‘Refugee Blues’ is a poem by the British poet Wystan Hugh Auden. He composed it in 1939. The poem portrays the plight of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany before the Second World War. The Jewish people were forced to run away from greater Germany ruled by the Nazi party but failed to find refuge elsewhere. The poem depicts the condition of Jews traumatised by the kind of oppression they had to face. It deals with multiple themes, including isolation, discrimination, loneliness and banishment. In poetic language, blue is the colour of sadness or melancholy. The poet solemnly represents the tragedies of fate in the lives of Jews who were compelled to leave their motherland by a tyrant.
Germany that used to be their home had changed. The land felt like a foreign land, and the people seemed like mere strangers. Auden says, “Once we had a country”, which emphasises that the Jews no longer belong to Germany. They were treated like animals, exploited and subjugated by the men who once used to be their friends. The poem is a painful memory that no one wants to remember. The speaker expresses his grief at facing discrimination in society. He is a victim of class differentiation and sees no chance of hope in future.
Towards the end of the poem, the poet wants his readers to play an active role in bringing a change in the deprived people's lives. He is hopeful that one day there will be a classless society, and people will live in harmony. Humanity will prevail, and autocracy will be abolished.
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