Allegory: Used in the Poem of W. H. Auden

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      A Allegory may be defined as a story or a group of stories which is the Common property of a society, and which embodies some general or universal human experience. All peoples in all ages and countries had their own mythologies or collection of myths and despite differences in detail they show certain basic properties and themes which remain constant, for the basic human nature and the basic human dilemmas do not change. The characters and situations are carefully selected and enlarged so that they acquire symbolic force and suggestiveness. They become symbols of basic human nature, and human situation, and in this way human behaviour is organised and patterned, and the incoherent and formless mass of experience is ordered and made coherent. Thus, mythology is a collection of tales, socially and individually symbolic.

A Allegory may be defined as a story or a group of stories which is the Common property of a society, and which embodies some general or universal human experience. All peoples in all ages and countries had their own mythologies or collection of myths and despite differences in detail they show certain basic properties and themes which remain constant, for the basic human nature and the basic human dilemmas do not change. The characters and situations are carefully selected and enlarged so that they acquire symbolic force and suggestiveness. They become symbols of basic human nature, and human situation, and in this way human behaviour is organised and patterned, and the incoherent and formless mass of experience is ordered and made coherent. Thus, mythology is a collection of tales, socially and individually symbolic.
W. H. Auden

      According to Auden , "Myths or Allegories are collective creations. They cease to appear when a society has become sufficiently differentiated for its individual members to have individual conceptions of their tasks."

Use of Psychological Allegory:

      Most of Auden's psychological messages comes from allegory - not from direct statements. For Auden nearly everything in the early poetry exists on one or another side of that psychological border. On the sick side are all those "stork-legged heaven reachers" (religious idealists) and "Compulsory touches" (the sexually perverse), who support the old and fear the health of evolutionary change. These are defenders of the status quo. In the middle and upper classes, naturally, the superego burns brightest, and we see them sickened by it, throughout the poems distinguished by their class trappings at the "first garden party of the year" or "Dangerous easy in furs....at reserved tables". The early work presents a vast portrait of this group, with their death wish symptoms the financier with his typist; the dons "who are born nurses, who live in shorts" "bird watchers" and those who "prefer as a rule the big cities, living voluntarily in a top room". "These images tell us we are looking at the wrong side of the border, where public schools and garden parties are enemy institutions. The allegorical significance apparently draws on a meaning established outside the poem, in the private myth. Landscape in Auden's poetry have allegorical meaning. Woods stand for health, the release of the Id from the grasp of the Superego, and they obviously flourish on the good side of the border, where the thoroughly corrupt counsel their young never to go. But even if they wish, to the unhealthy cannot get across that border, even in dreams.

      Characters with Odd qualities such as having any strange Straits, a fondness four overalls, boats, bootlaces any kind of cough, an interest in games and so on are the sick, living on the wrong side of the border, and the physical landscape mirrors their sickness. Moreover the Collectors such as stamp collectors, flower collectors are also shown as sick people.

      The meaning of Auden's early poetry, cannot be clearly grasped without a knowledge of the private Mortmere myth of the 'Auden Gang.' Tunnels , mines, boring, coast-guard, towers and men and farms, frequently recur and drive their significance from the early myth. Auden has a farm connected by radio to the sick culture and several images suggesting that the "farm" is a dwelling place ot the strong and healthy.

Necessity of using Myth:

      Owing to the complexity of modern life, the modern writer is under necessity of organising heterogenous material round some pattern or system of ideas. If the traditional patterns myths, literary sources etc are not sufficient for his purposes, he may search for new patterns and make his own myths. Thus yeats' search for new patterns leads him to evolve a myth of his own embodied in his prose work vision I and VI and Eliot uses the mythical technique for this very reason. Auden used old myths but also searched, for new myths to organize his varied and complex material and this makes him one of the greatest makers of myths in the English language.

