Imagery and Symbolism in W. H. Auden's Poetry

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Interpretation of the word "Symbol":

      The use of symbolic words and images in Auden's poetry, further extend the meaning of words in all directions very exhaustively. According to Auden, symbol is an object or event, more important than reason can immediately explain. The diction becomes emotive and thought provoking. The one symbol will enable to further elaboration of the meaning of the words and the reader is easily convinced by the ideas behind them. This device is used so that there is no ambiguity of meaning. The ideas of the poets mind are quite transparent with the help of symbols. Hence poetry is considered to be the best communication of thoughts and ideas. The readers are also deeply overwhelmed by the ideas of the poet. The poem appears to be very enchanting and fascinating because of the symbols. The poet's ideas do not become monotonous, formless, and baseless.

Auden uses symbols to enhance the meaning of an idea. The modern urban life is decaying. Problems are very baffling in the twentieth century and 21st century. Hence Auden has taken resort to symbolic language and diction to communicate the complexes of the mind. Modern age is called decadent age. The spiritual and psychological malaise are caused by its complexity. Modern poets are helpless when they convey the ideas of their mind. The poet searches the suggestive details. Hence the common and familiar object is elevated to the symbolic.
W. H. Auden

      Auden uses symbols to enhance the meaning of an idea. The modern urban life is decaying. Problems are very baffling in the twentieth century and 21st century. Hence Auden has taken resort to symbolic language and diction to communicate the complexes of the mind. Modern age is called decadent age. The spiritual and psychological malaise are caused by its complexity. Modern poets are helpless when they convey the ideas of their mind. The poet searches the suggestive details. Hence the common and familiar object is elevated to the symbolic.

The Use of Archaic Imagery and its Symbolic Significance:

      Auden describes the desolate landscapes, which are full of decayed machinery, and there are up-turned railway tracks, rusted machines and dirty smoking chimneys. All these are symbolic. They reveal illness and disease in the human psyche as well as the decay and corruption of the industrial civilization. Society is highly sophisticated but there is no solace to the lucrative heart of the reader. The poet adopts those images to heal the disease of the mind.

The following verses of Auden narrate the condition of the present Society:

Below him sees dismantled washing-floors
Snatches of tramline running to the wood,
An industry already comatose, yet sparsely living. A ramshackle engine
At cashwell raises water; for ten years
It lay in flooded workings until this...

      In this poem there is a contrast between this scene and the modern age of ice.

      To quote Cleanth Books: "Auden's surest triumphs is a recovery of the archaic imagery - fells, scraps overhung by kestrels, the back with their pot-holes left by the receding glaciers of the age of ice. His dominant contrast is the contrast between this scene and the modern age of ice: foundries with their fires cold, flooded coal mines, silted harbors - the debris of the new ice age."

Main Functions of Symbols: Auden's View

      The use of symbolic words and images extends the meaning of words in all directions. Symbols arouse powerful feelings and enable the writer to convey complex spiritual and mystical truths. According to Auden symbol is an, "object or event felt to be more important than reason can immediately explain." Auden's poems are peculiarly independent. In his poems symbols have three principal functions:

(i) They have the technical function of providing a concrete dramatic situation and an unifying principle of organization for the imagery.

(ii) Secondly, they have the satirical function of expanding satire into the cosmic dimension, thereby, implying a satirical norm.

(iii) Thirdly, they have the didactic function of embodying concretely, concepts of varying degrees of abstraction.

      Symbolism is different from allegory. Auden comments that "Allegory is a form of rhetoric, a device for making the abstract concretize. ln Auden's poetry there are symbols of the journey, the war, the clock, the quest, Paysage moralize, psychopathic disease, love (Eros, Agape, Logos), the city and the age of anxiety, geography, and landscape, places, catalog, private symbols, the hawk, the Airman and the enemy and the healers.

Symbol of War:

      War is the dominating symbol in Auden's poetry. It is the most obvious and most constant symbolic pattern. War is considered as man's natural and normal instinct while peace is treated to be an accidental breathing space. Auden has used these images merging them with other diverse images relating to time and places, which represent the real wars of our age. According to Auden, all wars are ultimately identical. These wars are due to insecurity and danger. They remind us the true human predicament. "Border" is the Corollary symbol which stands for the frontier between two hostile states or choices.

