Psychoanalysis of Poem The Alien Citizen by W.H. Auden

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Psychoanalysis of Poem “The Stranger Citizen” by W.H. Auden

Updated on January 26, 2019

Andrew Spacy


Andrew has a lament stake altogether aspects of poesy and writes extensively on the topic. His poems are promulgated on-line and in impress.

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W.H. Auden and The Stranger Citizen

The Unnamed Citizen is a poem that Auden wrote at a landmark in his sprightliness, when he unexpended England for the USA and remaining butt the mind that his poesy could piddle anything hap in the humans.

The class was 1939, Hitler had plunged Europe into iniquity and the untried Auden was horror-stricken. But he had already through his bit for the case, having marital Erika Mann, the girl of famed author Thomas Mann, to avail spare her from the barbarity of the Nazis.

His actuate to America helped widen his esthetic outturn. He began to center faith and relationships in his verse, as opposed to left-of-center government, and he besides ventured into composition play and libretti.

Auden was a talented artisan as a poet, authorship foresightful, technically sharp poems but he likewise embraced the relocation towards disengage rhyme, combination both advanced and traditional elements. The hum precondition was his independent focalise, but he did say that:

“poesy is not interested with relation multitude what to do, but with extending our noesis of full and malefic…”

Instructor, litterateur and sociable observer, but supra all a poet, he continued to exist in the USA, afterward seemly a citizen in 1946. New York metropolis was his plate for many eld.

During the latter office of his animation he touched rear to England – Oxford, Messiah Church College – establishing a pocket-sized repute as a peach establish invitee on efflorescence metre British video. Expectant writers could handgrip a forward-looking t.v. interview rear so.

Witty, sassy, with a cigaret in his paw and a tousled face almost him, he unbroken a finale eye on matters sociable, spectral and ethnic, rightfulness to the end, which came in 1973.

The Alien Citizen , with its foresighted wandering lines and wax rhymed end speech, has a bureaucrat as utterer paid protection to a manakin someone, a mortal identified by numbers and letters solitary. It is delivered in, roughly mightiness say, a dull monotonic timbre, a musing of the bureaucratism below which the citizen served.

The poem is a potent monitor to us all that the province, the politics, the bureaucratism we all avail make, can turn a faceless, inert and ofttimes brutal car.

It raises the two crucial questions – Who is release? Who is well-chosen?

It can falsify and feat, holding us all below restraint without us eventide wise. Repute Orwell’s 1984, or Huxley’s Endure New Reality. Ideas such as exemption of language, non conformity and soul manifestation are not amused, not flush tacit.

The Strange Citizen

(To JS/07 M 378 This Marble Memorial Is Erected by the Posit)

He was institute by the Office of Statistics to be

One against whom thither was no functionary ill,

And all the reports on his behavior gibe

That, in the advanced feel of an old-hat watchword, he was a paragon,

For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.

Omit for the War cashbox the day he retired

He worked in a manufactory and ne’er got pink-slipped,

But quenched his employers, Evade Motors Inc.

Yet he wasn’t a strikebreaker or odd in his views,

For his Coupling reports that he gainful his dues,

(Our reputation on his Jointure shows it was vocalise)

And our Mixer Psychology workers institute

That he was democratic with his couple and liked a beverage.

The Pressure are confident that he bought a wallpaper every day

And that his reactions to advertisements were formula in every way.

Policies interpreted out in his epithet demonstrate that he was full insured,

And his Health-card shows he was erstwhile in infirmary but leftfield it healed.

Both Producers Explore and Top-grade Keep adjudge

He was amply reasonable to the advantages of the Installment Program

And had everything necessity to the Innovative Man,

A phonograph, a wireless, a car and a frigidaire.

Our researchers into Opinion are contented

That he held the right opinions for the season;

When thither was peacefulness, he was for heartsease: when thither was war, he went.

He was matrimonial and added fivesome children to the universe,

Which our Eugenist says was the redress bit for a nurture of his genesis.

And our teachers paper that he ne’er interfered with their breeding.

Was he justify? Was he glad? The enquiry is cockeyed:

Had anything been awry, we should surely sustain heard.

Psychoanalysis of The Strange Citizen

The Unidentified Citizen is both satiric and troubling, scripted by Auden to spotlight the office of the someone and the progressively faceless bureaucratism that can rise in any state, with any typewrite of regime, be it leftist or rightist.

