Major Themes of W.H. Auden’s Poetry

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W.H. Auden is a philosophical and conversational modern poet, combining close commentary with nonchalant musings. Auden’s poetry has a number of different themes which enriches his poetic style. From the several themes, we’ll analyze his major themes as follow;

Love is Fleeting as Theme;

While Auden is thought for his poems about heady themes corresponding to demise, totalitarianism and the function of poetry, he’s additionally famed for his love poems. Many of them, corresponding to “As I Walked Out One Evening,” “Lullaby” and “O Tell Me the Truth About Love,” feature stirring passages about how lovely and galvanizing love could be, and “Funeral Blues” encompasses a man deeply in love with one other. However, for Auden, that’s not all he has to say about love. Almost all of those poems have a sobering undercurrent of sorrow, or of the will to remind readers that life, and love, are brief and are affected by the vicissitudes of existence like illness and time. Love is sweet, however it doesn’t exist in a universe devoid of struggling waning of affection or, in fact, demise.

Reality in Poetry as Theme;

Auden’s poetry evokes the fear of dwelling in the course of the 20th century, when dictators in Europe suppressed their folks’s freedoms, led their nations into warfare, and resorted to barbaric ways of mass slaughter. In a couple of of his poems he wonders what the function of poetry will be within the face of such nightmares, and why he ought to honor the demise of 1 man when so many had been being killed on the battlefield, on the streets, and in gasoline chambers. Writing about Freud, he asks, “of whom shall we speak” when “there are so many we shall have to mourn.” In the elegy for Yeats, he asserts his perception that poetry can nonetheless, elevate the human spirit and “persuade us to rejoice” and “teach the free man how to praise.” Auden is a realist in that he understands poetry won’t immediately affect something, however its behavior of calling things by their actual names can carry us into a greater relationship with actuality.

Read About: Analysis of “The Unknown Citizen” by W.H. Auden

Theme of Modern Horrors;

Auden’s poetry is typically cerebral, generally brutally sincere and evocative of the historic context during which he’s writing. He is famed for addressing the problems of his day in a transferring and relevant manner. The horrors of the modern world don’t escape his incisive pen; he offers with the dictators and their mad quest for world domination, the downfall of masses beneath their leaders’ spell, the stultifying bureaucratic state, the Spanish Civil War, the bleakness and maybe impossibility of the upcoming days, the psychic facet of warfare, the awful panorama, the martyrdom of heroes and the demise of poets, the unthinking use of modern instruments, and the bludgeoning of the human spirit by means of the great weight of historical past. Through all this, Auden retains some hope for the upcoming days, mentioning the liberty that comes from recognizing our true situation no matter our circumstances are.

Theme of Death;

Death is an ever-present actuality in Auden’s poems, chopping life and love brief. It impacts each man, even these of prominence and stature, like Yeats and Freud. It can come within the type of martyrdom, illness or old age or by means of warfare. Death is a weapon utilized by dictators in addition to a natural part of the human cycle of life and demise. Auden doesn’t shrink back from this theme, nor the difficulties related to it. He brazenly grieves for a deceased lover, suggests the futility of the battle between troopers and their enemies in “Ode V,” and showcases how a terrific thoughts will be rendered ineffective with the onslaught of bodily erosion. Death cuts brief careers and poses troublesome non secular questions, however, the dwelling can carry their messages and restate their work, albeit at a remove from the uniqueness. Overall, Auden’s poems rejoice life, whereas we’ve it, they usually, immediately face the truth that life is all the time reduced and brief by demise one way or the other.

Theme of Bureaucracy and Totalitarianism;

This has been one of the major themes of W.H. Auden, whereas he lived throughout the age of great totalitarianism dictators Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and Franco, and say the rise of bureaucratic state. His poems cope with each of those points. Poems together with “The Shield of Achilles,” “Friday’s Child,” and “September 1, 1939” tackle the hubris and greed that led dictators to amass armies, brainwash their residents, and unleash warfare upon the world. He catalogs the assorted methods the bureaucracy retains tabs on its residents and tries to cut back them to statistics and figures. Governments do all the things they will to quench the human spirit, however Auden’s perception within the worth of poetry in addition to the enduring human spirit counteracts this malicious tendency.

Read About: Analysis of “In the Praise of Limestone” by W.H. Auden

Theme of Sufferings;

W.H. Auden’s poetry will be humorous, gentle and sweet, however lots of his best works cope with the struggling that comes from being human. He writes of the rise and rule of the dictators and the deadening bureaucratic state; the extinguishing of the light of great males who’ve been useful to the world; the attrition of affection by means of unfaithfulness, illness, time, and demise; the crippling nature of satisfaction and greed; religious doubt; warfare and the complacency and apathy evinced by others once we are undergoing this struggling. Sometimes we undergo at others’ arms, and typically we carry it upon ourselves.


So these were the few major themes of W.H. Auden’s poetry. These themes will be present in his different poems like, “The Unknown Citizen,” where he compares the traditional living civilian to the unknown soldier who dies in a battle. By all these themes, Auden is rightly thought-about as a modern poet.

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Shaheer, owner of Literature Times, is a BS (Hons) English graduate and loves to write literary articles. Apart from that, he loves to explore technology, reading books and writing about his own life.

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