Summary and theme of the poem " Say this city has ten million souls" by W.H.Auden

This is the summary, theme, critical appreciation and, reference to the context of the poem Say this city has ten million people. This is a very important poem that is included in the syllabus of B.Students. I have written a summary, theme, and critical appreciation of the poem in simple and easy language. A student can easily learn it.

say this city has ten million souls

"Say this city has ten million souls"

W.H, Auden (1907-1973)

 Introduction of the poet 

He was born in 1970 and died in 1973. W. H. Auden was an American poet. He was born in a middle-class family. He attended English grammar school. He taught in American universities for some time. He also traveled to Iceland and china to write books. He wrote about politics, love, and religion. Auden also wrote plays. Auden wrote almost four hundred poems and more than four hundred plays.

Introduction of the poem

This poem is written by a British poet W. H. Auden who moved to U. S. in 1939 and became an American citizen. His later work displayed his Philosophy.. In 1947, he won Pulitzer Prize. In this touching poem, W.H. Auden is talking specifically of the German Jews who fled their country being afraid of Hitler's persecution, but the feelings conveyed are equally appropriate for any other immigrants.

Summary of the poem

 The poem is thought-provoking.  In this poem, he gives us the picture of America where class distinction exists completely. Some people live in huge buildings and some are living in small cottages. But there is no room for those people who come to this country from other countries for protection and shelter.

The poet recalls in a pathetic manner that once they had a country of their own. It was very dear to them. They can go back because they have no home. He remembers the different sense of his country. The old passports are a hindrance. in their going back. The old passports are unable to identify them. They are a hindrance to their freedom and rights.

The poet is very sad due to the attitude of passport officials. They told him that without a passport he is dead. The poet goes to the seaport and sees the fish swimming freely in the water. He sees birds chirping in the trees, which enjoy more freedom than human beings. Perhaps, they enjoy this freedom because they are not politicians in them They are fortunate because they are not human beings.

 The poet says that there are many huge buildings in this country. They have a thousand windows and a thousand doors. But we have no home among these thousands of buildings. On the other hand, they are suspected as an enemy to the country by thousands of soldiers who are deputed to check their identity? Soldiers definitely killed them.

The poet has been successful draw a sad picture of refugees. The refugees suffer physically as well as emotionally they are isolated and alienated from the main lot. The point is that man has become worse than animals.

Critical Appreciation

This is an issue-based poem. the poet pleads with the case of the immigrants of World War II. Hitler's killing of the German Jews on a very large scale forced the survivors to seek refuge in the United States of America However, when they reached there, they found that there was no room for them. Auden insists on helping humanity beyond the issues of caste, creed, and religion.

Auden describes the miserable plight of the Jews who migrated from Germany to America. They were badly affected by the war. They had lost their dear ones. They had lost their homeland. They recall that they had a country once, but now they cannot return to it. The poet condemns the inhuman treatment o the refugees at the passport counters. They begin to realize that a refugee has no country to claim his own. In a place where their identity does not matter, they are dead officially, though alive physically, Every refugee faces similar problems of citizenship. There is general hatred against them.

The poet expresses grief that even birds and animals live a better life than the refugees The poet analyzes that the birds enjoy this freedom as they have not politician among them. The poet successfully presents the case of the immigrants.

The theme of the poem

This poem highlights an international issue of refugees. The problems of refugees are common in the world. The poet describes the feeling of homeless people. According to the poet, human life has fallen beneath the level of animal life. The poet criticizes politicians because politicians corrupt the world.

Reference to the Context


These lines have been squeezed from the poem " Say this city has ten million souls" written by W. H. Auden.


In this poem, the poet tells us that the Jews were banished out of Germany by Hitler during World War II. They tried to take refuge in America but they were maltreated. They were hated and insulted. They were not given the citizenship of America. Sometimes they were considered lower than the dogs and the cats. They did not find shelter in a big city where many-storied buildings existed.

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