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
saint,
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
generation.
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their
education.
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.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.............................................

早餐 said...

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

GOOD........................................

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Use a book as a bee does flowers.......................................................

Anonymous said...

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怡JanellSyverson0326 said...

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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宥妃 said...

Lets cross the bridge when we come to it............................................................

rlkris said...

自然是上帝最偉大的神來之筆。 ............................................................

政倫政倫 said...

Many a true word is spoken in jest...................................................................

育淑 said...

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Quality is better than quantity.................................................................

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

first catch your hare, then cook him. ..................................................

Anonymous said...

Learning makes a good man better and ill man worse.............................................................

韋陳富 said...

道歉是人類一定必要的禮節..................................................

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

我是天山,等待一輪明月。......................................................................