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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 September 2007, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
Unknown poems by Auden unearthed
WH Auden
WH Auden knew Primrose Hill in London from his visits to a friend
A collection of previously unknown poems thought to be the work of WH Auden, have been found in Norfolk.

The poems were found by John Smart, a former head of arts at Gresham's School in Holt, as he researched another former literary old boy, John Hayward.

Mr Smart, 61, found the poems in old copies of The Gresham, the magazine Hayward edited during his school days.

The poems, from the 1920s, will form part of celebrations marking Auden's 100th birthday at the school next week.

Mr Smart, from Thornage, near Holt, chanced across the poems in the school library while researching the life of literary critic John Hayward, a close friend of the poet TS Eliot.

"John Hayward constantly asked pupils to contribute poems to the magazine.

Lost sonnet

"He didn't receive any poems so concluded there were no budding poets at the school. Strangely enough, at this time Auden arrived at the school."

Mr Smart came across an anonymous poem in the journal entitled "Evening and Night on Primrose Hill".

Mr Smart said: "The author Katherine Bucknell refers to a sonnet Auden wrote about Primrose Hill in London which had been lost.

John Smart
Mr Smart found the poems in old copies of The Gresham

"It is not in fact a sonnet, but this poem must be the work she is referring too."

The poem was published in December 1922, the year Auden decided to become a poet when his friend Robert Medley asked him whether he wrote poetry.

Auden documented his reply in his poem A Letter to Lord Byron: "I never had, and said so, but I knew / That very moment what I wished to do."

Auden, whose family came from Birmingham, knew Primrose Hill from his visits to stay with Medley.

Mr Smart believes a second poem published in The Gresham in July 1923 entitled "To a Tramp met in the Holidays In Monmouthshire", can also be attributed to Auden.

A third poem "Enchanted" is also believed to have been written by Auden.

Mr Smart added: "I seriously think more of Auden's works will be dug up as he constantly revised his work."


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