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ALONE (1), by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography


"Alone" by W.H. Auden examines the paradox of human relationships and solitude, specifically within the context of romantic love.

The poem begins with an assertion that every lover has a personal theory about the pain (ache) of being in love versus being alone. In the second stanza, Auden contemplates the perplexity of physical attraction and love, proposing that the real bodily presence of the beloved can often seem as a mere reflection of the lover's own self - a "simulacrum".

In the third stanza, Auden references Narcissus, a character from Greek mythology known for falling in love with his own reflection. The poet suggests that Narcissus' inability to join his image in the lake - to connect with another - stems from his belief that he is alone, thus equating self-love with solitude.

The fourth stanza describes how the child, the waterfall, the fire, and the stone - elements of nature and innocence - are always causing mischief and taking the universe for granted as their own. This could be a commentary on the inherent egoism of humans or the universal desire to possess and control.

In the fifth stanza, Auden makes a poignant observation about the elderly, who, like the French author Marcel Proust, often perceive love as a subjective illusion. The more they love, the more isolated they feel, further complicating the interplay between love and loneliness.

The final two stanzas make an appeal for understanding the intricacy of love, loneliness, and human interaction. Auden suggests that despite our individual perspectives on love, each lover seeks to possess some form of "otherness". The poem ends on a somewhat consoling note, hypothesizing that perhaps we are never truly alone.

Through this poem, Auden probes the complexities of love, loneliness, and the human condition, hinting at the possibility that our relationships, our love, and our desire for the "other" might be what connects us, suggesting that we are never truly isolated.


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