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Poetry makes nothing happen is a line from W H Auden's poem 'In Memory of W B Yeats'.

Auden had left-wing sympathies, but became disillusioned after participating in the Spanish Civil War. (He emigrated to America in the late 1930s, so as not to get involved in Britain's war against the Nazis).

Auden had a lifelong problem with Shelley's political activism, and especially with Shelley's statement that 'poets are the unacknowledged legislators of Mankind'. Auden attempted to refute Shelley's credo in many statements of his own - this is one of them.

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