W.H. Auden's poem "Say the City Has Ten Million Souls,"
Analysis of the Auden's (1939) poem, "Say This city Has Ten Million Souls" provides the opportunity for connecting the social precepts of place and displacement offered by Aschcroft et al (1989) for explaining the plight of the refugee as marginalized by the host society. In doing so, the poem becomes a lens for understanding the use of Fairclough's Critical Discourse Analysis Model for assessing the three dimension of literature. The outcome of the following academic discussion provides a tapestry of the psychological, emotional, and social, challenges of the human as refugee expressed in this literature.
Key Words: place, displacement, refugee, CDA Model, literature
W.H. Auden's poem "Say the City Has Ten Million Souls,"
Auden's poem "Say the City Has Ten Million Souls" from a conceptual framework of displacement looks at the effect of dispossession, dislocation, and exile on the humanity of the refugee. Using Ashcroft et al (1997) view of disenfranchised refugees, with the methodology of Fairclough's (1995) Model of Critical Discourse Analysis providing a textual analysis, interpretation, and explanation then, underpins the examination of Auden's poem exemplifying the plight of the refugee. Review of literature shows the effect of World Wars I, and II other wars waged by world power stakeholders' impact on macro and micro level life of displaced populations as well as comparisons with such literature as Shamsie's "Burnt Shadows," Hamid's "The Reluctant Fundamentalist," and Hossaini et al, "The Kite Runner."
Auden's "Say the City Has Ten Million Souls"
Cohen (2011) reminds how the late president Franklin D. Roosevelt's wife Eleanor told the world, "A new type of political refugee is appearing," she observed from Europe in January 1946, "people who have been against the present governments and if they stay at home or go home will probably be killed (p. 3)." This idea, underpins the message of the German, and other Eastern European Jews as described by the narrator in Auden's poem, "Say the City Has Ten Million Souls" on the fate of the Jew and others escaping Hitler's terror as refugees. A refugee realizes they remain unwelcome, without a recognized identity, a people without a home as described in Aschcroft et al (1989) becoming separated from all he or she ever identified with as belonging to some place (De La Cadena & Starn, 2007; Hollenbach, 2010).
Smith (2007) explains, "Displacement occurs not just in the physical world, but in the head, in the very language one has to learn again (p. 190)." At the same time, the reference to place, according to Harris' (2005) view of Aschcroft et al (1989) explanation, "Importantly they emphasise the fact that the term place is not merely synonymous with landscape (p. 71)." [Sic] Aschcroft et al (1989) describes this idea of place putting the refugee into a marginalized condition "constructed by the posited relation to a privileged center, and directed by the authority (p. 104)." This is the heart of the feelings articulated in Auden's poem with the marginalization the refugee experiences set forth by the host society.
The refugee cultural identity of self and community desperately attempts creating a lifeline memory to "home" but also, the outcome as expressed by the narrator in the poem is one of either unconscious or conscious oppression of the indigenous personality according to the view of where nations toward their origins (Tunstall, 2006). The relocation of people, from their culture, their identity as Auden's poem aptly expresses proves the possibility of alienation becoming the refugees' self-image (Ashcroft et al., 1989, p. 9). Clearly, Auden (1939) provides the example of social alienation in the line, "The consul banged the table and said, 'If you've got no passport you're officially dead": But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive (p. 29)." As an example of contemporary poetry, Auden's "Say" show the universal application of the demographic and physical displacements of people of modern history who become refugees as immigrants with no choice. Such displacements as described in spirit of the poem look at the Russian Jews of Russia during WWI and again in Germany WWII, as well as the millions of Armenian refugees from Turkey, leaving 40 million exiles filling Europe (Cohen, 2011; Israel, 2014).
The poem of the exile in general creates the metaphoric conditions of the displacement of humans as a state of being. As a poem of displacement, therefore, Auden's "Say" according to Smith (2007) exemplifies poetry of displacement in seeking "to make accommodations with its predicament, forging manageable, if provisional, identities from the shifting allegiances of a globalised culture, where no claims on loyalty and allegiance can be seen as absolute (p. 9)." [Sic]Consequently, Smith (2007) explains that, "Displacement, then, is not simply an external, geopolitical phenomenon." Rather, it remains and internal process where (as exemplified in Auden's "Say") the refugee or exile finds his/her humanity cast out from its own sense of culture and history, even at times, from the very language "in which it has been constituted (p. 10)." Markedly, according to Hollenbach (2010), "The fact that so many people (seek) to move across borders for many reasons has led to a growing resistance to admitting them (Hollenbach, 2010, p. 2)." The 21st century continues this resistance in fact, and with those admitted to other nations as refuge, the resistance continues within the borders.
