W. H Auden is known as an Oxford poet. He was a versatile writer. He played a very important role as the leader of Oxford poets. Thus Auden is popular as the most representative poet of the thirties. He was influenced by Eliot, Hopkins, Kipling, Freud and Marx.

Auden’s literary career is divided into two phases. In the first phase he was influenced by both Marx and Freud. Their theories played vital role in the career of this poet. Thus his early poetry appears as a strange fusion of Freudian and Marxist views. His interest in psychological state became very deep. He supported the left wing political ideologies.

The main theme of his early poetry is social criticism and protest. This early poetry expresses the poet’s reaction to the political, social and economic issues of 1930s. Freudian phases and Marxian metaphors found a place in Auden’s writings. The contemporary political tensions and social and economic unrest are the important subjects of his early poetry. He treats these subjects with wit and irony.

Scorn is the predominant note of Auden’s poetry. He sings of human failure in a rapture of distress. He found his subjects among the sordid realities of diseased social order. The tone during this early phase is that of an aloof commentator. Auden’s poetry is noted for its objectivity also. The final impact of his poetry is intellectual not emotional. Auden described the thirties as a low and dishonest decade. In this decade there was wide spread unemployment and unrest. The condition of life was pitiable. Auden’s poetry deals with all these issues.

The second phase shows a change in Auden’s interests. The poetry of this phase reflects his deep understanding of life and its problems. He deals with the response of the individual to social living. The Unknown Citizen is a fine example of it. This poem is a beautiful satire on the loss of the individuality in a bureaucratic society. After some time Auden gave up communism. Consequently his poetry took a religious and metaphysical turn.

Auden is a great poet, artist and experimenter in verse form. He is widely acclaimed as a poetic craftsman. His poetic style is precise and epigrammatic. It is said that he learnt the symbolic method from Eliot and the use of assonance and internal rhyme form from Hopkins. He used modern idioms and vivid images in his poetry. In short, Auden’s poetry is fascinating because it traces 20th century quest.   


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