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“Dear Lord; we beg but one boon more: Peace in the hearts of all men living, peace in the whole world this Thanksgiving."


Joseph Auslander was born to Louis and Martha (Asyueck) Auslander on October 11, 1897 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1930 Auslander married Svanhild Kreutz, who died in childbirth in 1932, leaving a daughter, Svanhild Frances Martha. Auslander married Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Audrey Wurdemann in 1933, and the couple had a son, Louis, and a daughter, Mary.

By the age of 16, Auslander was enrolled at Columbia University. He spent only one year there, leaving to attend Harvard University, where he graduated in 1917. Auslander became an instructor in English at Harvard in 1919 while continuing his graduate work there until 1924. He took a leave of absence from 1921 to 1922 to attend the Sorbonne in Paris on a Parker fellowship. In 1929 he became a lecturer in Poetry at Columbia, where he remained until 1937. From 1937 to 1941, Auslander was the Poet Laureate Consultant in English Poetry for the Library of Congress. In addition, he was the poetry editor for North American Review.

Auslander, who fervently supported the sale of U.S. war bonds during World War II, collaborated with his second wife to write The Unconquerables, a collection of poems dedicated to war-ravaged Europe. The book was credited with raising funds for the fourth major loan drive of the war. Auslander also teamed up with Wurdemann for two novels, Islanders and My Uncle Jan. Additionally, Auslander co-authored The Winged Horse with Frank Ernest Hill. A history of poetry written for young people, the book was followed up with The Winged Horse Anthology, which was widely used in schools across America. Auslander also translated the poems of Italian author Francesco Petrarch and French author Jean de la Fontaine. Auslander's own books of poetry include Sunrise Trumpets, Cyclops' Eye, Hell in Harness, and Letters to Women. He was awarded the Robert Frost Prize for poetry shortly before his death.

Auslander died of a heart attack on June 22, 1965, on his way to a hospital in South Miami, Florida. He was 67 years old.


Three Poems:

To My Despoiler

Yes, you have taken everything from me:
Beauty and love and all the measureless
Impatience of proud April; even our sea
Shouting under the gulls; all loveliness
Of form and sound and colour; all that we
Had touched; the curve of things we used to press
Glowing against our senses; mystery
And movement. . . everything taken. . . taken. . . Yes,
Even the little brave irrelevancies
Like brooding water, dripping water-cress,
The cool dark noise of cropping; cruising bees
On hot gold expeditions--even these
You took from me--Oh spare me your caress,
Leave me at least my own stark loneliness!


Wings at Dawn

Dawn is dense with twitter;
And the white air swims and sings
In rapid wings that glitter;
And the flashing of wings-
Delicate and fugitive shiverings.

The dews curl up in haze.
While the sun from his hive
Like a giant bee ablaze
Bursts dizzily alive-
And through the glow a thousand swallows dive.

Light like a storm
Diluges the grass,
And birds in a swarm
Wheel, dwindle and mass-
And their wings are split silver as they pass.


Home Bound

The moon is a wavering rim where one fish slips,
The water makes a quietness of sound;
Night is an anchoring of many ships

There are strange tunnelers in the dark, and whirs
Of wings that die, and hairy spiders spin
The silence into nets, and tenanters
Move softly in.

I step on shadows riding through the grass,
And feel the night lean cool against my face;
And challenged by the sentinel of space,
I pass."



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[The above biography was compiled and written by Machala McCoy.]

Last Updated: Mon, July 10, 2006
©2006 John Struloeff -- All Rights Reserved.