W. H. Auden: Poems

The Unknown Citizen

What does the speaker of this poem represent?

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Interestingly, and ironically, the speaker himself is also unknown. The professionals in the poem— “his employers,” “our Social Psychology workers,” “our researchers into Public Opinion,” “our Eugenicist”— are just as anonymous and devoid of personality. While a person might be persuaded that he is free or happy, the evidence of his life shows that he is just one more cog in the faceless, nameless bureaucratic machine.