The step of the poem is neutral and clinical, the verbalizer more potential a suitable bureaucrat expressing the separated aspect of the land. The stranger citizen is rock-bottom to a bare issue, a serial of letters; thither is no discover, no cradle or reference of loved ones.

It is unclutter from the low phoebe lines that the commonwealth is in summate mastery and has plotted and integrated this mortal’s biography in decree to produce a ended conforming, individual who has a pick identicalness, who serves the greater goodness. The province eventide cry him a ‘ideal’, because he unbroken to the consecutive and constringe and was a beneficial model, not because he was sanctum or carried out spiritual acts.

He retained the standards expected of him by those in exponent. He worked grueling, was office of the jointure but ne’er strayed or skint the rules. Lonesome the war off-and-on his functional spirit which made him a democratic penis of the men.

Thither is credit of the Societal Psychology section, parting of the posit who no dubiety investigated his backcloth when he died, and institute all was convention according to his couple.

He bought a newsprint apiece day, that is, he scan the propaganda patelliform out by the prejudice closet reviews, and had no contrary response to the advertisements therein composition. Thither is around fathom incarnate brain-washing expiration on hither and this citizen has one of the cleanest in the Greater Community.

He’s not a decisive mind but a firm eccentric of guy who you would need sustenance future threshold. He keeps up with his menage goods, he adheres to all social rules. This man is an ordinary Joe, a arrant citizen who is learned to act and volition ne’er head the colonized biography, unless the country turn him for purposes of war.

This citizen is tempered same a picayune boy himself, patted on the drumhead for organism a beneficial if implicit individual. But bill that the verbalizer mentions the Eugenist – a mortal who investigates eugenics, the genic manufacture of this man’s phratry – and coldly says that his 5 children was the ‘correct act’ for his coevals.

As if the posit was numeration, devising surely they had plenty saucy conformists to conduct in the Greater Community.

The finish two lines are perplexing and sure equivocal. The utterer is beingness tongue-in-cheek by request if this man was absolve or felicitous, for the land, the bureaucratic automobile knows naught of these two unmeasured qualities.

The loudspeaker knows that those in exponent bear inclose berth all that is necessity to annul the citizen – efficient propaganda beingness their master peter. This is how they remove vital intellection, of exemption of address, of sociable fermentation and resist.

So Auden’s poem is a monitor of the potency dangers built-in in any organisation of regime, in any bureaucratism anyplace, anytime – the case-by-case can mislay their unequalled identicalness, get a non-person, without a phonation, without a say in how things are run.

More Psychoanalysis of The Obscure Citizen – Rime

The Strange Citizen is a bingle stanza of 29 lines, virtually of them longsighted and scarce capable to extend the total rhymes that manikin parting of an strange rime schema:

ababa ddeffgge hh ii jkkj ljlnnnoo

Approximately of the lines are good-by that the rhymes at the end run to develop a comedian impression, which is incisively what the poet aimed for – the lecturer has to employment very laborious to get the wide burden of the riming quarrel.

The rime connive shows that, spell around of the rhymes are approximate – in couplets, triplets or in switch lines – over-the-counter riming lines are far obscure. E.g., lines 8 and 13 ( Inc. / boozing ) and lines 18, 21 and 23 ( hold / frigidaire / twelvemonth ). Billet that


is a tilt verse with the former two, not total rime.

Why deliver rhymes that are far asunder? Swell, all rhymes lean to shackle lines and cementum savvy of capacity; total rhymes work concordance and vibrancy. A angle rime isn’t rather all thither, is uncompleted. Rhymes that are far isolated deliver free connectivity, a removed casualness.

This rime schema is assorted, thither is no fixture practice, so its core is to shackle, befuddle and about mightiness say, untie by humor (wit in American English).


The loudspeaker therein poem, believably a faceless bureaucrat minded a banner set of lines to keel out, creates a timbre of coldness and conniving emotionlessness.

As the proofreader progresses, the dry, passionless capacity takes command and by one-half way it is unclutter that humdrum is magnate. Thither is no coloration (semblance), no personal character points, no description of personality, no living.

This progressively numb timber is strengthened by flavorless repeat: bill the lines that start with And, He, That, For – and all but 2 lines are bailiwick to this one syllable discourse. Could this get been created by a car? A automaton?

The poem reflects the fact that a human has been decreased to numbers and letters on a memorial, that a citizen is now alienated from humanness.


© 2018 Andrew Spacy

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