As the leader of the poets of thirties, W.H. Auden is one of the remarkable importance like Eliot he was deeply aware of the hollowness of post-war civilization. His earlier poems show a faith in the violent social revolution for a better order. It softened afterward and there is a marked drift from Marxism to humanism in his career. Christianity was an influence along with Freud. On the other hand, his later poems manifest objective observation of nature and its landscape. Look, Stranger is a poem about place and scene. This discovers to himself the fascinating beauty of Dover Cliffs enveloped all around by the sea. Auden feels himself a stranger to the sight when the sun suddenly leaps up from the bottom of the sea.
The poet asks the stranger to look at the wonderful scene which is introduced and enhanced by the first rays of the rising sun. In order to drink it deep, he is hinted to be completely absorbed in its beauty with silence and calm spirit. Thus, the music of the waves may go lazily trusting and turning through the ear like a river course. The description brings us back to William Wordsworth “Composed upon Westminister Bridge” where natural beauty at a particular point of time is revealed. The second stanza makes a shift in the perspective and advises the stranger to pause at the end of the field. The stranger will easily catch the cliffs falling into the sea while the narrow shelves of these walls boldly brave the blows of ways. The foam made by the dashing waves is sucked in by the sand and retiring water moves the coarse gravel. As the gravel moves and the foam begins to subside it appears as if the gravel id making a rude attempt to catch at the latter. A gull can be seen resting quietly on the steep surface of the cliffs.
The vision shoots to the distant spot of the sea where the ships are moving in the various direction on different missions. They seem to float like seeds wandering at random. This beautiful panorama is worthy of retention in the memory of the looker. It is almost like the reflection of passing clouds which are mirrored in the harbor throughout summer.
The poem with its easy mastery of free verse strikes us a brilliant lyric. The repetition of the “L” sound (leaping light delight) and the “S” sound (swaying sound ‘sea’) makes the poem musical. The phrases “channels of the ear” and “sucking surf” are evocating expressions. The simile “like floating seeds the ships” aptly describes the ships on the remote horizon. The metaphor “harbour mirror” presents the harbour as a mirror reflecting it all. The knock captures the very sound of the actions and is an exquisite example of Onomatopoeia. “Look, Stranger” is a remarkable poem which is true as well as tender.