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Moral Affects through "Wind" and "Bone": Reading W.H. Auden's "Refugee Blues".

Dubbed as "a low dishonest decade" by W. H. Auden ("September l, 1939," Another Time 112), the 1930s was the period when Europe and Asia drifted into aggressive fascism, which was considered as one of the severest ethical disasters in human history. In Europe, Italian fascist leader Mussolini assumed power in 1922, and Hider followed and surpassed him in the following decade. In Asia, Japan started minor military incursions into China on 18 September 1931, and began an all-out invasion on 7 July 1937. Suffering, horror and death became the common human lot of the 1930s, posing huge threats to human civilization. In particular, to remove the Jews from Germany, and eventually from Europe, was a principle objective of Nazis based on their ideology of anti-Semitism. From 1935 till the outbreak of WWII, a series of discriminatory measures and policies against Jews had been adopted by Nazi Germany. Being deprived of various kinds of rights and almost all ways to make a living in Germany and its occupied areas, hundreds of thousands of Jews were forced to emigrate to seek asylum (Stevenson 199-200; Crowe 23). (1) Deplorably, anti-Semitism also existed outside the areas of Nazi influence (Stevenson 15); in many democratic countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, the German Jews were regarded as "undesirable immigrants," and "there is evidence of explicit anti-Semitism in the reluctance of many countries to admit more Jews" (Rubinstein et al. 216), (2) which obviously added to the woes of the Jewish refugees.

Auden's famous lyric "Refugee Blues" was composed around March 1939, the month when tens of thousands of Jewish emigrants, though having managed to escape from their European homeland, were suffering differently and considerably in the new lands. The poem's subject matter was exactly the plight of the Jewish refugees arriving at a new country; biographically, its setting--"this city" with "ten million souls" might be the city of New York. (3) Himself a perplexed self-exiled man in an alien landscape, naturally, Auden was rather sympathetic and empathie with the refugees. Considering Auden's religious family background, as well as his sexual orientation, as Beth Ellen Roberts pointed out, "the poem is more of a lesson to Christians about loving one's neighbor than an apologia for Judaism," despite the fact that both Jews and queers are "geographically mobile." "This was a condition that characterized the European Jewish refugees Auden met in New York and that Auden not only experienced himself, but lauded as an ideal" (89).


Granted, biographical information (as is employed by some critics of the poem) sheds much light on the poem's theme as well as on the poet's intention, yet it is far from sufficient for any substantial interpretation and criticism. On the other hand, mere statements of the poem's paraphrasable content or the reader's response(s) may not be strictly literary, and the latter would even be suspected of an "affective fallacy." To better elaborate the theme and affective power of "Refugee Blues" as verbal art, I will shift my interpretive focus of the poem to its language and style.

Among all literary genres, lyric poetry is considered as the most suitable form of recording and communicating affects (or emotions). (4) And in particular, moral affects conveyed in a lyrical poem, motivated by the poet's moral consciousness, should be the most sublime one among various kinds of lyrical affects. Readers of Auden's "Refugee Blues" were likely aware of the origin of the blues in black southern American culture in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century (Ryan 2015). "Refugee Blues" as well as his other poems of similar subject matter written in the same period (such as the sonnets from China), are sure to be influenced by his well-versed rhetoric intertwined with moral affects and characterized by his skillful interplay of sense and style. I would argue that the Auden "blues," as a prime example of his earlier "engage" verse, manifests what the Chinese ancient stylistician Hsieh Liu calls the "force of wind and bone [phrase omitted] ("Wen-hsin tiao-lung" 227)--a literary vigor out of the balance between affects and rhetoric, ideas and words.

