Robert Newman’s top 10 favourite albums : number 3 : W.H Auden Reading His Poems Vol 2. (2011, Soundmark Records)

As he grew older Auden became more and more what we would now call ecologically aware. Vol 2. includes his poems about landscapes and habitats In Praise of Limestone; poems about why he doesn’t like mountains, fears plains, is happy by lakes and as for woods, he says a culture is not better than its woods. (Woods)

A small grove massacred to the last ash,
An oak with heart-rot, give away the show:
This great society is going to smash;
They cannot fool us with how fast they go,
How much they cost each other and the gods.
A culture is no better than its woods.

I get very bored swimming and so I recite Auden poems in my head while I am doing lengths. (One good things about having been a stand up for all my adult life, I can memorize long chunks of stuff quite well.) I am the slowest swimmer in England, by the way. Even in the slow lane, a tailback grows behind me of octogenarian’s and amputees all cursing me for being in the way.

Number 4 in Robert newman’s top 10 favourite albums is here

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