In 1938 Auden wrote:
“The primary function of poetry, as of all the arts, is to make us more aware of ourselves and the world around us. I do not know if such increased awareness makes us more moral or more efficient: I hope not.
I think it makes us more human, and I am quite certain it makes us more difficult to deceive, which is why, perhaps, all totalitarian theories of the State, from Plato’s downwards, have deeply mistrusted the arts. They notice and say too much, and the neighbours start talking.” — From The Later Auden by Edward Mendelson