The Chinese literary idea of "wind and bone," foregrounding both "form" and "content" of the affective dimension of a literary work, is in essence consistent with Wimsatt and Beardsley's view, as stated in their famous essay "The Affective Fallacy." (5) Liu further argued that the affects of a literary work are conveyed and evoked exacdy by its perceptible language: "When the affections (ch'ing) are stirred, language gives them [external] form (hsing) [phrase omitted] (221). The view is further elaborated as follows:

When affections and ch'i are joined together [phrase omitted]

When phrasing goes together with form [phrase omitted]

The writing is bright and firm [phrase omitted]

A fine piece of jade is presented [phrase omitted]

The force of wind is rich [phrase omitted]

The boniness is stern [phrase omitted] (223)

Reading the Auden blues loudly and closely, one could simultaneously experience a rich "force of wind" (i.e., the power produced by a combination of "phrasing" and "form") and a stern force of "boniness" (i.e., the "affections and ch'i" relating to the moral theme). Significantly, a combination of the two dominant forces would make the literary work, to borrow Wimsatt and Beardsley's phrase, "more permanently perceptible" (101), for they exist exactly as words on the page, the work's concrete properties, and also as the reader's consciousness (or schemata) to be refreshed. Given that compassion is at the core of the moral affects in "Refugee Blues," the term "compassion" deserves a clarification here. According to moral psychologists of neuroscience, among all the morally-oriented "other-conscious" emotions, compassion is considered as an essential component of individual moral consciousness. (6) Felt when one is "moved by another's suffering," compassion (or sympathy) requires recognizing the "bad outcomes to another person (or social group)" as well as "a sense of attachment" (Moll et al. 2).

With Liu's stylistic idea in mind, with English stylistic toolkits at hand, we could investigate the "wind" and "bone" of "Refugee Blues" from a thematic-cum-stylistic perspective, thus the worry of "affective fallacy" (as well as "intentional fallacy") would prove unnecessary. In other words, we could support a claim for the poem's theme and affective power with precise stylistic evidences from the text itself, focusing on both what the poem is and what it does. As for what it is, a consideration of the specific genre is indispensable. As Monroe K. Spears put it, though "carefully underplayed," the poem's blues style is truly essential to its meaning (108). First, "blues" serves as a practical carrier of Auden's, and an efficient kindler of his reader's compassion with the sufferings of the Jewish refugees. Customarily, the mood of folk-oriented blues lyric is that of despair, grief, and feeling of hopelessness, which is suitable for the subject of suffering. (7) Second, each stanza of a blues lyric, conventionally, tends to be a complete unit, the form of which could facilitate the reader's empathy with different aspects of the protagonist's suffering, which, when addressed by separate stanzas, would be impressive, memorable, thus more likely to arouse the reader's sympathetic feeling. Lastly, as a special kind of folk song, a blues lyric often contains more pauses than other lyrics of similar length, which might serve to reinforce the poem's moral affects when it is properly read, and read aloud. For instance, the interjection of "my dear" in the third line of each stanza brings about two regular caesuras while the reading of the whole poem creates regular pauses because each line is end-stopped; together with other caesuras caused by different semantic units, these pauses add to the poem's emotional weight--if properly read and closely listened to, they sound much like the broken sobs of the speaking protagonist.

Auden had made a wise choice about the genre, yet his ingenuity seems to have resisted mechanical use of it. Traditionally, in a blues lyric, each stanza consists of three lines rhyming "AAB" with its second line repeating the first, often with variation, and with its third line offering a comment, a solution, or a contrast (Henderson 142). While retaining the tradition in line number and rhyme scheme, "Refugee Blues" has its distinctive features which might have been out of Auden's idiosyncratic thematic-aesthetic concerns. For instance, in each stanza, the first two lines, no longer a repetition, are more informative and cognitive, and the third line, with two caesuras, is distinctively affective and even tear-jerking.


The question of "what the poem is" is inseparable from that of "what the poem does," and the latter question could be addressed with the idea that a poem does things with words. For instance, the deixis in "Refugee Blues," capable of evoking the reader's compassion and unease, has contributed much to the force of "wind" in the poem, though the overall diction is somewhat casual (perhaps as an echo to the asylum county's apathy toward the refugees' sufferings).

