The modern day world is plagued with injustice. Our ostensibly just society is one where children starve, genocides rage through nations, wars wipe out entire generations and prejudice and hatred turn neighbors against each other. There is an undeniable amount of suffering staining mankind. Wystan Hugh Auden’s poetry conveys the painful experience that humanity endures. Many of his poems explore the ramifications of war, corrupt government and unrequited love, detailing the havoc they wreak on their most vulnerable victims.
Auden describes a war-ridden world as one where “girls are raped, that two boys knife a third, were axioms to him, who’d never heard of a world where promises were kept, or one could weep because another wept” (Auden, W. H. “The Shield Of Achilles”). Having experienced World War I, World War II and the Spanish Revolution, Auden is no stranger to war (Yezzi). Pulling inspiration from his experiences during World War II, Auden writes the poem “Refugee Blues.” In this poem Auden depicts the public’s hatred toward Jews, describing a “poodle in a jacket” and “a door opened and a cat let in” (lines 22-23) followed by the realization that these animals were treated with this kindness because, unlike the refugees, “they weren’t German Jews” (line 24). Auden uses this example of animals being treated better than Jews to convey the idea that even seemingly compassionate people are easily influenced against their fellow man. Auden specifically uses a poodle as the