Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dorothy McMahon, Roy Miller, William McMahon

Degree Program

Department of English

Degree Type

Master of Arts


W. H. Auden shares with most of his contemporaries, including Yeats and Eliot, the goal of lighting modern man's way back to a sense of harmony with his universe--the certainty of identity which his ancestors enjoyed. In New Year Letter, Auden announces that the problem lies within man himself because each of us is possessed of a "double" nature, thus rendering us our own schismatics.

Auden finds that only with the help of divinity, specifically Christian, can the destructive element be overcome. To illustrate this solution in his poems then becomes Auden's great challenge. Employing a child-like voice or tone becomes his finest tool. It lies at the center of consciousness in most of his best works, providing the quality of "radical innocence" that the poet feels men must regain in order to become reunified within themselves and, simultaneously, reunited with grace.

If we can learn to "be honest like children," says Auden, and accept the nature of life and society, if we can accept and love ourselves for the unique beings that we are, then the path opens to a possible peace of mind and jay experienced in childhood. Thus, the child-like voice in Auden's poetry serves his chief purpose as a modern poet. His sophisticated adaptation of a child's point of view indeed illumines the path to the Just City.


Arts and Humanities | Creative Writing | English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles | Literature in English, North America | Poetry