      Auden was the follower of Marx. Marxism is noted through and through in his poetry. There is conflict in war which is of various type. One is the class war and the other stands for international war which symbolizes decaying capitalism. According to Auden, it is due to our spiritual failures, we create enemies. War is analyzed by him in a psychological term, proceeding from our metaphysical and religious deficiencies. He has written in the poem September 1, 1939.

The clever hopes expire of a low dishonest decade.

      In this poem, he has narrated the historical psychological and political meaning of what is happening. According to Auden love is lacking, hence there is war.

      He has written another poem, In Spain (1938). The Spanish Civil War is used as a symbol of the war within each individual. To quote a critic Daviso: "Auden's technique here is a type of symbolism, in which objects correspond to human attitudes or emotions, and verbally they are fused together. The process is not unlike the surrealist method. For example, expressing unconscious ideas by means of images of "limp watches hanging on a bough." Auden however like the surrealists, adds a Freudian component to his symbolism. Somehow, "the fears which made us respond to the medicine, have been transformed into battalions. Our private neuroses in other words, have become sublimated into aggressive intervention in the civil war. On the other hand, the brutal firing squad and the bomb' represent the concrete manifestation of human 'greed' and in our society. This greed is symbolized in our faces, the institute - face, store, the ruin."

      According to Davison "Auden sees the civil war as a war within each individual bourgeois, and his Fascist tendencies are incarnated in Fascist activities and his good tendencies are embodied in good deeds"

Madrid is the heart, our moments of tenderness blossom. As the ambulance and the sandbag our hours of friendship into a people's army.

      Auden's method is a method of psychological symbolism. In his poetry inner conflict of good and evil in the soul is identified with the conflict of anti-Fascists and Fascist on the Spanish battlefield. Auden is fusing Marx and Freud nearly equating bourgeois neurotic fear with aggression, and bourgeois greed with brutality.

The Symbol of Clock:

      Auden has used the symbol of the clock. In his poem The Witnesses the speaker says:

You are the two and we are the clock
We are the guardians of the gate in the rock.

      The poet is associating the clock with authority, denial and fear. The Dog's Skin speaks to the clock in order to explain everything. The dog represents the animal part of man. It may be Id as against the clock as super-ego.

The Symbol of Quest:

      In early poetry, there is the symbolic pattern of the quest. The individual represents terrifying responsibility. He is required, to give up his comfortable life for undergoing dangerous mission. The poet says the symbol of "Dooms dark". Hence in the early poems, there is no definite conceptual meaning. The individual has no special qualification. He is not a Hero. There is no distinction between the Average and the Exceptional. The sonnet sequence, "The Quest" is Auden's exploration of the rich complex of meaning in these pattern. The Door is the sonnet which represents the threshold between the conscious and the unconscious mind. The theme is pertaining to our troubles i.e, critical and personal. The religious or semi-religious contrast between self-love and unselfish love which is the basis of the poem The city. The basic ideas of the other three sonnets describe the temptations which seduce the exceptional individuals from the quest. Hence the poem ends in egoism and isolation. The other sonnets also represent the Freudian interpretation compensation or for maladjustment or physical defects.

      The sonnet The Tower reveals the exceptional achievement. The symbol reflects an architecture for the old. The danger is that it may become an ivory tower of isolation. The other sonnet The Presumptuous narrates about average well-adjusted people. Vocation, a sonnet, presents a situation, reminiscent of Kafka. The idea in this poem, the bureaucratic official, rejects the application of the individual so that he should suffer and sustain loss. His sonnet named The useful is concerned with the people who succumb to the temptation. He becomes the instrument to aid others on the quest. The other significant sonnet The Way is an interesting contrast to Auden's later religious views. The most important sonnet The Lucky deals with the question, of destiny, free will and grace. In the sonnet, The Hero, symbol reveals the unchanged person by his success. He is not supposed to get humiliation in his life. The adventures narrate the desert saints, the mystics, who are spiritually barren and motiveless. The Water reflexes human cravings for belief, love of illusion. Finally, the sonnet The Garden describes the conditions of innocence, who wants to escape from guilt. Moreover, Auden wrote a number of essays in prose analyzing the various types of quests and the heroes reflect the critical, moral and religious pre-occupation of the culture, they represent. In New Year Letter he says that the machine has compelled all to the admission that,

Aloneness is man's real condition,
That each must tranel forth alone
In search of the Essential Store, ...
Each salesman now is the polite
Adventure, the landless knight
Gawaine - Quixote, ...