As a kind of linguistic "markedness," deixis functions as an intensifier that facilitates the transmission of the refugee speaker's intense desire for consolation, comfort and care. In particular, the repeated interjection "my dear," embraced by the repeated structure, seems to be iconic of an embracing gesture offered by the speaker, also a gesture symbolic of the need for interdependence and mutual care among the fellow refugees. In other words, the interjection, as a kind of "social deixis," might imply that the speaker could expect none but his or her fellow Jewish refugees to care for him or her, and that, due to the same misfortune and the same sense of helplessness, they became closely related and mutually dependent and had to sympathize with each other, cry on the shoulder of each other, and support each other, even if they do not knew each other by name. The sympathetic feeling evoked by the above interjection is further reinforced by other deictic expressions. The "space deixis" ("this" and "there") in the first two stanzas seems to connote that coming to "this city" of the new land would bring no significant change to the refugees' life and fate, though they had already managed to escape from Nazi Germany--their own country "there" in Europe. Besides, the two contrasting "time deixis" in stanza 2 ("Once we had a country"; "We cannot go there now") intensifies the feeling of loss. Then, the recurrence of "person deixis" ("us," "we," "you and me," and "our") throughout the "blues" adds to the feeling of loneliness and helplessness.

Meanwhile, the readers' pathos about the Jew's situation may escalate as their cognition increases by encountering such modality expressions like "We cannot go there now," "Old passports can't do that" (i.e., cannot be renewed like the old yew), and "They must die"--a heartless order given by Hitler. In addition, repetitions at both clausal and phrasal levels in the third line of each stanza, as "one of the characteristics of highly emotional language" (Corbett and Connors 392), powerfully enhance the poem's thematic cohesion and add to its force of "boniness." At clausal level, the reader could be easily be affected by the repetitions of "there's no place for us," "We cannot go there now," "But where shall we go to-day," and so on (Auden, Another Time 98). At phrasal level, each time the interjection "my dear" occurs, the reader has to pause at least twice within a line, thus scissoring the line into three shorter segments, which produces a staccato effect and intensifies the tone of helplessness and sorrow, a kind of "ch'i" ("affection") containing the poem's stern "bone" of compassion which is a kind of moral duty. And, whenever repetition occurs, regular or irregular, the moral affect of compassion could be felt immediately by the reader.

According to Michael Burke, the theme of a literary work provides essential "affective inputs" for its reading (Literary Reading 133).8 Compassion with the Jewish refugees, as the dominant theme of "Refugee Blues" is of course an essential "affective input" in the process of what Burke calls "affective literary reading." Under the headword "compassion," at least five interrelated sub-themes of the poem, also as five dimensions of the above-mentioned stern "boniness" or five dimensions of the moral affects, could be construed through a top-down discourse processing.


In accordance with the five causes (and details) of the characters' suffering, the sub-themes could be described as five "lacks"--the lack of residence, the lack of nationality and identity, the lack of dignity, the lack of security, and the lack of freedom and pleasure. When we engage with the text in a bottom-up way, arguably, it is the poetic style or what Liu calls the "wind" that produces moral affects, evokes the reader's emotive reactions, and eventually realizes the poem's artistic merit and humanistic value. In this sense, we could say, the "bone" of the poem performs its "speech acts" only through its "wind."

