First published in 1939 and appearing in his collection Another Time (1940), ‘The Unknown Citizen’ by W.H. Auden can still be considered relevant and stark in its satirical treatment of the ‘ideal’ member of modern society – the acceptable, unobtrusively conformist citizen.
The collection also includes, among other notable and well known pieces, ‘Funeral Blues’, ‘Spain 1937’ and this, read by Sheila Hancock for Holocaust Memorial Day 2017. Again, as moving and as relevant as it was nearly 80 years ago.
Would you have chosen the same
if you had known? Blown by the winds
of change and dissatisfaction.
A little goat’s milk, perhaps
some hard boiled eggs.
Would you take direction
from those who would document
your campaign or refrain
from hot sauce and hot topics
to settle for some corned beef?
Would it be a release, a relief
to know of your ultimate consumption?
Sit me up, turn me loose
the proof is in the pudding.
There are harsh realities. I have to accept that my running is a selfish thing. From training to racing, it is entirely dependent on the acceptance, goodwill and generosity of others; family, friends, strangers. When we talk about commitment and sacrifice the greatest is usually demonstrated by those who support our endeavours. If we value our freedom to run and race we ignore this fact at our peril. It is worth considering how we repay such gifts.