11 Nov 2017

Say This City Has Ten Millions Souls by W.H Auden

Say This City Has Ten Millions Souls
W.H Auden
Auden was born in 1907 and was educated at Oxford. He moved to the U.S in 1939 and became an American citizen.

W.H Auden in this touching poem captures the sense of alienation and isolation of outsiders coming to a country not their own. Particularly, the poet is talking about the German Jews who fled their country afraid of Hitler s’ persecutions.

The passport is used as a symbol of personal identity, yet it is meaningless document that excludes any human considerations, the only reality is that the possession of the passport is not the fact of being alive. The sense of deprivation is remarkably conveyed through the image of pampered dog, the fish which swim freely and the birds which sing in the woods-the pity is that the human life falls beneath the animal level.

Man is imprisoned in thousand shackles of race, colour and creed, of nationality, of passports. These immigrants become hunted, the most unwanted and are being tracked by the soldiers and for them all doors and windows are closed. There is no one who can hear and solve their basic problems.

 This poem reflects the plight and bad condition of the German Jews who fled from Germany to ward off the atrocities of Adolf Hitler. But they were not sure that they will face the same problems in the country where they are going to settle.

In America, their basic human rights are not being recognized. They are being treated worse than animal level. They have no passports and are considered dead in official language. There the voice of Hitler on radio terrifies them. The native politicians politicize this issue in order to get fame and to get some votes.

In that country the fish and birds are free and dogs are looked after well but basics human rights are not being given. The city is very big having thousand storied buildings but there is not a small place for German Jews who are only confined to their camps in the open areas in the intense weather.

This poem is a severe criticism on the so called civilized American society. They raise the slogans of giving basics human rights but this law does not apply at their own country. This story is a criticism on the urban life. Everybody is moving to and trying to settle in the big cities but in administrative point of view it becomes very difficult to provide them the basic necessities of life.


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