Upon their arrival in the big city of the strange land, Jewish refugees received no accommodation and no residence; this was the harshest reality they had to face and is vividly presented in the poem. The opening stanza records the speaker's melancholic or even desperate remark to his or her fellow refugees. lhe first line, setting a cosmopolitan city as the setting ("Say this city has ten million souls"), seems to give the speaker a gleam of hope. Soon, the third line, starting with "yet," disrupts both the speaker and the reader's expectations established just now by the rhyming couplet, thus generates a sharp contrast between hope and reality. Such depressing contrast is augmented by the contrast between the size of the city that one could imagine and the plight of the refugees who would probably have no dwelling place. Further, these contrasts are reinforced by the assonance of [au] sound in "souls," "holes," and "no" (occurring twice), which recalls the exclamatory word "oh." The emotive associations thus established, like a wind, may affect the reader with intense pathos about the serious suffering. Lexically, the word "souls" is more affective than other words like "citizens" or "dwellers," because from a semantic point of view, the word is "marked" with respect to the other words for its humanistic connotation which is absent from such neutral words like "dwellers" or "persons." Similarly, the rhyming word "holes" in the second line, which indicates poor housing conditions of the lower classes or ghettos crammed with destitute people, also has moral connotation. Yet, things would be worse with these Jewish immigrants who are offered no living space at all, for even these "holes" do not belong to them. Such distressing fact astonishes us and evokes in us a strong sympathetic feeling. Then, the refugees' plight of owning no residence recurs in stanza 11, in which the startling image of a copious Babel-like huge mansion is described by the speaker as part of his nightmarish dream (".... a building with a thousand floors," "A thousand windows and a thousand doors"). The repletion of the sound in the exaggerated phrase "a thousand," which rhymes internally with the word "ours" in the third line, sharpens the contrast in living conditions, thereby creating a fierce affect of disappointment and poignancy, which is further reinforced by the end rhyme in "floors," "doors," and "ours." Actually, the ending sound of the stanza forms a slant rhyme, which, by disrupting the rhyme scheme of the whole poem ("AAB"), foregrounds the affect of disappointment and poignancy felt strongly by the refugees in the asylum country.

Having no nationality and identity is the second plight the Jewish refugees suffer, which is artistically and vividly addressed from stanzas 2 to 4. Having been chased away from their homes and unable to return, the nostalgic refugees look at their country "in the atlas," probably with tears of sorrow and nostalgia. lhe image of "old yew" (a kind of coniferous tree) in stanza 3, originally an ominous symbol of death, is used here as a symbol of rebirth or hope due to its capability of blossoming anew each year. However, such a hope is soon disrupted by its analogy with the refugees' "old passports" that have no hope of automatic renewal at all--once out of date, the passports are officially invalid, which explains why the speaker has to seek help from the German consul (presumably at the German embassy of the "asylum country") hoping to secure a new passport. The consul exhibits ridiculous and violent reactions of banging the table and speaking ill words, the experience of which frustrates the speaker, putting him and his fellow refugees in more painful plight. Being declared as "officially dead," from stanza 5 on, the speaker no longer uses "I" (or "we") as sentential subjects till the end of the poem, presumably, as the consequence of the consul's oracle-like speech act. In terms of iconicity, the unusual omission of the first-person subjects from stanza 5 through the last stanza seems to echo the refugees' great sense of loss due to their lack of nationality and personal identity. One's passport means one's identity abroad--inhumanely, they are even deprived of the rights to exist in the world. In effect, the ellipses of subjects, linking different parts of the poem by way of syntactic iconicity, have foregrounded the Jewish refugees' loss of identity, thereby intensifying poem's moral affects and inviting the reader's full empathy with the suffering.

The Jewish refugees enjoyed little human dignity and suffered severely from racial discrimination, unsympathetic immigration policies, and unfavorable and unfair refugee policies in asylum countries largely due to anti-Semitism. (9) In stanza 5, their poignant experience at "a committee" is vividly recounted. The speaker says, full of grievances, "Went to a committee; they offered mea chair; / Asked me politely to return next year" (Auden, Another Time 98)--what the committee has done is simply going through the motions, unwilling to do anything helpful. Adding the lines' moral affect is the word "politely" which, ironically, has negative connotation--the committee members maintain a polite persona to keep the couple calm, pretending that they would but could not help; the "politeness" proves to be cold and aloof. The affect is further reinforced by the phrase "next year"--a year is an extremely long time to wait for those with neither mansions nor holes in which to live. The word "to-day" in the third line, with the two syllables being hyphenated, emphasizes the anguish the speaker is going through in contrast with the instruction of returning in a year's time given by the committee.

