Jonathan might like to note that far from being an obscure recording, Auden's own reading of "The shield of Achilles" can be heard on YouTube, like so much else. There's gold in them thar hills! -
As to the "long American A", I don't hear it as longer than the long British A: is "grass" (sound as in "fat") longer than "grarse"? It certainly doesn't bother me at all.
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