Petition Poem by W. H. Auden Summary line by line

Petition Poem by W. H. Auden Summary line by line

Petition Poem by W. H. Auden Summary line by line-Petition, authored by W. H. Auden and first published in 1939, emerges as a stirring reflection on the societal and political upheaval of its era. Auden's poem serves as a poignant testament to his deep-seated concerns for humanity and ethical principles. Through his characteristic lyrical prose, Auden captures the essence of urgency and moral indignation, compelling readers to confront the injustices prevalent in the world.

Petition Poem by W. H. Auden Summary line by line
Petition Poem by W. H. Auden Summary line by line-With vivid imagery and eloquent language, "Petition" encapsulates the turbulent atmosphere preceding World War II, while issuing a timeless appeal for empathy, solidarity, and proactive engagement. The poem resonates as a fervent call to action against oppression and tyranny, underscoring the enduring imperative of speaking out against injustice in any epoch.

Petition Poem Summary

"Sir, no man's enemy, forgiving all"

Addressing someone respectfully, suggesting a willingness to forgive all adversaries.

"But will his negative inversion, be prodigal:"

Acknowledging that even forgiveness can have its limits, implying that negativity can be excessive.

"Send to us power and light, a sovereign touch"

Requesting divine or transcendent intervention, symbolized by "power and light," to provide guidance and transformation.

"Curing the intolerable neural itch,"

Seeking relief from psychological distress or discomfort, represented metaphorically as a "neural itch."

"The exhaustion of weaning, the liar's quinsy,"

Desiring healing from the draining process of separation (possibly from dependence), and from the consequences of deception.

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"And the distortions of ingrown virginity."

Hoping to overcome the constraints or limitations imposed by narrow-mindedness or lack of experience.

"Prohibit sharply the rehearsed response"

Urging a rejection of automatic or scripted reactions, advocating for authenticity and spontaneity.

"And gradually correct the coward's stance;"

Encouraging a gradual shift away from behaviors or attitudes characterized by fear or timidity.

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"Cover in time with beams those in retreat"

Metaphorically shining light on those who are withdrawing or retreating, possibly to encourage them to reengage with life.

"That, spotted, they turn though the reverse were great;"

Suggesting that with encouragement and support, individuals can reverse their course, even if it seems difficult.

"Publish each healer that in city lives"

Advocating for recognition and appreciation of those who provide healing and support, whether in urban or rural settings.

"Or country houses at the end of drives;"

Acknowledging healers who may work in more secluded or rural environments.

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"Harrow the house of the dead; look shining at"

Possibly metaphorically suggesting a cleansing or purging of past traumas or grief, with a hopeful outlook for the future.

"New styles of architecture, a change of heart."

Encouraging openness to innovation and transformation, both in physical structures and in emotional or spiritual growth.

Petition Poem Themes

Forgiveness and Reconciliation: The poem explores the theme of forgiveness and the possibility of reconciliation, advocating for peace and understanding among adversaries.

Transformation and Healing: It delves into the journey of personal and societal healing, emphasizing the desire for positive change and relief from suffering.

Authenticity and Courage: There's a call for genuine responses and courageous action, highlighting the importance of authenticity and bravery in facing challenges.

Community Support: The poem recognizes the role of healers within communities and the significance of communal support in times of need.

Hope and Renewal: Despite acknowledging various forms of suffering, the poem maintains a hopeful outlook, envisioning a future marked by renewal and innovation.

Spirituality and Divine Guidance: It touches upon themes of spirituality and divine intervention, suggesting a belief in transcendent forces that can guide and heal.

Social Critique: Lastly, the poem subtly critiques societal shortcomings, urging for reflection and addressing issues such as deceit and narrow-mindedness to progress towards a better society.



"Petition" by W. H. Auden stands as a timeless testament to the enduring struggle for justice and human dignity. Through its eloquent verses and poignant imagery, the poem encapsulates the tumultuous spirit of its era while resonating with relevance in contemporary times.

Auden's impassioned plea for compassion, empathy, and collective action serves as a rallying cry against oppression and injustice, urging readers to confront the injustices of the world and strive for positive change. As we reflect on the enduring significance of "Petition


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