Indicating the phenomenon of anti-Semitism in the "asylum" country as well as the reality of Jewish refugees' almost futile salvage-seeking, stanza 6 introduces the strongly stereotyped and prejudiced view that Jews are not entitled to their due and should be avoided. The phrase "daily bread" in the middle line reminds the reader both of anti-Christian attitudes by certain church-going people and also of their severe lack of food. A similar predicament is addressed in stanza 8. Since the autumn of 1938, the passports of all German Jews were stamped with a larger letter "J" for easy identification (Stevenson 199). Their passports could be used to leave Germany, but not to return. Even worse, the passports could hardly be renewed in the asylum countries like the United States. Linked phonetically by alliteration, the image of a poodle, whose 'jacket [is] fastened with a pin," becomes a contextualized symbol of the German Jews whose passports were stamped with the capital letter "J." Thus, an analogy is construed between human and animal, in which the German Jewish speaker is degenerated to the status of a poodle wearing the pinned jacket: the poodle in the marked jacket (standing for the Jews) is not allowed to enter the room while a cat (standing for non-Jews) without such a mark is allowed ("Saw a door opened and a cat let in"). The satirical contrast invokes in the reader strong affects of indignation and compassion, which is reinforced by the use of definite articles in the above-mentioned stanzas. Definite articles also functions in stanza 4: "The consul" must be the German consul in the foreign land--the very person bearing the responsibility of helping his or her German compatriots out of trouble, but the contrary is true--he or she is inconceivably indifferent and cruel to the speaker. Meanwhile, indefinite articles also play their roles. The phrase "a committee" in stanza 5 refers not to a specific committee; rather, it can be any committee dealing with refugees affairs in the new land, whose refusal to help the speaker implies that such attitude and inaction are common among many committees there. The indefinite article in the phrase "a public meeting" in stanza 6, similar to that of "a committee" in stanza 5, may imply that the kind of prejudice against the Jews existed in many public gatherings there. Also, the indefinite articles in "a poodle" and "a cat" in stanza 8 may suggest that the notion of racial discrimination was so influential that even animals are distinguished according to their species.

Besides, the German Jewish refugees, suffering from nervous fears, were in a constant state of insecurity and anxiety due to Nazi's persecution. Stanza 7 depicts such a psychological state by establishing an analogy between the auditory image of rumbling thunder and that of horrible Hitler who had determined to exterminate Jews. Here, the [^] sound connects "thunder rumbling" with the deontic modal-verb "must"--as if to indicate their danger and fear of being persecuted by Nazi; that the [ai] sound connects "sky" "die" and the demonic anti-Semitic "mind" of Hitler may create a similar affect. Iconic of the speaker's lingering fear as a way to reinforce the analogy, these rhymes arouse in us intense moral compassionate for their mental suffering. In stanza 12, that is, the concluding stanza of the poem, the speaker is seized with greatest fear as he or she told about his or her dreadful nightmarish dream to his or her fellow refugees. The alliterations and internal rhymes in "stood," "snow," and "soldiers" could create a tone of nervousness about "our" precarious future since "[t]en thousand soldiers" were "[l]ooking for you and me" at all places (Auden Another Time 99). Also important to notice is the indefinite article in the phrase "a great plain": the refugees are virtually in danger of being caught or killed at any "plain," because the Nazi soldiers are searching them all the time.

