W. H. Auden: Fish in the unruffled lakes (2088 words)


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“Fish in the unruffled lakes” (1936) is a short love-poem by W. H. Auden classified by him as a “song”. Auden never gave this poem a title, so it is known by its first line or, under the arrangement of his lyrics in Collected Shorter Poems 1927-1957 (1966), as the fifth in the sequence headed “Twelve Songs”. In its three rhyming stanzas, the speaker at first offers melancholy reflection upon the apparent gulf between opposed realms of animal grace and of human self-awareness, before suddenly adopting the voice of a lover giving thanks that his beloved has united those realms on the previous night in “voluntary love”. As a love-poem, its oddity is that it is cast as a philosophical …

Citation: Baldick, Chris. "Fish in the unruffled lakes". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 15 December 2016 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=35847, accessed 22 April 2021.]

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