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It was such a synthesis of the ethical, emotional and physical needs of humanity that Auden's greatest poetry later attempted; but as an adolescent he naturally 7 knew that very moment what I wished to do * 45 felt self-conscious and inadequate. In a poem of 1925 (influenced by Wordsworth as well as Hardy) he described turning off a track and hurriedly, eagerly scrambling upwards towards a tarn in high terrain, as if . to the hawk's eyrie: all at once Three crags rose up and overshadowed me 4 What are you doing here, the road's your place' - Between their bodies I could see my tarn What could I do but shift my feet awhile Mutter and turn back to my road again Watched out of sight by three tall angry hills.

You know, I feel sadly separated from you,' Dr Auden wrote affectionately to Wystan in New York in 1940. ' The terrain of limestone landscape and derelict leadmines became, as Auden wrote of the old mine at Rookhope which he visited in 1922, 'my symbol of us all'. There he: was first aware Of Self and Not-self, Death and Dread: Adits were entrances which led Down to the Outlawed, to the Others, The Terrible, the Merciful, the Mothers. His love for such terrain was symbolic of his need to offer a love that was so strong as to be unreciprocable.

He pursued friendships with New York physicians like David Protetch and Oliver Sacks, and used to ruminate on medical themes to visitors. Depending on the quality of his ideas, the response was sometimes appreciative. On one occasion in the 1960s he was visited in New York by the British neurologist Peter Nathan and Martin Starkie, an actor and Chaucerian scholar. Auden regaled them with a stream of old medical jokes at which Nathan laughed politely, although they were hoary and not particularly funny.

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