The last plight of the Jewish refugees must be their lack of freedom and pleasure, as is impressively revealed in stanzas 9-10. The visual-kinesthetic image of the swimming fish is a symbol of freedom while the visual-auditory image of birds' singing may symbolize the basic right of pleasure-seeking--the Jewish refugees have neither of them. In stanza 9, the speaker "Went down the harbour and stood upon the quay" as if to look for a chance to board a ship for freedom--something of a day dream because of his or her expired passport. In terms of freedom and pleasure-seeking right, they are inferior even to species like fish or bird. The image of the woods, where birds are living freely and happily, forms a sharp contrast to the reality of human society in which man's freedom is always restricted, and happiness is always destroyed. The birds in the woods do not have politicians, thus do not need the absurd passports to prove their identity, to fly or to sing. Therefore, for the speaker, it is the politicians who are to be blamed, because their working out and implementing the discriminatory racial laws has directly led to their sufferings.

All in all, for its moral affects through "wind" (style) and "bone" (moral theme), "Refugee Blues" deserves a central place in the Auden canon.


In "In Memory of W. B. Yeats" (1939), Auden famously avows that "poetry makes nothing happen," yet itself is a "way of happening, a mouth" (Another Time 108). Demurring poetry's overt functions, Auden implies that poetry's way of happening is distinctively its own--it affects the audience like the "force of wind and bone," "bright and firm," "rich" and "stern." Talking of the affective power of literary works, Liu argues, "The transmission of the disconsolate feelings (ch'ing) always begins with wind [phrase omitted] and "the quality of wind contained in the affections is like the way our shape holds ch'i within it [phrase omitted] (219). Here, "wind" refers to the external force manifested in literary language while "ch'i" the internal force of human affects. A poet's feelings/affections ("ch'i") move inside out from the consciousness/mind, becoming words on the page just like a forceful infective wind; then, the wind, as carrier of the poet's feelings/affections, will be fully experienced in the act of "affective literary reading." This might be the most distinctive way poetry happens as intended by Auden. After all, poetry is the most concise form of expression, whose brevity helps reinforce its vigor, which also accounts for the fact that affect contained in poetry (lyric in particular) is far more powerful than that contained in other literary genres.

As is acknowledged by many critics, Auden is "a genuinely humane, humanistic writer, someone whose first interest is in people, their actions, ideas, emotions ... he really feels about them, most of the time" (Jarrell 72-73). Such an evaluation is an echo to Auden's own definition of poetry--in the literary-historical context, he once defined poetry as "a medium which expresses the collective and universal feelings" (Auden, Prose I 724)--"clear expression of mixed feelings" (qtd. in Mendelson, Later Auden 103). With its moral affects, Auden's sonnet sequence from Journey to a War is praised as the "most profound and audacious poem of the 1930s, perhaps the greatest English poem of the decade" (Mendelson, Early Auden 349). (10) Similarly, thanks to the moral affects of "Refugee Blues," the poem has a potential to offer a comfort for any kind of refugees at any time and any place, who suffer badly and lastingly from lacks of residence, identity, dignity, security, freedom, or from various kinds of physical and psychological troubles. Appealing to the reader's pathos and doing things with words, the poem powerfully calls for a change in attitude and policy by any country or state where refugees arrive at--with more humane immigration laws, a new land should mean a new life for them. Things have been done (and potentially will continue to be done) through its highly affective interplay of "wind" (stylistic and technical virtuosity) and "bone" (moral and humanistic theme). "Refugee Blues" has already won a place in literary anthology of holocaust, and it deserves a place in other important literary anthologies as well, because it has affected its readers, and will continue to affect its future readers, spurring solutions to the problem of any mass suffering in the human world. (11)

The "wind" and "bone" of "Refugee Blues" result in significant persuasive power. As Charles Altieri has pointed out, Auden's poetry written in the late 1930s and early 1940s manifests a "return to rhetoric" (126) after an earlier period of imitating the style of high modernism. His revolt against "impersonality" of his predecessors in the historical context had actually transcended what Northrop Frye calls the "inner verbal strength" (113) of poetry for its own sake. "Refugee Blues"--a prime example of Auden's early canon--witnessed his deliberate effort in exercising the power of poetry as a kind of "moral rhetoric" in terms of both argumentation (12) and artful deployment of verbal devices. Randall Jarrell, a sincere admirer of Auden, called his idol "a master at moving an audience as he wished it to be moved" "a true and magical rhetorician" (86, Jarrell's emphasis), and thought of his poetry of the late 1930s as "unprecedented among modern poets" (86, Jarrell's emphasis). It is certain that the moral and humanistic value of the Auden canon deserve more thorough critical attention.