      Auden and his friends tried to do so even as early as their oxford period. The "Auden gang" - Spender, Day-Lewis, Isherwood , and Upward together made up their private Mortmere myth in which the heroic world of Beowulf, the Anglo-Saxon epic hero, Mortmere fused with the school-boy world.

Myth in Auden's work: The Gang Myth:

      In Auden's work a band of right-thinking disciples generally accompanies the young quester towards the healthy land. In his work whole bands of pilgrims languish and sink in exile, surprised and bewildered by the absence of miraculous cures they expected to find beyond the frontier. In the world of the Gang myth, a border or frontier separates the healthy from the sick. Conflict between these enemies gives the myth nearly all its actions and subject matter for characters to talk about. The main figures most often live on the wrong side or the frontier, where they struggle externally with the enemy, or internally with the attractions of both sides, or suffer the baffling multiplicity of torments allotted to the sick. Some hope to make across the border to health. These travellers are always members of the younger generation. School-boy exploits of Auden and his friends. Fragments of this myth colour Auden's early poetry, and knowledge of this myth is helpful in clearing many of the obscurities of the that poetry.

      Once across the border the exiled gang prefers to settle in mountains. From this height they plan attacks on the unregenerate who generally live in valleys. Auden's mountain bands generally fall apart before long, as they notice with surprised horror the reappearance of old disease. There are height other than mountains too. Airmen figure importantly in Auden, and most flying creatures - especially geese, hawks, kestrels and gulls - have some special significance. And there is a good deal of additional allegorical furniture; woods, gamekeepers, gaiters, farms, flowers, tunnels, mines, borings, glaciers, islands etc. - all have some sort of special associations.

      Auden uses the myth in several ways - or rather the myth floats in and out of the poetry in several ways. Sometimes entire poems are set inside the world of the myth itself. Auden's Paid on Both Sides is of course the obvious example of a work set within the myth world. Other works, though shorter, have more psychological content "Control of the passes was, he saw the very... "is one of these: "who will endure..." another, and there are others. In these we are inside the myth world, looking around. In the 1933 edition of Poems at least seven poems are the utterances of sickmen, while at least twelve others are spoken by a healthy or neutral commentator.

      In a complex and elaborate myth poem the sick speaker reports at length about rumours form the other side: "The speak of things done on the frontier we were never told". Many travellers depart for this border. Dick sails for it in Pain on Both Sides. Whole generations in Hearing of harvests rotting in the valleys. Cross their various mountain frontiers seeking health, while in "Again in Conversations a frightened neurotic cannot work up courage to step across, "for fear / Is over there".

      Different modes of travel play their part in the myth. Auden's hero often go by rail, as do those in Day Lewis, The Magnetic Mountain. Sometimes travellers sail to the border by ships. Ships engines, railheads, junctions, harbours, coast guardsmen - all show up in the literature carrying some kind of allegorical impart because of their connection with borders and the journey to them. During the 1930's says one critic, Auden hardly wrote a single poem without having the border or the frontier in his mind, the line which separates the healthy good from the unhealthy bad. The rail road is the favoured mode of travel for his questers and rails grow associated with health and vitality. Pastoral attractions and attraction of Romantic endearments are other dangers to be faced by Auden's Questers. Once across the border, migrants generally live in mountains, as they do in a number of places in Poems and nearly everywhere in The Orators. But Auden's mountain-dweller seldom find the promise they expected.

Conclusion:

      Auden's use of myth and allegory with an intriguing device had carried his poem to conceive a moralized civilization. To insist that the readers encounter the general view projected in a poem, Auden marshals masterful control over rhetoric and point of view. In Consider his use of the distant perspective of the hawk or helmeted airman is to project a panoramic view of a whole civilization. The reader is asked to rise above his local habitation to encompass a broad sweep of "territory". The Shield of Achilles employs contrasts in time by juxtaposing the heroic world of Hephaestus and Thetis with the barbaric world of the concentration camp. The unknown citizen, tough rather heavy handed, employs irony to distance the reader from its subject.

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