The Unknown Citizen


During the 1920s and 30s, many American writers left the states to become expatriates overseas, particularly in Europe. Ernest Hemingway, T. S. Eliot, and F. Scott Fitzgerald are three famous examples. W.H. Auden, however, did the opposite. He was an Englishman who moved back to “the colonies” (the U.S.) in 1939, at the height of his creative powers. Auden wrote “The Unknown Citizen” while living in New York, and the poem gives evidence of his culture shock when suddenly confronted with American-style chaos and consumerism.

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