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on 22 October 2015

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Transcript of REFUGEE BLUES

Refugee Blues by W. H. Auden
Analysis by Inta, Lina, Maisara & Maryam
Auden's poetry was noted for its stylistic and technical achievement, its engagement with politics, morals, love, and religion, and its variety in tone, form and content.

Auden had a clipped, satiric, and ironic style, and has written multiple poems, including : "Funeral Blues", "Johnny", "Lullaby" and many others.

Auden was a prolific writer of prose essays, and psychological and religious subjects.
About W. H. Auden (1907-1973)

Say this city has ten million souls,
Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes:
Yet there's no place for us, my dear, yet there's no place for us.

Once we had a country and we thought it fair,
Look in the atlas and you'll find it there:
We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there now.

In the village churchyard there grows an old yew,
Every spring it blossoms anew:
Old passports can't do that, my dear, old passports can't do that.

The consul banged the table and said,
"If you've got no passport you're officially dead":
But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive.

Went to a committee; they offered me a chair;
Asked me politely to return next year:
But where shall we go to-day, my dear, but where shall we go to-day?

Came to a public meeting; the speaker got up and said;
"If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread":
He was talking of you and me, my dear, he was talking of you and me.

Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky;
It was Hitler over Europe, saying: "They must die";
We were in his mind, my dear, we were in his mind.

Saw a poodle in a jacket fastened by a pin,
Saw a door opened and a cat let in:
But they weren't German Jews, my dear, but they weren't German Jews.

Went down the harbour and stood upon the quay,
Saw the fish swimming as if they were free:
Only ten feet away, my dear, only ten feet away.

Jews were forced to leave Germany.

However, many German Jews were unable to find countries that were wiling to take them in.

In the midst of the Great Depression(1929-39), many Americans believed that refugees would compete with them for jobs and overburden social programs set up to assist the needy.

Most countries, including the United States and Britain, offered excuses for not letting in more refugees.

Many German and Austrian Jews tried to go to the United States but could not obtain visas needed to enter. Even though news of violent pogroms of November 1938 was widely reported, Americans remained reluctant to welcome Jewish refugees.

May 1939, the British government restricted immigration into Palestine.
History of German Jews: Background Information on Poem
Walked through a wood, saw the birds in the trees;
They had no politicians and sang at their ease:
They weren't the human race my dear, they weren't the human race.

Dreamed I saw a building with a thousand floors,
A thousand windows and a thousand doors;
Not one of them were ours, my dear, not on of them were ours.

Stood on a great plain in the falling snow;
Ten thousand soldiers marched to and fro:
Looking for you and me, my dear, looking for you and me.

The theme of this 'song' is the abuse of human rights experienced not only by German Jews but by other Jews and by refugees anywhere.

Refugee': a person who flees to another country to escape being persecuted for their religion or politics, or to escape war.

'Blues': a slow, sad song, traditionally with 3-line stanzas. The Blues were first sung by African Americans working on slave plantations in the southern states of the USA; these melancholy ballads expressed the unhappiness of the slaves' lives.

'consul': an official appointed by a government to live in a foreign city and protect and promote the government's citizens and interests there.
Theme and Keywords
Full transcript