W.H. Auden as a Poet

The full name of W. H Auden is Wystan Hugh Auden. He is known as an eminent Oxford poet. He was a great writer who wrote poetry, plays, travelogues and prose. He played a very significant part as the leader of Oxford poets. He is admired as the most representative poet of the nineteen thirties. His writing was influenced by T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, G.M. Hopkins, Wilfred Owen, Kipling, Robert Graves, Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx.
Auden’s literary career is divided into two phases. In the beginning phase of his poetic career he was influenced by both Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. Their philosophy played very important role in the poetic career of Auden. That is why his early poetry appears as a strange synthesis of Freudian and Marxist views. His attention in psychological state became very profound. He supported the left wing political ideologies.
The major theme of Auden’s early poetry is social criticism and protest. This early poetry expresses the his reaction to the political, social and economic issues of 1930s. Freudian phases and Marxian metaphors found a place in Auden’s writings. The contemporary political tensions and social and economic unrest are the important subjects of his early poetry. He treats these subjects with wit and irony.
Scorn is the predominant note of Auden’s poetry. He sings of human failure in a rapture of distress. He found his subjects among the sordid realities of diseased social order. The tone during this early phase is that of an aloof commentator. Auden’s poetry is noted for its objectivity too. The final impact of his poetry is intellectual but not emotional. Auden described the thirties as a low and dishonest decade. In this decade there was wide spread unemployment and unrest. The condition of life was pitiable. Auden’s poetry deals with all these issues.
The second phase shows a change in Auden’s interests. The poetry of this phase reflects his deep understanding of life and its problems. He deals with the response of the individual to social living. The Unknown Citizen is a fine example of it. This poem is a beautiful satire on the loss of the individuality in a bureaucratic society. After some time Auden gave up communism. Consequently his poetry took a religious and metaphysical turn.
Auden is a great poet, artist and experimenter in verse form. He is widely acclaimed as a poetic craftsman. His poetic style is precise and epigrammatic. It is said that he learnt the symbolic method from Eliot and the use of assonance and internal rhyme form from Hopkins. He used modern idioms and vivid images in his poetry. In short, Auden’s poetry is fascinating because it traces 20th century quest.
Hareshwar Roy
Satna, Madhya Pradesh


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