Wystan Hugh Auden (1907-1973

Historical Background
1920s years: modernism 1930-40s: serious economical, social, political problems “Great Depression” How did the poets respond to it? - some of them – like Auden - begin to protest, they were active in political sense - others – like Dylan Thomas - were frightened by the reality, instead of criticized that, they turned inwards and creating a kind of personal private poetry Between the wars the world become sadder and darker. The poets didn’t feel that their job was to warn and inform people about the cruelty and aimlessness of the war, as everybody knew. Among the poems there was often a sense of tiredness, helplessness into the face of the world events. Poets had no power to change or influence. → the poems generally described personal experiences rather than world events

Anglo-American poet, playwright, novelist and critic his works is noted for its stylistic and technical achievements, its engagement with moral and political issues and its variety of tone, form and content central themes of his poetry are: personal love, politics and citizenship, religion and morals, and the relationship between unique human beings ant the anonymous, impersonal world of nature 21 February 1907: born in York, childhood in Birmingham; his father was a medical officer and a professor at University of Birmingham he studied at Christ Church, Oxford University, interested in politics, science, economic. Literature, philosophy, studied Marxism, Freudism and psychoanalysis he become central figure of the literary circle at the university 1928: he went to Berlin (because of his homosexuality) 1935: he returned to England, married Erika Mann (Thomas Mann’s daughter) because of convenience 1939: emigrated to the USA with Christopher Isherwood – WWII in Europe In New York he met the poet Chester Kallman (his lover) He read Kirkegard, Niebuhr, Shakespeare’s Christian-allegorical works → experience of Christianity → it influenced his works → discrepancy between his faith and his sexuality 1946: he became US citizen Returned to Europe: Italy, Austria 1956-61: professor of Poetry at Oxford University 29. September 1973: he died in Kirchstetten near Vienna

1st period of his life – political, social issues - to wish to become part of political events - to help political and social change by forms and subject of literature - write directly about political events and their effect on private live e.g. Spanish War Volumes: Poems 1930(full of young rebellion, included several description of the world The Orators 1932 Look Stranger 2nd period of his life – private, personal-lyrical - turned more and more inside - religious poetry Volumes: The Shield of Achilles 1955 Homage to Clio 1960 About the House 1966

The wax that held his wings together melted and Icarus crashed into the sea and died. The wings were successful but despite his father’s instructions.rice. Icarus flew too close to the sun. but only deals with the numbers.lemon8. Daedalus created wings out of feathers and wax so he and his son could escape. sacrificing their lives for the country → the poets uses this image in satirical sense. but the state knows nothing meaningful about this citizen Subtitle: the number indicates how depersonalized the state has become – everybody is simple a number to the state Satirical poem which pokes fun at modern day delight for statistics The poem does not deal with citizen’s wants. windows from the disaster.cs. needs and their emotions or name.contemporary: the poet himself and his poem Auden illustrates the human position and how people suffer • 1st stanza: portray of death in a more realistic and religious light (he simply compliments the Old Masters and their awareness of the suffering of humans and how it takes place)._H. they are different. → Message: people don’t care each other. a symbol to honour all soldiers who have died in battle. The unknown citizen could not possibly be either free or happy.wikipedia.renaissance: painter. Ploughman doesn’t pay attention to the tragedy. a monument to the faceless citizens who serve the state.The Unknown Citizen (1940) Title: countries have monuments to the “Unknown Soldier”.nl/life/musee/museebeauxarts.html . Tone: satirical and ironical - Musée des Beaux Arts (1940) Title: taken from the name of a museum that he visited in Brussels (in translation: The Museum of Fine Arts) The poem is based on the painting: The Fall of Icarus by Brueghel.at the beginning “miraculous birth” ↔ at the end the tragedy of a death Auden recognizes that Icarus’ story can be compared to that of Jesus’: both died alone. Brueghel ._Auden http://poetrypages. it is the greatest fear of people. 3 ages are mingled: . society paid no attention People turn away.ancient Greek myth . they are insensitive - - - - Bibliography: http://en. They don’t want to consider death. shut the doors. where everybody does right things. Ship-man must have seen him but didn’t want to see him. the datas → people are no longer individuals The style is clinical and objective → imitate the official statistical reports → dry and boring presentation of statistics A statistical ideal society is presented.htm http://www. another situation where people are suffering such as “the aged” waiting to die. Background: Icarus and his father Daedalus.the reality of everyday life ↔ the big tragedy of history or private life .edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/68. follows what the government says therefore the person is happy and fulfilled The question: “Was he free? Was he happy?” → The answer is a very definite NO. while the others are happy like the “children” • 2bd stanza: the suffering of everyday life Opposites: .org/wiki/W. dates. a Greek god were imprisoned by the King of the Island of Crete. The end of the poem: people don’t protest.

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