How The Writers Of ‘Refugee Blues’ By Auden And ‘The Last Night’ Convey Meaning Through Their Choices Of Language And Structure

2369 words - 10 pages

In both texts, a key concept is implemented: ‘Despair.’ Despair is presented in both poems through the oppression of the Jewish People; in both poems they manage to create a feeling of alienation in conjunction with isolation through manipulating their imagery and tone. ‘Refugee Blues’ is rooted in the 1930′s pre-second world war, when the Jewish communities were being punished for countless mistakes they had not even made. If we break down the title of both texts we can already begin to interpret the different tones, as well as emotions that will be in the pieces. ‘Refugee’ comes from the word refuge, which means safety, safety for the people who have been forced to leave their country in ...view middle of the document...

The poem is all read in a first person perspective of a German Jewish man talking to his wife/companion that is also a ‘German’ because of the phrase ‘But they weren’t German Jews.’ On the contrary, In ‘The Last Night’ we read the story through a third person’s perspective, additionally the narrator mainly concentrates on two Jewish captives, Andre and Jacob; two children amongst the other captives all of whom are unknowingly waiting to be taken to a concentration camp. We see that initially the children Andre and Jacob are almost unaware of their situation and that Andre depends upon Jacob, “Jacob’s limbs were intertwined with his for warmth,” and that maybe Jacob is a bit older and bear’s responsibility for his brother.
The Structure of ’Refugee Blues’ is simple, a rhyming couplet and a single line in each stanza. The simplicity of the poems structure helps create an easy method to portray the political image. At the end of every stanza, there is repetition of a key phrase that relates back to the rhyming couplet previously for example, ‘A thousand windows and a thousand doors,’ ‘Not one of them was ours, my dear, not one of them was ours.’ This really emphasises the feeling of devastation and travesty consequently keeping it linger in your mind to really feel the betrayal they felt. On the other hand, ‘The Last Night’s’ structure starts slowly, and explains the setting and position the Jews are in. As it begins to get ever closer to the end, it becomes more tense and frantic up to the departure of the Jews to the concentration camp; it leaves us with a lingering sympathy for the journey ahead. Also, ‘The Last Night’ changes the syntax in certain sentences to create effect, for example ‘She was looking to remember, for ever’ this is arranged in such a way that it remains in your mind, helping promote a sense of desperation because the woman will never see her child again.
W.H Auden manages to manipulate the current social position of the Jewish Refugees, as well as the feeling of captivity and despair to create powerful imagery. Auden also uses personification to draw attention to just how powerful Hitler’s voice is, for example, “Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky; It was Hitler over Europe, saying, they must die." Hitler’s command for all the Jews to be eradicated is personified as the rumbling of thunder, which can be heard just before lightning strikes and civilisation, descends slowly into the chaos of a political storm. Also, others like “Went down to the harbor and stood upon the quay, saw the fish swimming as if they were free.” This gives us an image of the fish living free and unconcerned, consequently releasing a feeling of tranquility. In comparison, the refugees, who are inept to escape from a pit of mistakes the Nazis put them in, live a life of hopelessness and homelessness. Other lines like “Walked through a wood, saw the birds in the trees, they had no politicians and sang at their ease,” shows still the...

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