Fairclough's Model of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA)
Incorporating Fairclough's Model of CDA frames on the social interaction of texts relating to the strength of using the following dimensions for analyzing Auden's poem "Say" aligned to society. This looks at the different dimensions of this process in researching the depth and meaning of the piece of literature (Henderson, 2005; Mirzaee & Hamidi, 2012). The following discourse therefore, provides textual, interpretation, and explanation analysis of Auden's poem, "Say" Focusing on place and displacement the textual analysis of Auden's (1939) "Say" and textual analysis according to Fairclough's Model of CDA, requires going beyond the visual and verbal textual signs. Therefore, in following the narrative perspective of the poem the reader focuses on the historical intention of place and displacement. Textually, the poem succeeds in placing the narrator somewhere different from his roots. In doing so, the displacement emerges. Auden (1939) writes, "Say this city has ten million souls, Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes: Yet there's no place for us, my dear, yet there's no place for us (p. 29)." The textual verbal analysis looks at the manner the poem provides the dichotomy between knowing and not knowing and thus, reinforces questions relating to the place and displacement underpinnings of the poem. Auden (1939): "Once we had a country and we thought it fair, Look in the atlas and you'll find it there: We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there now (p. 29)." This also, according to Henderson (2005) provides an example of Fairclough's CDA approach of textual analysis aligned to social theory (p. 6) connecting with placement and displacement of humans (Ashcroft et al, 1989).
Fairclough's method for processing analysis of interpretation of literature (in this case) looks at production and reception influences based upon contextual factors. From the context of the placement of the narrator (et al) at present, Auden employing narration shows the displacement he intends by providing a first person perspective. Thus, allowing the reader's interpretation that the narrator's displacement results in context to the current location away from his historical roots (Flaircough, 1995). Auden (1939): "Went to a committee; they offered me a chair; Asked me politely to return next year: But where shall we go to-day, my dear, but where shall we go to-day? (p. 29)." This clearly puts the displacement issue in context with the placement of the refugees to the committee.
Use of the CDA model explains the use of language connected to social practice and the link to historical contexts. This provides the means for taking existing social relations in the poem as the placement of the narrator and at the same time serves the interests of the displacement aspect as expressed from the point of view of Jewish refugees explained in the poem. The literary power of the poem from the perspective of the CDA model links to the narrative character of the text enabling the reader to connect to the emotional language intended by Auden thus, positioning the reader in the place of the narrator's psychological and emotional context of place and supplanting as a refugee. TaAuden (1939) writes, Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky; It was Hitler over Europe, saying, 'They must die': O we were in his mind, my dear, O we were in his mind (p. 29)."
Auden's, "Say ", Connection to Other Works
Kamila Shamsi's "Burnt Shadows" connects to Auden's poem "Say" showing the extremes of multiple race, culture, and homeland effect on the protagonists' identify of self as a causal factor of the environment. The message the story links to the poem showing profound challenges of people finding their place in a new society amid the transposition of this activity having everything to do with reclaiming, or rebuilding their lost identify resulting from this unwanted but necessary life condition (See, 2009; Jaggi, 2009).
"The Reluctant Fundamentalist"
Comparing the story of "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" to the intentions of Auden's poem as an example of what the refugee faces as already explained – a marginalized existence -looks at the underlying message of the author Hamid (2007) using the narrative perspective telling how one person connects with the emotions of being an outsider – American nonetheless always the outsider. The narrator examines his Americanization from the perspective of a Middle Eastern person in a Western setting before and after September 11 (Winthrow, 2006; Olssen, 2007; Anthony, 2012).
"The Kite Runner"
As proposed in the introduction this academic investigation using Auden's (1939) poem "Say the City Has Ten Million Souls" from a conceptual framework of place and displacement ascribed by Aschcroft et al (1989( looked at the impact of dispossession, dislocation, and exile.
Globalization, international organizations for the assurance of the world peace, multiculturalism now as symbolic of the 21st century as technology remains embedded in prejudicial realities. No remedy exists to banish prejudices and minimize sufferings of those who have nothing to do with the power games. Displacement and state of homeless is still very much there. "As long as there are wars, injustices, oppression, poverty and harsh environments, there will be refugees seeking a better and safer life for themselves and their families ("Refugees Need Help, Not," 2013)."
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Auden, W. H. (1939). "Refugee Blues: Say This city Has Ten Million Souls". The New Yorker. p. 21.
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Henderson, R. (2005). A Faircloughian Approach to CDA: Principled Eclecticism or a Method Searching for a Theory? Melbourne Studies in Education, 46 (2), 9-24. ISSN 0076-6275.
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