An Evaluation of Audens Work About Human Nature

Topics: Funeral Blues

This is exemplified in the poetry of W.H. Auden, as his works display {more links to question}.. The internal monologue of Funeral Blues highlights the abstract impacts of death, while the authorial perspective of September 1, 1939 offers Auden’s personal commentary on those who knowingly lack a social conscience, and the almost-narrative of Refugee Blues illustrates how trauma can provide a significant shift to the perception of self. Each of Auden’s poems centralise on specific ideas that invoke a collective awareness of past and future actions, as well as Auden’s personal desperation for the united improvement of humanity.

Grief is the symbiosis between intellectual and emotive states of desperation. Primarily, grief forces a re-evaluation of human significance on an existential level and reshapes individual perception of self. This is epitomised in Auden’s Funeral Blues, where the speaker contemplates the irreversible damage to internal perspective of the intricacies of the world after loss. The first two stanzas of the poem demonstrate the immediate response to death in a contrast of domestic and public contexts.

The use of auditory imperatives such as “silence and muffled reflect a frustration in the misalignment of thought and actuality, and the speaker’s need for the reality to be physically influenced by their despair. Additionally, the anaphoric ‘my’ figuratively represents the sincerely personal impression the loss had on the speaker, as well as the unforeseen impact on individual normalcy.

The symbolic North… South…East and West’ offers insight to the intrinsic nature of the relationship with the deceased, and how without that person, the speaker has lost a previously absolute sense of purpose and direction.

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‘Stop all the clocks’ introduces the motif of time, alluding to Auden’s previous poems, and conveying an irrational will to stop time so the speaker can metacognitively process the magnitude of the loss. Finally, the ironic romantic images of the ocean’ and ‘the wood’ illustrates a vast inconsequentiality of the foundation of the universe. Auden adopts an egocentric view of how the world should grieve for his loss, he expects the universe to discontinue in normalcy and as more time passes, an existential frustration grows. Auden explores loss in an abstract sense, his individual experiences have lost original meaning yet gained pessimistic retrospect. In broader society, he reassures each person of humanity’s capacity to endure significant shift in existential purpose. Developing a social conscience requires the cognisant act of projecting beyond personal context. A lack of interest in injustices past the realm of immediate existence suggest not only apathy towards broader cultural discourse, but ignorant self-interest. In September 1, 1939, Auden encourages moral responsibility by reflecting on the events of WWII before they occur. At the conclusion of the 1930s, the alliterative personification of a ‘dishonest decade’ comments on contextual political turmoil alluding to Hitler’s invasion of Poland, conveying global disconnect in the interest if self-preservation.

The pathetic fallacy of ‘neutral air’ refers directly to lack of American involvement in war and moreover a nationwide example of wilful ignorance, despite impending global conflict. Auden describes this purposeful ignorance hyperbolically as a ‘euphoric dream’, portraying resentment for humanity’s inherent unwillingness to face a known threat. He also remarks that an oxymoronic apathetic grave awaits individuals who narrow their understanding of human complexities by lacking compassion. The extended hyperbolic metaphor of stanza 5 relates back to a deep-seated need for normalcy, as portrayed through the repetitive emphatic language of the lights must never go out / the music must always play’. Auden ironically judges the patrons of the bar, who are representative of humanity’s evasion of the global scale of imminent political struggle, despite history blatantly repeating itself. By criticizing America’s neutrality in political vision, Auden conveys his own social conscience by analysing the cataclysmic consequences of war, preceding its commencement. He flagrantly reveals the contentiousness of deciding against a global conscience in the interest of egocentricity, and in doing so, urges society to collectively challenge cultural criticism. Identity can be described as a combination of idiosyncratic qualities, external social perceptions and cultural roles. A significant trauma can affect the unity of a person’s self construal, and as Auden’s Refugee Blues suggests, offers opportunity for profound metacognition and self-awareness.

Observing New York as a refugee in the wake of WWII, the speaker juxtaposes ‘mansions’ and ‘holes.’ This highlights the polarity of humanity and the vastness of existence, which emphasises the desolation of the refugee experience. The biblical allusion of refugees ‘steal[ing] our daily bread’ conveys the institutionalized expectation of refugees negatively reorientating normalcy in day-to-day life. Further association of refugees with undesirable change to the framework of society is presented through the auditory imagery of the consul banged’, establishing deep political distrust, and therefore global isolation. The speaker also states once we had a country’ in the perspective of all German Jewish refugees, demonstrating sudden alteration in national identity. Similarly, the metaphorical rhyme of an old yew that ‘grows anew each spring, illustrates the resurrection of life surrounded by death, ironically alluding to the hopeless turnaround of refugee quality of life despite being referred to as ‘officially dead’. Auden approaches the unadulterated abuse of human rights and prolonged suffering of refugees by demonstrating the subtlety of their self-definition.

The superficial label of refugee pre-determines lack of opportunity and prosperity, utilising the emotive resonance of ‘my dear’ to procure an empathetic understanding of said sufferings. Auden is not only deeply reflective of the existential experience, but also exploratory of the capacity for self-reflection. His introspective commentary is an integral contribution to modern society, as it encourages humanity to improve upon collective negligence of marginalized individuals. In summation, Auden’s didactic poetry collection offers opportunity {q’n}, specifically through the poetic analysis of grief, social conscience, and identity in his respective works Funeral Blues, September 1, 1939 and Refugee Blues. Influenced by a war torn, politically unstable period of time, Auden effectively warns against a breakdown of civilised normality by subconsciously representing the undercurrent of human existence and urging immediate change to society.

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An Evaluation of Audens Work About Human Nature. (2021, Dec 25). Retrieved from

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