September 1, 1939 Analysis

Topics: World War II, Germany, Love Pages: 3 (890 words) Published: July 20, 2011
Heitor Oliveira
English 1B
Midterm Exam

September 1, 1939 analysis

Written by W. H. Auden, the poem September 1, 1939 is a criticism of the institution of war throughout history until the outbreak of WWII, ending with a message of hope for the human race. The poem has nine eleven-lined stanzas with no set of rhymes, scheme, or a perfect meter, referring to different topics of oppression, war and inner conflict. Referring to the German invasion in Poland in 1939, Auden writes while sitting in a bar in New York City, noting the actions of those around him: people continue to carry on their normal lives in spite of the horrors of war going on abroad. The message of September 1, 1939 is timeless. Although referring to an event more than seventy years ago, the poem gained popularity following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.The poem is a criticism of multiple things in society at the time. Auden appeals to man to reflect on themes such how German history led to the outbreak of WWII, the democratic industrialized man, and human sins concluding with a message of hope: people need to overlook their boundaries and differences and recognize that we must love each other.

The first two stanzas refer to the German invasion of Poland and other historical accounts of war that may have brought glory to countries, but many people suffered. In the first stanza the speaker has a obvious tone of sadness, which is very noticeable due to the use of words as “Uncertain, afraid, anger and fear”. In the second stanza the speaker makes a reference to Linz, which is the city where Hitler was born. Auden chooses the words “psychopathic god” to refer to Hitler, giving that it was his the decision to invade Poland. The last two sentences of the second stanza are:

“The unmentionable odor of death
Offends the September night.”

Those two lines are a clear reference to the invasion. He uses the word “unmentionable” to express that the death and destruction was...
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