Sunday, April 5, 2009

Free Verse

The Unknown Citizen by W. H. Auden

He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
One against whom there was no official complaint,
And all the reports on his conduct agree
That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a
For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.
Except for the War till the day he retired
He worked in a factory and never got fired,
But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
Yet he wasn't a scab or odd in his views,
For his Union reports that he paid his dues,
(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)
And our Social Psychology workers found
That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.
The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day
And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.
Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,
And his Health-card shows he was once in hospital but left it cured.
Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare
He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Instalment Plan
And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,
A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.
Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;
When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he went.
He was married and added five children to the population,
Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.

“The Unknown Citizen” is about a solider who was found dead and not identified. His tomb is memorialized as a representation of all of the dead citizens who were/are not identified when they die. The poem describes the typical working class hero, “He worked in a factory and never got fired.” He was a completely normal and respectable person. The swift in the poem comes in the last two lines:Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.By saying this Auden implies that freedom and happiness, two core American values, are irrelevant. This adds irony to the entire poem. Auden is saying that a man can be a “saint” by societal standards and not necessarily be happy or free because of our society. We are not free because of the constraints and responsibilities of society. His happiness is also irrelevant. This poem questions American values as well as the American lifestyle.


In a Station of the Metro By Ezra Pound

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;

Petals on a wet, black bough.

“In a Station of the Metro” is a famous imagist poem. Its length of only fourteen exemplifies the importance of every word in the poem. The poem is also written in the haiku style. The poem compares the chaos of the metro station to nature. Imagist poetry is essentially a series of images just as “In a Station of the Metro” is. The first image is of the “faces in the crowd.” This first image is of a crowded subway station where unknown faces pass you by. The busy industrialized image is contrasted with the natural image of “petals on a wet, black bough.” Both of these images are created to compare and contrast between them. The contrast between them is the natural vs. artificial. However, they’re both the same in their feeling of anonymity.