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Astronaut Charles Duke Jr. salutes the U.S. flag on the moon. (Photo by NASA/Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

Things Worth Remembering: A Prayer After the Moon Landing

Toward the end of his life, W.H. Auden wrote a grumpy poem that ends on the perfect note for ringing in 2024.

Welcome back to Douglas Murray’s Sunday column, Things Worth Remembering, where he presents passages from great poets he has committed to memory—and explains why you should, too. To listen to Douglas read from W.H. Auden’s “Moon Landing,” click below:

Toward the end of his life, W.H. Auden returned to the UK, where he was the main guest on the BBC’s main evening chat show. While being interviewed, Auden was asked to recite his poem “Moon Landing,” the poet’s oddly grumpy take on Apollo 11’s successful voyage

Among other things, Auden—who, you may have noticed, is among my favorites—called the conquest of the moon a “phallic triumph, an adventure it would not have occurred to women to think worth while.” (I’m not so sure of that.) His portrayal of this magnificent milestone feels lazy, tired, what one might expect of a poet in a decidedly unpoetic age nearing the end of his life.

And yet.

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