"The first critical edition of W. H. Auden's poetry collection The Shield of Achilles, which won the 1956 National Book Award in Poetry, this book will include the complete text of Auden's award-winning volume The Shield of Achilles, accompanied critical commentary by Alan Jacobs: a preface to provide historical and publishing context; a longer introduction to orient the reader to the poems themselves; and detailed notes on words or passages in need of clarification for contemporary readers. Jacobs, who has edited two previous critical editions of Auden's poetry, argues that this was the most important single collection of poems Auden published, and also the most coherent of his collections. The two poetic sequences, "Bucolics" and "Horae Canonicae," bookend a remarkable set of lyrics, with "The Shield of Achilles" itself at the heart. One of Auden's last long poems, it refers to moment in The Iliad in which Thetis, mother of Achilles, asks Hephaestus to forge a shield for her son. Auden re-imagines how the shield of Achilles would look in the modern age, when the rules of war and the role of the hero have been rewritten. While the volume was widely praised, it is now out of print (although the title poem is included in larger collections of Auden's poetry). A critical edition allows readers to better understand and appreciate one of Auden's most important later poetic works, written in what Jacobs describes as "a poetic idiom that differs quite significantly from what anyone else at the time was doing. . . . it is, in a vital sense, public poetry and it can be enjoyed, understood, and profited from. This edition is meant to make that enjoyment, understanding, and profit easier of access.""--