W. H. Auden wrote the poem “September 1, 1939” during the first days of World War II. It deliberately echoes the stanza form of W. B. Yeats’ “Easter, 1916” and similarly moves from a description of failures and frustrations to the possibility of transformation. (See text.) Here it is, as read by Dylan Thomas:
Note: Since I posted this, I have read Edward Mendelson’s “The Secret Auden,” which shows that Auden was a great person as well as a great poet.