In this thread, D-AW linked to his Chains of OED Evidence, about “different kinds of chains of quotation created by the OED, in which the OED is itself already implicated”; that post, in turn, links to Charlotte Brewer’s Examining the OED essay on Auden’s relationship with the OED and its editor R. W. Burchfield, which is full of interesting stuff like this:
On another occasion, Burchfield was sitting working quietly in his room at Christ Church when the door burst open and in rushed an excited Auden, waving a sheet of paper in his hand freshly torn out of his typewriter, to insist Burchfield should put back into the OED an obscure word in a poem he had just that minute written. In telling this tale – to an audience of historical linguists at a conference in Oxford in 1988 – Burchfield gave it as his opinion that ‘Auden was not a scholar and often didn’t know what words meant’.
Before you get all huffy about a mere lexicographer saying a great poet “didn’t know what words meant,” take a look at the evidence; Auden seems to have scoured the OED for words he could insert into his poems, sometimes without checking the senses carefully enough (“But lenient in the etymological sense Auden seems to intend here, ‘soft’, is not a possible meaning according to OED”). Of course, like any user of the language, he was free to use words however he wanted and hope that his usage would catch on, but he seems to have thought he was continuing an age-old tradition rather than innovating.