W. H. Auden: Poems

Auden's Poetry and "Home and Away": Art in Wartime 12th Grade

W.H Auden’s poetry investigates a decent society as it is oppressed by political ideology and then by war. The prevailing political motivation of a fraught time period and the destructive impact of war are also illustrated in the Australian picture book Home and Away (2008, John Marsden). Both Auden and Marsden represent their ideas about political governance and the manipulation exerted by regimes for the sake of control. For both men, ‘politics’ refers to the activities associated with the governance of a country or area reflecting judicious power. Their texts represent how political perspectives, language, and graphics influence an individual’s understanding of the world itself.

Auden represents the prevailing political motivations of his time, a period when the destructive impact of totalitarianism distorted the societal norms of his era; his personal experience of social instability informed in his poetry. Auden’s compelling ballad, ‘O What is that sound which so thrills the ear’ (1932) reflects the increasing tension as tyrannical leaders (Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini) exerted their power. By 1953, his ‘Shield of Achilles’ reflected the Cold War authoritarian aggression that manipulated the population of even the Western...

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