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The Well Read Poem

May 24, 2021

Welcome to Season 3 of The Well Read Poem podcast. In this third season we will explore six lyric poems by the great English modernist W. H. Auden. The study of Auden’s poetry is in many respects a study of the 20th Century itself, and of its religious, philosophical, and political concerns. 

Auden was one of the great chroniclers of the so-called “Age of Anxiety,” a term he coined, and a brilliant and sympathetic analyst of modern man’s fears and hopes, beliefs and unbeliefs. Poem begins at timestamp 8:51.

Roman Wall Blues

by W. H. Auden


Over the heather the wet wind blows, 

I've lice in my tunic and a cold in my nose. 


The rain comes pattering out of the sky, 

I'm a Wall soldier, I don't know why. 


The mist creeps over the hard grey stone, 

My girl's in Tungria; I sleep alone. 


Aulus goes hanging around her place, 

I don't like his manners, I don't like his face. 


Piso's a Christian, he worships a fish; 

There'd be no kissing if he had his wish. 


She gave me a ring but I diced it away; 

I want my girl and I want my pay. 


When I'm a veteran with only one eye 

I shall do nothing but look at the sky.