What could a layman think about such a poem? When one tries to understand a poem, it is in fact a whole work that must be understood; a whole thought that has to be reached. Whether we are studying a poem by W. H. Auden, E. Bishop, W. B. Yeats, or A. Sexton, it is impossible to understand it without taking an interest in their comprehensive works. For that reason, as with many poets, after having read The Wanderer, the reader is under the impression that the poem is nothing but a cryptic text. That feeling prevents the understanding of the poem, but must be overrun in order to get the full meaning of it. That observation raises several inquiries that we will try to determinate. That is why commenting on how a poem is a singular piece of a larger work and what is meant through it cannot be overlooked or fathomed aside. Indeed, we cannot aspire to comment effectively on The Wanderer without having a look at the creative thought of W. H. Auden, were it brief.
The Wanderer; hardly is this word out that the reader is already taken away. We cannot deny the importance of seeking faraway confines in W. H. Auden's poetry; we find it in this poem, but also throughout his whole poetic work. The idea of the existence of a way out is shown through this poem. However, where does Auden really flee? This quest for another world also reflects a deep elegiac tone that pervades his style.
[...] Finally, we must admit that a kind of abstruse mysticism remains, and that the key to the poem is not always accessible by explanations and commentaries. The reader must have a poetic sensitivity to get the poem. And by the way, is not it the meaning of a poem: sensitivity? make out of the quarrels with others, which are rhetoric, but of the quarrel with ourselves, it is poetry” said W. B. Yeats. Was Auden looking for a kind of loneliness when he wrote this poem? [...]
[...] Anxiety is the word that may define W. H. Auden's state of mind in this poem; he is in fact looking for himself. That is what all men do when they are isolated. The second part, that looks like a kind of supplication, is the most significant part of the poem, and at the same time, the most difficult to comment on. That is why we will try not to go as deep as wished into the interpretations. Time and God are evident in Auden's Poems. [...]
[...] Early Auden; 39-45 Though the frontier is purely mental, Auden had to concretely give a physical representation of it; it couldn't only be a frontier in the mind as Peter McDonald noticed it in his article H. Auden: Poems” in A Companion to Twentieth-century Poetry, it had to be symbolically physically depicted. As Auden's doom (the “stranger to stranger”) forces him to get rid of his past, this poem, and to a certain extent his Poems, is a kind of catharsis. [...]
[...] However, how can we define this future generated by an invincible fate? How can we say that all of this is nothing but a dream? All that we can say is that this poem describes a possibility of what could happen. The use of the subjunctive, in the second verse, has a hypothetical value of what can happen. Auden's literary process is very effective: while the eventuality of an undetermined action is introduced in line 2 (for this grammar construction does not allow the reader to anticipate what is coming. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee