GCE A/L English literature
Poets and poetry:
W.H. Auden (1907-1973)
Auden is a modern poet, employed as a professor at the Oxford university
in 1956. The threat caused by the second world war had its disastrous
effects. Auden seems to be influenced by the psychology of Freud.xl not
being pleased with the unpleasant atmosphere left behind by the
Industrial Development, he was "wrapped in amazement thinking how man
could find peace and contentment amidst drastic changes and the darker
perspectives of the people in the wartorn areas."
In Auden's popular poem THE UNKNOWN CITIZEN he highlights the image
of a person who has his rights to be
and happy a lifestyle, simple and "minding his own business" The
subtitle JS/07/M/378 emphasises the fact that this citizen is only a
file number to the state misfortune has dawned upon him depriving him of
his actual name. A prisoner, having "forfeited his rights as a citizen
by committing a crime" is called not by his name but by a number.
This particular citizen has been honest, carrying out his duties,
sociable and possessed all the requirements of the modern man. This
satirical poem highlights the fact that a citizen is pushed to meet with
the political and social norms, being concerned only about the ways and
means of bringing profit to the organizations concerned.
Banishing this sort of attitude Auden feels that a government is
created by the citizens to protect them. Auden in an ironic manner
emphasises the fact that the modern state moulds the man to serve and
answer the needs of the state.
Auden's diction style is simple yet idiomatic
consisting of the rhythm of the spoken language.
"He was found by the bureau of statistics to be
One against whom there was no official complaint"
"That in the modern sense of old fashioned word he was a saint"
Elevating this man and making him a distinct individual, Auden
highlights the discrepancy between the ordinary man and the man
possessed with extraordinary power. The rhyme pattern is superb and
distinctive. Auden's imagery - verbal images and auditory images are
There's subtle humour reigning throughout. Auden's name shines as one
of the most celebrated poets in English Literary works. Being rhythmical
and metrical Auden's poetry inextricably mingled inviting the priority
and appreciation of the reader.