Thursday, September 19, 2019

Idealism in Auden’s O who can ever gaze his fill, Out on the lawn I li

Idealism in Auden’s O who can ever gaze his fill, Out on the lawn I lie in bed (A Summer Night 1933), and The Shield of Achilles W.H. Auden’s poems are celebrated for their intelligence, detachedness, and musicality. Often, idealism is associated with romanticism and the excessively personal, because it is an attempt at envisioning the world as it ought to be and not as it is. However, Auden successfully blends idealism into his objective poems, and this idealism manifests itself in his â€Å"O who can ever gaze his fill,† â€Å"Out on the lawn I lie in bed† (â€Å"A Summer Night 1933†), and â€Å"The Shield of Achilles.† In â€Å"O who can ever gaze his fill,† mortals from various walks of life comment on their ideals while Death watches over them. Composed of four stanzas, Death’s refrain succeeds the mortals’ thoughts and gets the last say in each instance. In the first stanza, the farmer and the fisherman look upon the water and the land fondly, believing that the traditional life of hard work coexists with their closeness to nature. This ideal life is how their forefathers have lived, and it is how â€Å"the pilgrims from [their] loins† should live in the years to come (6). However, Death remarks as it oversees the â€Å"empty catch† and â€Å"harvest loss† (9) that, â€Å"the earth is an oyster with nothing inside it† (12). Therefore, it advises, forget this ideal and â€Å"throw down the mattock and dance while you can† (15). This advice can be seen as giving up on the traditional way of life, so that the fisherman and the f armer no longer have to be bound to their toils. Death also says, â€Å"Not to be born is the best for man† (13), and this phrase is repeated in the subsequent stanzas. In the ideal world, perhaps mankind is not born i... ...ion, love, art, and nature. This idealism, far from being romantic, is imbued with rationality. Often, it is also countered by a strong cynicism. Using haunting imageries and melodic poetic devices, Auden successfully demonstrates a balanced sense of idealism in his â€Å"O who can ever gaze his fill,† â€Å"Out on the lawn I lie in bed† (â€Å"A Summer Night 1933†), and â€Å"The Shield of Achilles.† * some versions of the poem, like the one in Selected Poems, ed. Edward Mendelson (Vintage) appear to have 15 stanzas. Works Cited Auden, W.H. â€Å"A Summer Night 1933.† In The Colleced Poetry of Auden, pp. 96-98. New York: Random House, 1945. Auden, W.H. â€Å"O who can ever gaze his fill.† In The Colleced Poetry of Auden, pp. 224-226. New York: Random House, 1945. Auden, W.H. â€Å"The Shield of Achilles.† In The Shield of Achilles, pp. 35-37. New York: Random House, 1955.

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