Refugee Blues

he poem “Refugee Blues" is a poem by W. H. Auden, written in 1939, one of a number of poems Auden wrote during the war. Auden was a British poet but was American from 1946. He is very clever the way he evokes feelings such as loneliness and sympathy for the readers.

The poem is set in England, however there is no precise location as the characters wander and search for different places after being rejected from their last area, as they are only concerned with seeking refuge (hence “Refugee Blues”). It is safe to assume that they are in England as there is a cultural reference made in the third stanza where it says “In the village churchyard there grows old yew, every spring it blossoms anew” which shows that they are in Britain as the yew tree is something that is commonly grown in England. The actual physical setting changes once they determine that there is no place for them here or unwanted as they move to a different location nearly every stanza. We see this in many stanzas, an example is when they “Came to a public meeting; the speaker got up and said: “If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread””, and then we see them in a later stanza going “down to the harbour upon the quay”. This shows that they are scared and desperately need to stay as they are quick to leave the previous area because after they had been accused, they move to the next location.

The main characters involved in W.H.Auden’s poem are the refugees, the consul and the committee. The persona is included with the refugees. This is shown on line 4 where they say “once we had a country”. There is a sense that the persona is talking to someone else which is shown with the repetition of “my dear” and the stanzas being written in the first person plural. The consul shows anger and frustration on line 10, direct speech is used to show the harsh truth of what he had said. The committee does not offer any help and they are asked “to return next year” is the best they could possibly do for...