      To sum up, in Auden's poetry the symbol of Quest is also a very significant one. In the poem The Quest Auden examines and narrates through symbols the finding of one's way. The finding of way is extraordinarily difficult and this has been revealed through the poem The Quest.

      To quote Hoggart: "Thus sonnet eight, dramatically and idiomatically, treats one aspect of the main theme, - that of the special. temptations in the path of the sensitive, intelligent man - how his intelligence and sense of concern set him industriously examining his experience, only to conclude that love and pity are false values; how he reacts reluctantly into pure egotism and acquires great power and of the panic and emptiness inside."

The Symbol of Paysage Moralise In Paysage Moralise:

      Islands stand for escape, selfish isolation cities stand for society, civilization and water for belief and potentiality valleys symbolize passiveness, innocence, mountains stand for effort and decision. In Time of War is a highly successful use of the last of these, Mountains here represent the human situation. In the New Year Letter there is a long passage describing human nature in terms of English landscape, For Auden, the distinction between inner and outer worlds is tenuous. and interpretation is constant. In his poems natural symbolism is developed, in which landscape represents emotional states or situations. Auden also symbolizes an individual mind, his character and beliefs and sometimes his body, through landscape. In the New Year Letter there are two atlases, one is public:

      "The other is the inner space of private ownership, the place that each of us is forced to own, Like his own life from which its grown. The landscape of his will and need where he is sovereign indeed, the state created by his acts...."

      The symbol of Paysage Moralise appears with particular clarity. It is also called psychic geography. The technique is derived from Rilke, who, since the seventeenth century first solved the problem of expressing abstract ideas in concrete terms.

Psychosomatic Disease:

      According to Auden physical disease symbolizes mental or spiritual disorder. "When people are ill, they are wicked." To Auden a sore throat means that the sufferer has been lying, cancer means refusal to make use of creative powers, rheumatism means obstinacy, refusal to bend the knees, deafness and short sight are attempts to shut out the exterior world. Auden says poetry is essentially therapeutic and the poet is the spiritual diagnostician. When Auden was in Berlin, he became an energetic convert to the psychological doctrine of John Layard. John Layard was a disciple of the American healer, Homer Lane. Auden considered disease as teleological, a mode of the expression of Id, which is caused by the sense of guilt.

The Symbol of Love (Eros, Agape, Logos):

      The symbol of love has a great significance in Auden's poetry. In September 1, 1939 the poet reflects on the historical, psychological and political meaning of what is happening According to Auden the basic fault is one of love. In Auden's early poetry, the main themes are perversion of Eros. In his early poems it is portrayed that nobody is well in England. They are self-regarder and dominated by Thanatos. As Walked out one evening presents in the clock's reply to the lover, the theme that time conquers human love and concludes:

You shall love your erooked neighbour with your Crooked heart.

      Eros being selfish tends towards evil. Eros has both ego and objective love, the urge of self-preservation and the preservation of the species, as well as sexual love. Trouble is that we are dominated by Ego, self-love. There are other passages in which Eros is presented favorably. In Crisis; the theme is that faith alone can set our love in order. Psychology merely explains the states of love or one's reaction to it but can not solve any problem regarding love. In most of the poems by Auden learning love and unlearning hatred is proposed as a remedy. So there is frequently a contrast between selfish and unselfish love, the distinction between Eros and Agape. In the later poetry, Auden moves to Christianity. So in his later stage, Auden depicted that love is not only an enjoyment or a pleasure, it is a solace which transcends our mind from the physical or material world to spiritual uplift.

The Symbol of City:

      The city in Auden's poem is a dominant symbol. He wants to signify civilization and man's social achievement. So, he represents the civilization, society and culture by the symbol of the city which are moralized landscapes. He contrasts Eros and Agape. Then he shows the meditation on the Logos leading to a contrast of the earthly and heavenly cities, secular and Christian Societies. He has endeavored to universalize the city. The central symbol is usually that of ancient Rome. According to Auden, the condition of our own civilization bears resemblance to the collapsing Rome. For example, the poem namely, The Fall of Rome depicts our present bankrupt secularism, in contrast of that of decadent room. In the other poem Memorial for the City he further elaborates the symbol. The first section of the poem deals with the naturalistic and Christian attitudes towards history and time. Auden here presents the world of animals which is a naturalistic world of the Greeks. He feels here that time is an enemy and human beings are insignificant. Nature is presented seriously because she endures. Human beings understand that the prime of life is not time but their actions of significance. But we should not be disappointed nor should we pity ourselves.

