13 April, 2008

Gare Du Midi

Tough to choose one, I've really rather enjoyed my research into Auden as well, although his work seems odd, sometimes seemingly direct and straightforward, sometimes hard to fathom.

A nondescript express in from the South,
Crowds round the ticket barrier, A face
To welcome which the mayor has not contrived
Bugles or braid: Something about the face
Distracts the stray look with alarm and pity.
Snow is falling. Clutching a little case,
He walks out briskly to infect a city
Whose terrible future may have just arrived.

WH Auden, 1938

What immediately appeals to me about this one (apart from the short length that characterises all my choices!) is the meaning one could choose to read into it. A 21st century reader could be forgiven for imagining a terrorist with a vial of lethal pathogen. At the time it was written, that "little case" could be all the more hostile for containing instead an ideology, whether one that's downright evil, or simply an alien sense of bureaucracy.

I'd like to know more about Auden's concerns around that time but that's really where I ran out of research time for the week. Later, later.

Auden's whole body of work is excellent though, really. I've thoroughly enjoyed picking my way through a variety of sentiments and structures. "Gare Du Midi" is a favourite alongside "Here War is Simple like a Monument," "In Memory of W.B. Yeats," and "In Praise in Limestone." I don't think I can do such a man of words justice with my own, but I would heartily recommend the collection I have, at the least. It's collected together by John Fuller.

By this time next week I hope I'll have had time to read some of Dylan Thomas' poetry.


Senia said...

I like your analysis of it. I linked to it in my own commentary on the poem. I also noticed that you are protected.

Bishop Martin said...

The case might also contain comments on poems! The 'infection' is spread in the arena of those of us who like to think we understand Auden's poetry.