Compare and Contrast : "The Unknown Citizen" and "The Nobodies"

Essay by isabellamargaretUniversity, Bachelor'sA, October 2006

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The two poems that will be compared and contrasted are W.H Auden's "The Unknown Citizen" and Eduardo Galeano's "Nobodies." Both poems describe two different societies of people and how their governments view their importance in their societies. Auden's depiction of the American masses is fascinatingly similar to that of Galeano's depiction of the people of Uruguay, in that neither group of people has their own identity or voice in their society, yet still both masses of people greatly differ in economic hierarchy.

Both of these poems use very different tones and images. For example, in "The Unknown Citizen", Auden says, "he was a saint" among other very positive descriptions of the American people. In the "Nobodies", Galeano uses an extremely negative tone when painting a picture of what the people of Uruguay are like. Galeano even compares the people of Uruguay to fleas, implying that they are like a parasite in their society.

I find it remarkable that these two pieces of poetry can be written so differently and have such different tones, yet both still leave me with the same sad feeling after reading them. Reading the "Nobodies" is almost like direct punch in the stomach--it is very clear that the people of Uruguay whom Galeano is describing are living horrible, sad lives. Galeano states in the poem that the nobodies "are not worth the bullet that kill them," clearly showing that no one cares about these people's opinions or views, nor cares when they were born, or even when they die. Similarly, Auden puts forth an image of "The Unknown Citizen" that tells the reader that the American masses are no more important or cared about than the people of Uruguay, which is shown when Auden mentions that, "he held the...