      In the second section of this poem, Auden describes man's attempts to build a city. In the medieval age, the Spain City was built but it became corrupt. Martin Luther critically examined this city and found the sordid realities of the life. Perversities were prevailing in every sphere of life in The City. Hence everything was insecure and divided Auden further elaborates that reason and science brought civility and prosperity. Similarly, the French revolution constructed the rational city based on natural goodness. Although there was vast devastation same goal of the Glittering consciousness has been pursued ever since. The third section deals with the present condition of the society. lt symbolizes that civilization has broken down completely. There are barbed void and destruction of war. The result is that this secular ideal ignores religious faith, falsifies human nature. But we should not be disappointed. We must be optimistic about it that the void and the ruins are not the end. As the poet says: "There is Adam, waiting for the city."

      The last or final section is "Let our weakness speak". Here the poet personifies the human foibles i.e. timidity, gregariousness, stupidity, common-sense and realism. The poet says the basis of humility is the one ground of hope."

The Age of Anxiety:

      The Age of Anxiety presents the symbolic pattern of the society The poem is practically virtually a sympathetic satire on the attempts of the human beings to escape from the sordid world by their own efforts. The anxiety of the Age is intensified in our civilization with its failure of tradition and belief. The individual is isolated, without aid or support in his terrifying responsibilities for his own ultimate destiny. The conditions are further aggravated in time of war when everybody is reduced to the anxious status of a shoddy character, who is displaced and shelterless. A critic says that even the most prudent person becomes a worshipper of chance. To quote a distinguished critic:

      "The time is All Hollows Eve, and the characters are metaphorically, souls in purgatory, each dreaming in his own way of escape, but aware of no recourse beyond the human level. The genre of the poem is the quest in which every man seeks spiritual knowledge. The anxiety can be overcome only by faith."

      In this poem, there are four characters who are distinctly distinguished. Each character bears a different relation to the main symbolic pattern of the poem. Each moves through his private world of symbols. Malin is an important character who is a Canadian airman. The other is the medical intelligence officer who has deep perception. He is distinctively Christian, yet he says that he has no faith. Reset, a lady, is a jewish department store buyer who has achieved material success but her race makes her special case of homelessness and spiritual turpitude and insecurity. He passes through a dream world. He observes the innocent landscape of the defective story. He notices some aspects which conveys her images of isolation and persecution. She is the protagonist in this poem. Quant, is an aging Irish widower. He is outwardly a failure but his intelligence is superior to his position as a clerk. Life appears to be very dull and hoary. His typical imagery is that of classical mythology. Finally, Emble is the handsome young American soldier who is an insecure youth seeking a vocation and success. His images are of the quest, the sea, and the mountains. They reveal his potentiality, belief and choice.

Private Symbols in Auden's Poems:

      Auden has specifically mentioned some private symbols in his various poems. For example, The Frontier symbolizes the dividing line between social and individual health, social and individual illness, corruption and decay. Mountains symbolise an escape world and the valleys, real healthy life and its activity. The readers are not familiar with the private symbols and images but fortunately, such symbols are repeated again and again. The repetition itself serves to clarify their meaning. Hence there is no ambiguity.

Symbolic Geography and Landscape:

      Auden was influenced by Rilke in the use of Geography and landscape to symbolize spiritual and mental states.

Lost in my wake the archipelago
Islands of self through which I sailed all day...
To settle in this village of the heart..

      The lines from the last sonnet In Time of War reminds us technical device in Auden.

We every streams and houses that are sure.
But we are articled to error.
We were never nude and calm like a great door,
And never will be perfect like the fountains;
We live in freedom by necessity.
A mountain people dwelling among mountains

      The images used in these sentences symbolize spiritual and mental states. The passage is quite rich in symbolic value. In Praise of Limestone is one of his most successful poems in which landscape is used symbolically. The device of using landscape and geography has been overworked in the following sentence:

Our money sang like streams on the aloof peakso
of our thinking..
He hugged his sorrow like a plot of land.

      The contrasts between two things, the forces of destruction all are symbolically rendered in the above passages

The following passage is also of symbolic character:
"Pass on, admire the view of the massif
Through plate-glass windows of the Sport Hotel,
Join there the insufficient units
Dangerous, easy, in furs, in uniform
And constellated at reserved tables
Supplied with feelings by an efficient band
Relayed elsewhere to farmers and their dogs.
Sitting in Kitchens in the stormy fem.

