When Auden was twenty-four and just starting as a poet, he placed himself on the lower slope of Mount Parnassus, sacred to Apollo and the Muses of the arts, where he might find his place at a “picnic on the lower slopes” with minor poets. Thirty-plus years later, older and somber, Auden wrote a haiku “Thoughts of His Own Death,” a meditation on old age and the inevitability of dying:
Thoughts of his own death,
like the distant roll
of thunder at a picnic.
Though Auden was liked food and wine, in neither poem is picnic food or drink mentioned.
See “Letter to Lord Byron” (1937), in Letters from Iceland (1937); “Thoughts of his own death,” Marginalia, [1965-1968] in Collected Poems (1994; “W. H. Auden, The Art of Poetry No. 17,” Interviewed by Michael Newman in The Paris Review (Spring 1974), http://www. theparisreview.org/interviews/3970/the-art-of-poetry-no-17-w-h-auden