W. H. Auden's birthday is a fitting day to mark how one of our most compelling occasional poets can be occasionally prophetic. Indeed, the most notorious line from Auden's "Spain"—"To-morrow for the young the poets exploding like bombs"—uncannily predicted what is now the largest-scale poetry event in the world. Written in 1937 to raise money for Medical Aid for Spain, this poetry for populist culture remains the most famous poem in English on the Spanish Civil War.
Federico Garcia Lorca (by execution) and John Cornford (in battle) during the conflict. And in a post-Hiroshima as well as post-Guernica world, Auden's fusion of poetry and bombardment proves even more unsettling. Yet the poet's posted-forward scenes of youthful energies, crowds, and public spaces find new meanings in Chilean art collective Casagrande's "Bombing of Poems" project. In 2004, Casagrande
Dickinson ordena: Split the lark
and you'll find the music. Abran
a los pájaros y encontrarán su música.
Pelen las alondras con agua caliente.
Con navaja trocen, abran sus carozos,
descascaren, calen a los mirlos, con cuchillo
zapallero saquen una a una las pepas al zorzal,
hiervan, muelan a los tordos, abran,
partan a los pájaros y encontrarán la música.
Dickinson orders: Split the lark
and you'll find the music. Open
the birds and you will find their music.
Peel the larks with hot water.
With a razor cut them up, open their cobs.
Peel, soak the blackbirds, with a pumpkin
knife draw one by one the seeds from the robin,
boil, grind the thrushes, open,
split the birds and you will find the music.
—translated by Carolyn Bradley