Auden on Williams

The poet W. H. Auden, who worked with Williams on a collection of Poetry he edited for Oxford University Press, had perhaps a stronger response to Williams. Many years after first meeting him, he would recall that interview in surprising terms and mark it as one of the events that led him to embrace the Christian faith:

"For the first time in my life, [I] felt myself in the presence of personal sanctity... I had met many good people before who made me feel ashamed of my own shortcomings but in the presence of this man... I did not feel ashamed. I felt transformed into a person who was incapable of doing or thinking anything base or unloving (I later discovered that he had had a similar effect on many other people.)"

How could a conversation about 'literary business' generate such an aura of 'personal sanctity'? ... Williams simply made an exceptionally powerful impression on almost all who knew him... though in more variable ways...

From The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis by Alan Jacobs (HarperCollins, 2005) pages 196-198.

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