A Debate on the Relationship between Poetry and Politics in W.H. Auden's In Memory of W.B. Yeats and A. Ostriker's Elegy before the War
Journal of Education Culture and Society
W.H. Auden's In Memoriam W.B. Yeats and A. Ostriker's Elegy Before the War are two pre-war elegies, in which personal and political dimensions are juxtaposed. W.H. Auden's poem portrays the death of a celebrity against the background of the perplexing 1930s when there was evident growing anxiety about Facism and its repercussions. In her long, 7-section work, A. Ostriker not only commemorates her dead mother, she also formulates a very powerfully articulated anti-war manifesto, in which she
... o, in which she both denounces American imperialism during the 2nd Iraq war and questions the meaning of war and violence. W.H. Auden's elegy serves as a starting point for a debate A. Ostriker sparks over the role of poetry and its relationship with politics. When analysed together with the author's essays on poetry, their other famous poems and their post-war elegies (The Shield of Achilles and TheEight and Thirteenth), the two poems taken under examination display that the poets' stance concerning the role of poetry is neither explicit nor consistent. It is interesting also how the debate can be perceived in the context of a dilemma signaled in A. Ostriker's Poem Sixty Years After Auschwitz where the poet deliberates over what should be the appropriate shape and tone of poetry after the Holocaust.