      In this symbolic passage the new Ice-age, has been compared with the old-age.

      The Alpine scene in the passage represents the remnants of Europe's last glacial period. The ruling Class represented in this poem use the remnants of Europe as their playground. As representatives of the new ice-age it is ironically appropriate that they should choose such a playground. They are part of the age, they are emotionally frozen - they have to be "supplied with feeling...

      The term stormy is applied to the fens. But the suggestion carries over to the farmers too. They represent the storm which will overwhelm the heavy civilization. And the term fens itself takes place in the irony.

Figures: Symbolic:

      Auden's another important symbol is the symbol of figure. Human figures are successfully used as symbols of the various facts of contemporary life. In the opening chorus to The Dog Beneath the Skin symbolic people appear as:

And nervous people who will never marry
Live upon dividends in the old-world cottages
With an animal for friend and a volume of memoirs

      In The age of Anxiety are get the following image in the euphoria scene

Lesser lives retire on their savings
Their small deposits of starches and nuts

      The figures are all symbolic. There are innumerable uses of images in Auden's poem. The Insufficient units / Dangerous, easy, in furs, or The old gang to be forgotten in the spring of Poems 1930 or those Standing on these Impoverished Constricting acre / The ladies and gentlemen apart, too much alone, and the holiday making city dwellers Who play leap-frog, enter cafes, wear the figerish blazer and the dove-like shoe of Look Stranger are all symbolic.

      Thus, Auden has quite successively and impressively has used the symbolic images in his poems.

Symbol of places:

      Auden is the past master in the art of writing. The symbol of places are very important. Dover is one of his early poems. To quote a critic, "Dover is a place of special significance, it is both an end and a beginning. It is the last point in the territory of "the old gang to be forgotten in the spring, and echoes their seediness and hollow pretension; it is also the point from which the migrants set out for new countries."

      In this manner, Auden comments on the prevailing condition of Europe and England's relation to it. All the towns situated in the Frontier are symbolic. Auden narrates the psychology of the migrants. Further, he uses many allusions in order to communicate to us the social function of the soldiers. Moreover he exposes the economic condition of England by his symbols. "He talks so often, about the attraction of the childhood dream and about the loneliness, the frightened souls behind the facades, in the sea of personal unhappiness and misery each one prays in the dusk for himself."

      The Dover is a very significant poem. The poet gives us thought provoking symbols. He conveys us so much matter in so little space. He conveys us the significant fact from the orderly things. For example, he mentions symbols like the soldiers, pub-manners and the seaside-cum-port-cum-country town architecture. The following verses reveal the fact how much matter is presented in so little space:

Steep roads, a tunnel through the downs, are the approaches;
A ruined pharos overlooks a constructed bay;
The sea-front is almost elegant, all this show
Has, somewhere inland, a vague and dirty root:
Nothing is made in this town.

The Symbols: The Hawk and the Airman (Symbol of Brutish Personls)

      Auden has frequently used symbols either to convey dispassionate view of human life and his world. For example in the Orators, the Airman symbolizes release and liberation. Sometimes he uses the hawk which is a very brute creature. These wild creatures are used in the poem The Sea and the Mirror. There are so many abhorrent objects which convey the hard facts which he tries to overlook. But they are hovering in his mind. For example, they are - the sea, the whirlwind, the deluge shark, octopus, scorpion etc. These heinous objects convey Auden's mental agony.

The Enemy and the Healers:

      In Auden's Marxist and Freudian poetry there is a constant struggle between the Enemy and the Healers. "The Dragon, the devourer, the scissors-man, the formless terror in the dream, the stopping shadow that withdraws itself as you wake in the half dawn all these are images for the Enemy, the destroyer of life and love, whose agents are malaise, cowardice, inability to cope, inertia, the longing for death, frustration, the ingrown will, the reason without emotions, self-regard; the Enemy is all the fear and negation which helps to dry and dreaden.

      The characters of the opposite side is the healer, the Airman. The Airman has been presented as a truly strong man, the friend of life and of creation. He is the symbol of refusal to the afraid and also a man of ability who can rise to a large gesture. He stands for life values, his memory gives strength against the enemy. So, he is the healer. Specially all the poets, psychologists and who fight the adversary in one way or other are the healers.


      In 1930 Auden's point of view as we have discussed earlier, hovers between Marx and Freud. He has discussed the contemporary situation at one time as a Marxist Observer, and at another time as a clinical psychologist. The illness of the modern world is to be interpreted sometimes as economic disease and sometimes as the symptom of the diseased state of mind.