YI TANG is a senior lecturer in English language and literature at Central South University of Forestry and Technology (Changsha, Hunan Province, P.R. China). He received his PhD in English Language and Literature at Central South University (P.R. China), and has published articles in The Explicator, Foreign Literatures, Shandong Foreign Language Teaching Journal and other journals. Tang is a non-native speaker of English.

Yi Tang




I am grateful to the Philosophy and Social Sciences Fund (13YBA428) at Hunan Province, P. R. China for supporting the project of "Moral Poetics of W. H. Auden (before 1941)" from which this article arises.

(1.) It is reported that 21,000 German Jews emigrated in 1935, 24,500 in 1936, 23,500 in 1937, 40,000 in 1938, and 78,000 in 1939. "Of the Jewish emigrants from Nazi Germany, about 55,000 migrated to Britain, 53,000 to Palestine, perhaps 80,000 to the United States, 50,000 to Latin America, 25,000 to France, and tens of thousands elsewhere--for instance, 10,000 went to Shanghai, the great seaport in China which did not require a visa for entry, and 9,000 to Australia" (Rubinstein et al. 215-16).

(2.) For a good review of British and American immigration and refugee policies in the late 1930s, see Aronson (10-12).

(3.) Auden moved to America on January 26, 1939 and lived in Brooklyn Heights of New York City till 1941.

(4.) Employed in a stylistic framework, "affect" and "emotion," and also "affective meaning" and "emotive meaning," can be used interchangeably, see Burke, "Emotion: Stylistic Approaches" (127).

(5.) In the essay by Wimsatt and Beardsley, affect is not ignored or even downplayed; rather, they treat the role of affect fairly and objectively, acknowledging that both the "logic of an emotion" and "surface or texture of a poem" are important to a poem, for "[p]oetry is characteristically a discourse about both emotions and objects," "a way of fixing emotions or making them more permanently perceptible" (98,101).

(6.) Distinguished from "self-conscious emotions," "other-conscious emotions," which is more ethically oriented, can be divided into three groups: other-critical emotions (contempt/disgust and anger/indignation), other-praising (gratitude, awe), and other-suffering (pity or compassion) (Moll et al. 2).

(7.) For a discussion of the blues convention and its appropriation in this poem, see James Held's perceptive article "Ironic Harmony: Blues Convention and Auden's 'Refugee Blues'," in which Held has accounted in detail the emotional power of the poem in the light of such convention.

(8.) Burke discussed five kinds of inputs for "affective literary reading"--LRI (literary reading-induced mental imagery), location, mood, theme, and style, see Chapters 3 to 6 of Burke's Literary Reading.

(9.) According to Jonathan Freedman, Jews have always been wrongly stereotyped as rapacious people, "desirous of profits, greedy for gold," reaching out their hands "to grasp the fruits of the earth ... withholding or even stealing them from worthy gentiles;" such a stereotype has been unfairly glossed again and again by anti-Jewish thinkers ever since the early modern time (65).

(10.) Speaking sympathetically for the Chinese as well as indignantly against the Japanese aggressors, the sonnet sequence reveals to the world that China needed support and care, and the fascist invaders were evil and should be defeated.

(11.) For example, it is included in Holocaust Poetry edited by Schiff.

(12.) By the way, I would argue that, Auden's argumentation in poems like "Refugee Blues," addressing the problems of the Jewish refugees and largely of all kinds of mass human suffering, were used exclusively for saving human civilization, rather than for ideological concerns as is claimed by some critics.


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--. Later Auden. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999.

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Author:Tang, Yi
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 22, 2017
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