Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

 Night Mail by W.H. Auden, Introduction and Explanation

Night Mail is a 1936 British documentary film directed and produced by Harry Watt and Basil Wright, and produced by the General Post Office (GPO) Film Unit. The 24-minute film documents the nightly postal train operated by the London, Midland, and Scottish Railway (LMS) from London to Scotland and the staff who operate it. Narrated by John Grierson and Stuart Legg, the film ends with a “verse commentary”[1] written by W. H. Auden to a score composed by Benjamin Britten. The locomotive featured in the film is LMS Royal Scot Class 6115 Scots Guardsman.[2]

Wystan Hugh Auden (21 February 1907 – 29 September 1973[1]) was a British-American poet. Auden’s poetry was noted for its stylistic and technical achievement, its engagement with politicsmoralslove, and religion, and its variety in toneform, and content. Some of his best known poems are about love, such as “Funeral Blues“; on political and social themes, such as “September 1, 1939” and “The Shield of Achilles“; on cultural and psychological themes, such as The Age of Anxiety; and on religious themes such as “For the Time Being” and “Horae Canonicae“.[2][3][4]

He was born in York and grew up in and near Birmingham in a professional middle-class family. He attended various English independent (or public) schools and studied English at Christ Church, Oxford. After a few months in Berlin in 1928–29, he spent five years (1930–35) teaching in British private preparatory schools, then traveled to Iceland and China to write books about his journeys.

In 1939, he moved to the United States and became an American citizen in 1946, retaining his British citizenship. He taught from 1941 to 1945 in American universities, followed by occasional visiting professorships in the 1950s.

 

Night Mail is a 1936 British documentary film directed and produced by Harry Watt and Basil Wright, and produced by the General Post Office (GPO) Film Unit. The 24-minute film documents the nightly postal train operated by the London, Midland, and Scottish Railway (LMS) from London to Scotland and the staff who operate it.

Reference: These pertaining lines have been extracted from the poem “Night Mail” composed by “Wystan Hugh Auden”

Context: The poet offers a tribute to the LMS train that covers the areas from London to Scotland. The poem deals with the charm and beauty of the journey undertaken by Night Mail. It brings cheques, postal orders, and letters. During its journey, it crosses fields, and rough places and it climbs up the hills. But she reaches her destination on time. She has unique qualities as she treats all people alike. Moreover, she is a source of communication among the people of far-off places. Symbolically the poet is admiring the efforts of courageous people in society who are determined to bring positive change after the destruction of world war second, especially the best performance of women.

 

Night Mail by W.H. Auden: Lines1-4

Explanation:

 

In these lines, the poet describes the journey of Night Mail which crosses the boundaries of different towns and cities during the night. She continues her journey consistently and steadily according to her routine even though everyone is taking a rest at night. She brings cheques, postal orders, parcels, ordinary letters, business letters, and love letters. She does not serve any particular class of society. She serves the rich, the poor, the shopkeeper, and the girl without any discrimination. The night mail sets up communication among people of all sorts living in different parts of the world. She carries different sorts of letters with different messages to various people. She carries formal as well as informal letters. Thus, she is a source of satisfaction and comfort for the poor and the rich, for the businessman and the common people. She satisfies the needs of all sorts of people.

 

These lines give us the message of punctuality, equality, and commitment, Night Mall keeps on moving steadily and consistently ignoring all the obstacles and hurdles. She moves on continuously ignoring the unfavorable conditions and reaches to her destination on time. In symbolic meanings, the poet is admiring the selfless services of passionate, determined, and ambitious people in society) The poet pays rich tribute to women’s role in society. After the war, the whole load of responsibility for earning a livelihood managing household affairs, to work for the progress of the country on the shoulder of women. This splendid verse demonstrates the mastery of the language and use of personification to explain the women’s role. This unique idea makes the poem everlasting in English literature.

