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Wystan Hugh Auden 1907 - 1973

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Wystan Hugh Auden 1907 - 1973

Wystan Auden was born in York and educated at Christ Church College, Oxford. He was seen as one of the 'progressive poets' of the 1930s. These writers held left-wing views, or indeed openly Marxist, and were concerned with social problems. Auden spent time travelling; he lived for some time in pre-Hitler Berlin, sharing rooms with Christopher Isherwood (he was a declared gay). Auden also went to Spain in 1937, during the civil war, to serve as an ambulance driver on the republican side. The experience was in many ways traumatic for him, due to the horrors of the war. In 1937 he married Erika Mann, daughter of the German novelist Thomas Mann, to give her British nationality so that she could escape from Nazi Germany. In 1938 he went to China with Isherwood to follow the China-Japan war. In 1939 he and Isherwood went to live in America, when the war broke out. In 1946 Auden became an American citizen. However, he never lost contact with Europe: he died in Vienna in 1973.


● Refugee Blues

This is a poem about a political refugees and is in the form of a blues song. Its subject is the Jews who in 1939 had to flee from Germany because of Nazi persecution. Here is built an analogy of the jews with all suffering and persecuted races in history. Death is present throughout, and the poem ends with the image of the soldiers looking for the Jews.


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