Share this:

Chapter 17 Refugee Blues Class 11 Woven Words English NCERT Summary are designed to aid students in recalling information more accurately and quickly. These notes condense important concepts and formulas into concise summaries making it easier for students to revise and review the chapter.

With Chapter 16 Class 11 Woven Words English NCERT Notes, students can effectively retain information and perform better in exams.

Chapter 17 Refugee Blues Class 11 Woven Words NCERT Notes

About the Poem

The poem portrays the suffering and hardships faced by Jewish refugees during the dark era of Nazi Germany. It highlights how these individuals were subjected to discrimination and persecution, forcing them to seek refuge in other countries. However, many were denied entry due to strict immigration quotas imposed by countries like England and the US. The poem evokes a sense of sadness and helplessness as it captures the profound trauma experienced by these displaced individuals who longed for a safe haven amidst a world plagued by violence and uncertainty.

About the Poet

Wystan Hugh Auden was a Professor of Poetry at Oxford University. During the time of his graduation, he was greatly influenced by the leading modernist poet TS Eliot. He has published several collections of poems noted for their irony, compassion and wit.

Chapter 17 Refugee Blues Class 11 Woven Words NCERT Notes

Say this city has ten million souls,
Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes:
Yet there’s no place for us, my dear, yet there’s no
place for us.

The poet is describing a city of Germany which has population of ten million. The people who are rich are living in mansions whereas poor people are living in holes but what strikes the speaker as particularly unjust is that there is no space or acceptance for German Jews within this city.

Once we had a country and we thought it fair,
Look in the atlas and you’ll find it there:
We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there

The poet shares the experience of living in a country that they once considered their own but unfortunately their rights were denied to them. Within the atlas, that place (at that time Palestine) is still there but the refugee and his friend are not allowed to visit.

In the village churchyard there grows an old yew,
Every spring it blossoms anew:
Old passports can’t do that, my dear, old passports
can’t do that.

The poet reflects on the cycle of renewal witnessed in the village churchyard where every spring the flowers bloom on the old tree. In these lines, the poet uses the contrast between nature and the refugees to highlight the never-ending cycle of renewal in nature, while the refugees are left without hope for a new beginning. The metaphor of renewal in nature represents the continuous growth and opportunity that exists in the natural world while the refugees are depicted as being trapped in a state of helplessness unable to return to safety due to their inability to renew their passports.

The consul banged the table and said:
‘If you’ve got no passport you’re officially dead’;
But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive.

The poet can no longer live in his own home, and the consul tells him directly that he’s “officially dead.” However, the refugee and his friend were still alive.

Went to a committee; they offered me a chair;
Asked me politely to return next year;
But where shall we go today, my dear, but where shall
we go today?

The poet recounts his interaction with the individuals in charge of finding homes for war refugees. Although they were polite towards him, they expressed their inability to assist him as their hands were bound by political constraints. They advised the poet to come back the following year in hopes of a more desirable situation.

Came to a public meeting; the speaker got up and said:
‘If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread’;
He was talking of you and me, my dear, he was talking
of you and me.

The poet recalls attending a public meeting where someone accused them of attempting to take away the livelihood of the city’s residents by barging in. The poet informs his companion that person had been speaking about them during the meeting.

Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky;
It was Hitler over Europe, saying: ‘they must die’;
We were in his mind, my dear, we were in his mind.

The poet heard the rumbling of an imminent storm but it turned out to be Hitler addressing his men mentioning that the Jews didn’t deserve to live in Europe.

Saw a poodle in a jacket fastened with a pin;
Saw a door opened and a cat let in:
But they weren’t German Jews, my dear, but they
weren’t German Jews.

The poet shows the stark difference in treatment between the jews and the animals. He sees a dog wearing a warm jacket and a cat getting into a car whose door had been held open for them. But the German jews aren’t even allowed to live. The poet’s intention seems to be shedding light on this unjust inequality and evoking a sense of empathy and outrage towards the plight of German Jews.

Went down the harbour and stood upon the quay,
Saw the fish swimming as if they were free:
Only ten feet away, my dear, only ten feet away.

The poet observed as he stood at the harbour and saw the fish swimming in the crystal clear water. They were just ten feet away from where the poet stood. However, unlike the refugee, these fish were fortunate enough to be free in their natural habitat free of by any boundaries or restrictions.

Walked through a wood, saw the birds in the trees;
They had no politicians and sang at their ease:
They weren’t the human race, my dear, they weren’t
the human race.

As the poet walk through the woods, he saw the birds in the tree singing soothing melodies that was filling the air. They were at ease as they didn’t belong to human race and had no politicians who make the lives miserable.

Dreamed I saw a building with a thousand floors,
A thousand windows and a thousand doors;
Not one of them was ours, my dear, not one of them
was ours.

The poet describes how the building he saw was grand and spacious enough to hold a thousand people, yet oddly there was no available space for German Jews.

Went down to the station to catch the express,
Asked for two tickets to Happiness;
But every coach was full, my dear, every coach was

The poet went to station to catch a train. He asked for two tickets to happiness but found out that every coach of the train is full and no ticket is available. The poet here clarified everyone is seeking refuge and thus the quota of refugee in different countries were also full.

Stood on a great plain in the falling snow;
Ten thousand soldiers marched to and fro:
Looking for you and me, my dear, looking for you and

The poet remembers standing on the vast plains and gazing through the falling snow. In this haunting scene, he recounts seeing a multitude of soldiers marching towards their location. These soldiers were on a mission to find them and carry out their intention to harm or even kill them.

Share this: