"The Unknown citizen" by W.H Auden.

Essay by jessicagUniversity, Master'sA+, May 2003

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The Unknown citizen

By W.H. Auden

Starting with the title one gets the feeling of anonymity; that is he was just one in many. It is a play on "The unknown soldier". It is obvious that this is in fact a report and the dedication "To JS/07/M/378" further proves the idea of no individuality. W.H. Auden had become the unofficial poet laurite of his time, and although the poet laurite is known for being the voice of establishment I feel that he was the exact opposite; the voice of antiestablishment. Wilfred Owen was a major influence on Auden and it is fair to say that Auden was an indirect continuation of the world war poets. This poem was written in the early to mid 30s around the time of Hitler's rise. Therefore one is impelled to feel that W.H. Auden agreed with D.H. Lawrence's "illusion of liberty". That is that free countries elude us into thinking we are free where in reality these 'free' countries have just found a more subliminal way of controlling us resulting in the same fascist state where individualism is no more, you are the state.

It is a de personification of a human being in that he acts in the way he is expected to "He held the proper opinions for the time of the year". The first line "He was found by the Bureau ..." makes one think of two things. Firstly "He was found" makes it very impersonal; no name but He. Secondly from the word "Bureau" I feel an ironic attack on bureaucracy.

The Unknown Citizen is written in official ese i.e. a government style of writing. It has an abab rhyme scheme throughout the poem except for occasional breaks. One of these breaks is to allow "Fudge Motors Inc". This no...