Essay on Refugee Blues

Words: 1012
Pages: 5

Refugee Blues W. H. Auden’s poem of despair, misery, and isolation, “Refugee Blues”, describes the hardships faced by two German Jewish refugees attempting to escape Hitler’s Germany. Published in autumn, 1939, Auden is surrounded by the anti-Sematic hatred that is growing in Germany six months prior to the outbreak of World War II. Auden utilizes this environment and the experiences of German Jews to express the abuse of human rights and the sentiments of refugees. For the near two thousand years that the Jewish people have lived in Europe, they have constantly battled anti-Semitism, having to defend themselves, physically and emotionally, time and time again. In 1920, Jewish people encountered anti-Semitism from the Nationalist …show more content…
Despite the meagre political aid available, refugees still remain lost in the commotion of diplomatic chaos. Additionally, an angry resistance was growing, and with a shortage of food due to the total war , many are against the idea proclaiming, “If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread” (17). Conversely, the biological death that Auden illustrates is clear, uncovering the isolation imposed by the Silent Majority (17), Hitler’s regime exterminating all Jewish people (19-21), and death squads sent to hunt down all Jews (34-36). As a poem, “Refugee Blues” captures the true feelings of refugees, through the plight of German Jews escaping Hitler’s Germany, reminding one of the extent to which humanity can fall. The title “Refugee Blues” presents more than the melancholy, blue, mood associated with the story of German Jewish refugees escaping Hitler’s reign; it mirrors the form and essence of a musical ‘blues’ composition. Technically, the poem echoes that of a ‘blues’ piece, a literary melancholic ‘ballad’. Having three-line stanzas, similar to traditional blues, Auden does what most blues writers do – take a single main theme and make variations on it, leading to a powerful finale. Auden consistently takes from the main idea of abuse of human rights, and transforms it; with each variation, the desolation increases, amplifying in power, finally ending