Auden's time at Swarthmore, while enriching for the college community and fertile in terms of his own work, seems marked by tension between the demands of his professional life and those of his creative and personal needs. During a preliminary visit to Swarthmore in 1940, he told a Phoenix writer that he was "glad to be in New York, where America, or a good part of America, happens." The town of Swarthmore, generally referred to as the Ville, lacked much of the hustle and bustle of the big city, and several of Auden's biographers have noted that the poet missed the vibrancy of his adopted base of operations. (He later wrote the poem "A Healthy Spot" about the experience of living in Swarthmore.)
Nevertheless, Auden did not distance himself from the intellectual and social life of the campus. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he assisted with a student performance of his play The Ascent of F6, gave lectures, contributed to the campus newspaper and one of the literary magazines, and returned to Swarthmore several times after his teaching appointment ended in 1945.