of wooing Nature.”
— Wystan Hugh Auden
From 'The Art of Healing' (1969), Epistle to a Godson: And Other Poems (1972), 7. (Auden’s father was a physician.) The memorial poem was written on the death of his friend, Dr. David Protetch.
Science quotes on:  |  Art (294)  |  Father (60)  |  Healing (18)  |  Intuitive (14)  |  Nature (1223)  |  Science (2067)  |  Science And Art (181)  |  Telling (23)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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- 100 -
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- 90 -
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- 80 -
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Bible
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- 70 -
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- 60 -
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- 50 -
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- 40 -
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Archimedes
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- 30 -
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- 20 -
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- 10 -
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