What are the main themes in W.H. Auden's poem "Lullaby" (Lay your sleeping head, my love)?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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W.H. Auden's poem "Lullaby" suggests two central themes: the idea of living for the moment and timeless passion.  Although the poem is entitled "Lullaby" and alludes to children in the first stanza, Auden's poem is actually a passionate entreaty for his beloved to seize the moment and enjoy the night they may share together.  Auden weighs the passage of time's ability to strip beauty in verses three and four, suggesting that "Time and fevers burn away Individual beauty," but the speaker of the poem suggests that the lovers should live in the moment.  

Moreover, Auden's poem speaks to a theme of love without boundaries or time.  It is a love in which "the soul and body have no bounds" (11).  Later in the last stanza, Auden seems to slow down time, metaphorically using the times of day to represent lasting images of how love should remain throughout life; from "the winds of dawn" to "noons of dryness," Auden's vision of love endures (37, 39).


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