Refugee Blues

Say this city has ten million souls,
Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes:
Yet there's no place for us, my dear, yet there's no place for us.

Once we had a country and we thought it fair,
Look in the atlas and you'll find it there:
We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there now.

In the village churchyard there grows an old yew,
Every spring it blossoms anew:
Old passports can't do that, my dear, old passports can't do that.

The consul banged the table and said,
"If you've got no passport you're officially dead":
But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive.

Went to a committee; they offered me a chair;
Asked me politely to return next year:
But where shall we go to-day, my dear, but where shall we go to-day?

Came to a public meeting; the speaker got up and said;
"If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread":
He was talking of you and me, my dear, he was talking of you and me.

Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky;
It was Hitler over Europe, saying, "They must die":
O we were in his mind, my dear, O we were in his mind.

Saw a poodle in a jacket fastened with a pin,
Saw a door opened and a cat let in:
But they weren't German Jews, my dear, but they weren't German Jews.

Went down the harbour and stood upon the quay,
Saw the fish swimming as if they were free:
Only ten feet away, my dear, only ten feet away.

Walked through a wood, saw the birds in the trees;
They had no politicians and sang at their ease:
They weren't the human race, my dear, they weren't the human race.

Dreamed I saw a building with a thousand floors,
A thousand windows and a thousand doors:
Not one of them was ours, my dear, not one of them was ours.

Stood on a great plain in the falling snow;
Ten thousand soldiers marched to and fro:
Looking for you and me, my dear, looking for you and me.

by WH Auden

Comments (18)

This poem is about today. Change Hitler to Trump, Europe to America, and German Jews to Muslims or Mexicans, and you're there.
As an American living abroad, I find it moving and sad. We have not improved since World War 2. We all know that today's fleeing refugees can relate to this.
Very impactful. I used to own numerous WH Auden books. I had forgotten how powerful his poems were. As you wrote in another of your articles, we can not fall into forgetfulness, especially now. To be awake is to not turn away from suffering.
Very nicepoem
hello all i would first like to tell WH Auden what wonderful poetry she/him have written, and then to write a warning of my own- WARNING -contains SHARP IMAGERY such as ADOLD HITLER..... would enjoy on my one with a cup of coffee but NOT with my 4 year old Grandson Aiden...... read at your own risk, much love, gerald
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