Auden’s Public and Private Faces, Normality, and Prick’s Belonging

I am reading a selection of poetry by Auden.  There are only a few poems that I like so far, particularly “Too Dear, Too Vague,” “As I Walked Out One Evening,” “Request” (part 17), “Alone,” “A More Loving One,” and some fragments were shorts, such as:

Private faces in public places
are wiser and nicer
than public faces in private places.

More from part four of “Letter to Lord Byron”:

Goddess of busy underlings, Normality!
What murders are committed in thy name!
Totalitarian is thy state Reality,
Reeking of antiseptics and the shame
Of faces that all look and feel the same.

Or from Shorts:

Babies in their mother’s arms
Exercise their budding charms
On their fingers and their toes,
Striving ever to enclose
In the circle of their will
Objects disobedient still,
But the boy comes fast enough
To the limits of self-love,
And the adult learns what small
Forces rally at his call.
Large and paramount the State
That will not co-operate
With the Duchy of his mind:
All his lifetime he will find
Swollen knee or aching tooth
Hostile to his quest for truth;
Never will his prick belong
To his world of right and wrong,
Nor its values comprehend
Who is foe and who is friend.

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