Night Mail by W.H. Auden: Lines5-8

Explanation:

In these lines the poet describes the challenging routes through which the night mail has to pass Sometimes, she has to climb up on a steady climb, and sometimes, she has to pass through steep and difficult paths. Her journey is very arduous. She is not disturbed by the obstacles of life, even though she enjoys her duties. Sometimes she runs up Beattock Summit, the highest point on the railway track, along the slope She Overcomes the sheer ascent and reaches her destination on time. Though she travels through ups and downs yet she does not get late. She passes through cotton fields and uncultivated rocky land. She is not afraid of any hurdle and white steam to be seen rising from the engine to the rear part of the train, it presents a very enjoyable scene for the on-lookers.

 

These lines give us the message of punctuality, regularity, and commitment. Night Mail keeps on moving away and consistently ignoring all the obstacles and hurdles. She moves on continuously ignoring the unfavorable conditions and reaches her destination on time. In symbolic meanings, the poet is admiring the selfless services of passionate, determined, and ambitious people in society; The poet pays rich tribute to women’s role in society. After the war, the whole load of responsibility for earning a livelihood managing household affairs, to work for the progress of the country on the shoulder of women. This splendid verse demonstrates the mastery of the language and use of personification to explain the women’s role. This unique idea makes the poem everlasting in English literature.

 

Night Mail by W.H. Auden: Lines 9-12

Explanation:

In these lines, the poet describes the graceful journey of the Night mail on its variety of routes whistling loudly. The train covers the long distance soaked in the silence of the night. Sometimes, she passes through grassy land where the wind blows and the long grass bends down. Whenever she passes by the bushes growing abundantly on the way, the birds look at her with surprise and pleasure. They just turn their heads to have a look at her empty coaches which are colorless and wan because she is not a passenger train. There is no activity or hustle and hustle observable in the night mail.

While describing “snorting noisily” the poet has personified the Night mail as a mare that runs fast with full teal and zest toward her destination. These lines give us the message of punctuality, regularity, and commitment. Night Mail keeps on moving steadily and consistently ignoring all the obstacles and hurdles on the way. She moves on, continuously ignoring the unfavorable conditions, and reaches her destination on time. In symbolic meanings, the poet is admiring the selfless services of passionate, determined, and ambitious people in society) The poet pays rich tribute to women’s role in society After the war, the whole load of responsibility for earning a livelihood, managing household affairs, to work for the progress of the country on the shoulder of women. This splendid verse demonstrates the mastery of the language and use of personification to explain the women’s role. This unique idea makes the point everlasting in English literature.

 

Night Mail by W.H. Auden: Lines 13-16

Explanation:

 

The poet paints the picture of the value journey of nig mat through afferent places. She does not cause much disturbance in her surroundings. Sometimes, she passes through the area where sheepdogs are dosing off while keeping their heads stretched ms. Because they know very well that they neither can bite the train nor change her track. Therefore, they enjoy their sound sleep Sometimes she passes by the peaceful and silent farmlands where people are seeping into their farmhouse. No sine gas up her arrival because they are accustomed to her arrival and departure. Only a jog begins as briner to its force and pressure when she passes by the house means, she does not go unnoticed

 

These lines give us the message of punctuality, integrity, and commitment Sight Mail keeps saving steadily and consistently ignoring all the obstacles and furdles Site moves on continuously going unfavorable conditions and reaches its destination on times symbolic meanings, gets admiring selfless services of passionate, determined and ambitious people in society, The poet pays rich tribute to women’s role in society. After the war, the whole load of responsibility for earning a livelihood managing household affairs, to work for the progress of the country on the shoulder of women. This splendid verse demonstrates the mastery of the language and use of personification to explain the women’s role. This unique idea makes the poem everlasting in English erature

 

 

By Saadia Raza

Saadia Raza is an accomplished educator with a passion for English literature and language. holding a masters degree in English, I have dedicated 20 years of my life to teaching at the college level. My deep understanding of the subject and effective teaching methods have earned me a reputation as a respected and influential figure in the field of education. My extensive teaching experience has not only honed my pedagogical skills but has also given me valuable insights into the evolving educational landscape.

3 thoughts on “ Night Mail by W.H. Auden”
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