      So, in his poetry, we find that the symbolism wavers. In other words his symbolism is highly dynamic. Hence they are not boring and monotonous. Sometimes he addressed group of his personal friends, sometimes the symbol reveals his loneliness and agony of this world; sometimes they are meant for underminate audience, sometimes he wishes to convey his pent up feelings by some symbols. Hence his symbols are very appealing, forceful, suggestive and effective. If he is confusing sometimes, he endeavors to convey the obscure ideas which cannot be easily understood by the audience. All the poems are giving a search for some realities of life as the verse indicates:

Here, am I, Here are you:
But what does it mean
What are we going to do?

      Finally, we conclude that his poetry is predominantly symbolic. It is excessively exhaustive, study of the subject-matter which he experiences throughout his life.

Critical Assessment of Auden's Images and Symbols:

(i) The following are the main points of his symbolic skill. Auden made use of T.S. Eliot's device of symbolism. This device is very popular which is called the objective-co-relative. Both T.S. Eliot and Auden used the art of metaphysical poets. The metaphysical conceits enable to express the underlying motives of the poets.

(ii) Yeats' symbols are pungent, trenchant and forceful. They incur what may be called the sociological and psychological epigram. There are some unforgettable lines. For example -

The shallow oval faces of the city
the tigerish blazer and the dovelike shoe.

(iii) His symbols are apt, concerning with the subject matter. The reader is never in the air and follows the main point of the subject matter. In this way the impact of symbolic figures is enhanced by the use of concise, pithy phrases.

(iv) Hoggart has summed up the main characteristics of his symbols and images, The epigrammatic manner applied to individuals reached its peak in Another Time where are collected poems on Pascal, Voltaire, Arnold, Lear, Housman, Rimband and other. In these Individual sketches the figures are not dramatic in the sense that Eliot's Prufrock is. They are not called up in appearance, movement and speech. Auden is primarily concerned with examining the psychological make-up of his characters; he analyses them and comments but does not describe; he is conceptual, not dramatic analytics, not narrative." So he often writes of general types - the composers, The Novelist - rather than of particular people. Significant details of a well-known personality are selected, so that the figures acquire a symbolic significance which is further heightened by the use of tense, epigrammatic lines, which serve to impress the mind with the symbolic significance of the individual concerned."


      Images and symbols play a dominant roles in Auden's poetry. His symbols are very effective and forceful. His use of symbol has made his poems peculiarly independent and thought provoking.

(i) In Auden's poetry, war has a great significance. There is a strong Marxist element in war symbol. He analyses war in psychological terms, proceeding from our metaphysical and religious deficiencies.

(ii) The clock symbolizes superegoism. It associates with the authority, denial, fear. In the witnesses, the speakers say you are the town and we are the clock We are the guardians of the gate in the rock.

(iii) In Auden's early poetry. The symbolic pattern of the Quest appears. An individual singled out for a dangerous mission individual is of no special qualifications. He is not a Hero. He is a man of average quality. In recent years, Auden has written a number of prose analyses of the various types or quests and heroes, taken as indexes to the political, moral and religious presuppositions of the cultures, they represent.

(iv) In Paysage Moralise, Islands stand for escape, selfish isolation. The symbolic pattern used in this poem is to be called psychic geography. Mountains represent the human situation. The surface reference here is topical and political democracy versus totalitarianism.

(v) Auden believed that disease was invariably teleological, the expression of Id which is caused by a sense of guilt. Psychosomatic medicine has excellent poetry results. According to Auden, poetry is essentially therapeutic and the poet, the spiritual diagnostician.

(vi) In Auden's poetry Love has been interpreted as Eros, Agape and Logos. Auden has been entertaining various ideas and possibilities, however, the concepts symbolized and the relations between them are inconsistent and shifting. In his poem, there is always a contrast between selfish and unselfish love, i.e. the distinction between Eros and Agape.

(vii) The symbol of city stands for Auden's moralized landscape. The contrast of Eros and Agape and the meditations on the Logos lead naturally to a contrast of the earthly and heavenly cities, a secular and Christian society.

(viii) The symbol of collectors are quite significant in Auden's poetry. Gunn in The Ascent of F6 the botanist, the Rose-lovers, all these collectors / stand for some eccentricities or abnormalities. The collectors collect everything. In Auden's poetry, Airman is also a collector. His case is even more serious.

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