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May I, composed like them
Of Eros and dust, 
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.
—  W. H. Auden, “September 1, 1939.” Where We Are: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1900–1960, as well as each of its sections, is titled after a phrase in the poem. While its subject is the beginning of the war, Auden’s true theme is how the shadow of a global emergency reaches into the far corners of everyday life. The exhibition opens tomorrow.