W. H. Auden once defined light verse as the kind that is written by poets who are democratically in tune with their audience and whose language is straightforward and close to general speech. Given that definition, the 123 poems in this collection all qualify; they are as accessible as popular songs yet have the wisdom and profundity of the greatest poetry.
As I Walked Out One Evening contains some of Auden's most memorable verse: "Now Through the Night's Caressing Grip," "Lullaby: Lay your Sleeping Head, My Love," "Under Which Lyre," and "Funeral Blues." Alongside them are less familiar poems, including seventeen that have never before appeared in book form. Here, among toasts, ballads, limericks, and even a foxtrot, are "Song: The Chimney Sweepers," a jaunty evocation of love, and the hilarious satire "Letter to Lord Byron." By turns lyrical, tender, sardonic, courtly, and risque, As I Walked Out One Evening is Auden at his most irresistible and affecting.