W.H. Auden was a 20th century modernist, transnational poet. He moved to the United States from England as a young man and became highly acclaimed, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 (Poetry Foundation). His poetry has strong political undertones, often dealing with issues of morality, philosophy, and war (W.H. Auden: Selected Poems).
While he was in school, Auden become part of the “Oxford Group”, which is known to have had Marxist sympathies; however, scholars have noted that Auden frequently revised his published work in response to a changing political ideology, making his particular political leanings difficult to define (Poetry Foundation). Despite Auden’s changing views and revisions to his work (which mark him as a dynamic and thoughtful person), he was continuously devoted to freeing humanity from oppression and questioning social structures.
In one of his most famous poems, “In Memory of W.B. Yeats,” (which I adapt into a comic in this project), Auden claims that “poetry makes nothing happen” (36). This line stands out, implying that Auden felt restricted in his ability to create political change through his art form. Prompted about the line, Auden stated that his work never allowed him to “save a single Jew” (Roberts 87). Auden become heavily involved with the Jewish community in the early 1940s (Roberts 87). Despite his lack of faith in the political power of poetry, Auden continued to weave political messages into his poems and he was able to help Jews through outside work by raising money and helping to settle refugees (Roberts 87).
Curious about the process of this project? Read more about the project here.