W. H. Auden: Look, stranger, at this island now (2218 words)


“Look, stranger, at this island now” (1935) is a 21-line poem by W. H. Auden, also known by another version of its first line and by three different titles (see below). In those collections in which Auden divided his verse between Poems and Songs, he classed this one as a Song. It has often attracted admiration for its musical qualities, and indeed it was set to music by Benjamin Britten in 1938. Unencumbered by the political and erotic anxieties that are found in many of Auden’s other poems of the 1930s, it is a purer, although by no means simpler, evocation of the sights and sounds of a sea view at an unnamed coastal site. Appearing as the untitled poem numbered “V” in Auden’s collection Look, …

Citation: Baldick, Chris. "Look, stranger, at this island now". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 20 January 2017 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=35855, accessed 22 April 2021.]

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