Karsh Signature

Yousuf Karsh, master photographer of the 20th century

W. H. Auden

W. H. Auden, 1972

British-American poet W. H. Auden was born on this day, February 21, in 1907 (d. 1973).

Karsh wrote: “In Stephen Spender’s garden in London, the poet W. H. Auden talked about ‘coming home.’ The Oxford University he knew, which he had longed for during bouts of deep nostalgic depression while living in New York, no longer existed for him when he returned to England. He spent two hours talking to my wife – prophetically – about friends who had died. He smoked incessantly, his conversation punctuated by wracking coughs. Meanwhile the light was gone from the garden, and I could take only a quick photograph of a beautiful and ravaged face. ‘Come soon, come soon,’ he invited, but I knew I would never see him again.” Indeed, Karsh made this portrait October 30, 1972; Auden died September, 29, 1973.