The consensus seems to be that W H Auden (1907 – 73) was the most important poet of the last hundred years, and I am here, my friends, to tell you why I, and many others like me, have named their sons after him, why he is so deserving of accolades, why his fame grows yearly and why he is an affirming flame. He never wrote anything as devastating, technically so perfect nor as cynical as T S Eliot’s (1888 – 1965), The Waste Land or The Hollow Men. Auden’s colorful vignettes such as Now the Leaves Are Falling Fast, Law Like Love, The Unknown Citizen, Funeral Blues, and many others have grown in popularity since his death. This is an unheard of event in the world of letters, and due to their singularity as having poem stickiness—I coined that from the pop music industry—they stay with you after you’ve heard them . . . in a loving haunting manner.
Auden was a romantic, a democrat, moderate, openly gay, respectful of science and modernity, a calm personality, honest in his religion and wise beyond his years. Eliot was a pessimist, an anti-Semite, ever the declinist, a cynic and had no respect for democracy as even a small sampling of his work will show you.  [“We can assert with some confidence that our own period is one of decline; that the standards of culture are lower than they were fifty years ago; and that the evidences of this decline are visible in every department of human activity.”] He believed in authority, was a snob and was sympathetic to Fascism. He described religion as the crown knot of fire and the door we never open, but he himself was seen as a poet who had his own issues around sensual life—‘Dare I eat a peach?’—a self-ostracized outsider to the middle ground of the working folks and devoid of a natural sexual demeanor. His poems were as W S Maugham said of Joyce’s novels: “. . . written for PhDs,” perhaps even incomprehensible. Throughout they contain contentions of class clout and the charge that the modern world—market democracy—was a dry sterile landscape of mob rule as we would also see in Ezra Pound’s poems, a poet he influenced. In a series of lectures delivered at the University of Virginia in 1933, published under the title After Strange Gods: A Primer of Modern Heresy (1934), to his shame this is what he wrote, "What is still more important is unity of religious background, and reasons of race and religion combine to make any large number of free-thinking Jews undesirable." R Kirk.
When only 18 years old Auden wrote:
Three crags rose up and overshadowed me
What are you doing here, the road's your place'
- Between their bodies I could see my tarn -
What could I do but shift my feet awhile
Mutter and turn back to my road again
Watched out of sight by three tall angry hills.
Auden’s view of religion was broader and can be summed up with, “You must love your crooked neighbor with your crooked heart.” He was a world traveler and self-effacing in his daily tribulations, in the orbit of his friends, from his journey as a youthful Marxist-socialist into the later American Protestant which he sincerely reflected on in his work For the Time Being and many other poems. In the different stages of his life he offered up priceless insights for the modern life. Though defensive of his talent, he was also humble and candid to the assigned venue of the characters of his many stories, some created like The Average Man or Victor out of pure construct, some like Musee, Yeats or September 1939 from a heart filled with lean wisdom and others like A Day for a Lay or Letter to a Wound, devastatingly frank verses about his most personal experiences.
Some like Sonnets From China (his famous War Poetry) #V:

His care-free swagger was a fine invention:
Life was to slow, too regular, too grave.
With horse and sword he drew the girls’ attention,
A conquering hero, bountiful and brave,

To whom teen-agers looked for liberation:
At his command they left behind their mothers,
Their wits were sharpened by the long migration,
His camp-fires taught them all the horde were brothers.

Till what he came to do was done: unwanted,
Grown seedy, paunchy, pouchy, disappointed,
He took to drink to screw his nerves to murder,

Or sat in offices and stole,
Boomed at his children about Law and Order,
And hated life with heart and soul


Far from a cultural centre he was used:
Abandoned by his general and his lice,
Under a padded quilt he turned to ice
And vanished. He will never be perused

When this campaign is tidied into books:
No vital knowledge perished in that skull;
His jokes were stale; like wartime, he was dull;
His name is lost for ever like his looks.

Though runeless, to instructions from headquarters
He added meaning like a comma when
He joined the dust of China, that our daughters

Might keep their upright carriage, not again
Be shamed before the dogs, that, where are waters,
Mountains, and houses, may be also men.

It was true that the West’s very own ‘Pickled Poet’ in old age, according to him, had a face that looked like ‘a wedding cake that had been left out in the rain,’ or as his good friend Christopher Isherwood had said, “such a face belonged in the British Museum.’ The kind cracked face "a dried Greek riverbed in August." From the shared cigarette in Spain to the shot of liquor in On the Circuit:

Then worst of all, the anxious thought,
Each time my plane begins to sink
And the No Smoking sign comes on:
What will there be to drink?

Is this a milieu where I must
How grahamgreeneish! How infra dig!

Snatch from the bottle in my bag
An analeptic swig?

He was like a poet fairytale, kindly, judicious, authentic, a fine table set under the open bright summer stars. He dished up a banquet, gastronomically executed like Rachmaninoff’s piano concerto: the port, brandy and wine supplied with erotica, tobacco, Jack & Jill, every small man and every Beanstalk Giant from the Age of Anxiety. What a light! And to think, humor too.
The Love Song of Prufrock Investment Bankers 
I buy gold . . . I sell gold.
I shall hide it in the cold pantry hold.
I shall make my decisions only after the rulers have been polled.
Shall I spend my bullion? Do I dare eat a mango?
I crave to sell my assets but it is all contango.
I have seen the bankers do the tango and fandango.
I do not think they will dance for me.
I will drive to their depository in my Dodge Durango,
Shouting at my group, “Go, gang go!”
I have seen the daring bankers, robbing all my working kins,
For over seventy solar spins, as though there were no worse sins;
Back when the rulers allowed the banks to chance all our wins.
They laugh at our foolish toils, they rejoice in our roils.
I have seen them on their posterior, hording their evil spoils,
Till the shot awakes us and the pistol recoils.
E A St Amant (as a spoof of Prufrock).
Here's a poem that sounds much like one Auden would write, but is in fact, from the famed Russian poet, Osip Mandelstam who Auden very much admired: 

I’ll tell you bluntly
One last time:
It’s only maddening cherry brandy,
Angel mine!

