“A Summer Night”, also known in an earlier and longer version by its first line, “Out on the lawn I lie in bed”, is one of W. H. Auden’s most admired poems of the 1930s. It describes the conditions of its speaker’s “lucky” contentment while relaxing among friends, but with a guilty awareness that his privileged ease rests upon hidden violences of oppression. More successfully than most other Auden poems of this period, it thus connects private moods with public anxieties in its oblique response to the economic Depression and to Hitler’s accession to power in Germany (January 1933). Critics and biographers have variously highlighted this as a key work in Auden’s development, the poet himself perhaps hinting as much by placing it at the start of a distinct 1933-1938…

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Citation: Baldick, Chris. "A Summer Night". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 05 November 2016 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=35839, accessed 17 April 2024.]

35839 A Summer Night 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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