Where the Greeks saw just their raped
Beauty’s fame,
At me through black holes gaped
Only shame.

But the Greeks hauled Helen home
In their ships.
Here a smidgen of salty foam
Flecks my lips.

What rubs my lips and leaves no trace?
What thrusts a finger in my face?

Quickly, wholly, or slowly as a snail,
All the same,
Mary angel, drink your cocktail,
Down your wine.

I’ll tell you bluntly
One last time:
It’s only maddening cherry brandy,
Angel mine!
(Translated by Bernard Meares)

This is the poem that led the way to Mandelstam's eventual doom at the hands of the Marxists: see also: "On my shoulders pounces the wolf-hound age".

We live, with no sense of the country beneath,
At ten paces, our speeches cannot be perceived,
But whenever we can, we whisper in terror
Of the kremlin mountain dweller.
His fingers are thick and fat like the worms,
And heavy like weights is the force of his words,
His cockroach mustache is sneering outright,
And his boot-tops are shimmering bright.

His skinny-necked leaders surround him, nervous,
He plays with these half-men, who stand at his service.
Whistling, crying or meowing, they linger,
But he alone bellows and points his finger,
Like horseshoes, he forges decrees line by line,
Which he casts at one’s groin, forehead and spine.
Every killing for him is a berry delight,
And the chest of the Osette is wide.
(November, 1933)
(Translated by Andrey Kneller)

The amazing, The Shield of Achilles, written in 1952 by Auden, the year that I was born:

  She looked over his shoulder
       For vines and olive trees,
    Marble well-governed cities
       And ships upon untamed seas,
    But there on the shining metal
       His hands had put instead
    An artificial wilderness
       And a sky like lead.

A plain without a feature, bare and brown,
   No blade of grass, no sign of neighborhood,
Nothing to eat and nowhere to sit down,
   Yet, congregated on its blankness, stood
   An unintelligible multitude,
A million eyes, a million boots in line,
Without expression, waiting for a sign.

Out of the air a voice without a face
   Proved by statistics that some cause was just
In tones as dry and level as the place:
   No one was cheered and nothing was discussed;
   Column by column in a cloud of dust
They marched away enduring a belief
Whose logic brought them, somewhere else, to grief.

    She looked over his shoulder
       For ritual pieties,
    White flower-garlanded heifers,
       Libation and sacrifice,
    But there on the shining metal
       Where the altar should have been,
    She saw by his flickering forge-light
       Quite another scene.

Barbed wire enclosed an arbitrary spot
   Where bored officials lounged (one cracked a joke)
And sentries sweated for the day was hot:
   A crowd of ordinary decent folk
   Watched from without and neither moved nor spoke
As three pale figures were led forth and bound
To three posts driven upright in the ground.

The mass and majesty of this world, all
   That carries weight and always weighs the same
Lay in the hands of others; they were small
   And could not hope for help and no help came:
   What their foes like to do was done, their shame
Was all the worst could wish; they lost their pride
And died as men before their bodies died.

    She looked over his shoulder
       For athletes at their games,
    Men and women in a dance
       Moving their sweet limbs
    Quick, quick, to music,
       But there on the shining shield
    His hands had set no dancing-floor
       But a weed-choked field.

A ragged urchin, aimless and alone,
   Loitered about that vacancy; a bird
Flew up to safety from his well-aimed stone:
   That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,
   Were axioms to him, who'd never heard
Of any world where promises were kept,
Or one could weep because another wept.

    The thin-lipped armorer,
       Hephaestos, hobbled away,
    Thetis of the shining breasts
       Cried out in dismay
    At what the god had wrought
       To please her son, the strong
    Iron-hearted man-slaying Achilles
       Who would not live long.

Or the shockingly cold, Watershed, 1927:

Who stands, the crux left of the watershed,
On the wet road between the chafing grass
Below him sees dismantled washing-floors,
Snatches of tramline running to a wood,
An industry already comatose,
Yet sparsely living. A ramshackle engine
At Cashwell raises water; for ten years
It lay in flooded workings until this,
Its latter office, grudgingly performed.
And, further, here and there, though many dead
Lie under the poor soil, some acts are chosen,
Taken from recent winters; two there were
Cleaned out a damaged shaft by hand, clutching
The winch a gale would tear them from; one died
During a storm, the fells impassable,
Not at his village, but in wooden shape
Through long abandoned levels nosed his way
And in his final valley went to ground.

Go home, now, stranger, proud of your young stock,
Stranger, turn back again, frustrate and vexed:
This land, cut off, will not communicate,
Be no accessory content to one
Aimless for faces rather there than here.
Beams from your car may cross a bedroom wall,
They wake no sleeper; you may hear the wind
Arriving driven from the ignorant sea
To hurt itself on pane, on bark of elm
Where sap unbaffled rises, being spring;
But seldom this. Near you, taller than the grass,
Ears poise before decision, scenting danger.