Study Guide

As I Walked Out One Evening Man and the Natural World

By W.H. Auden

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Man and the Natural World

On the surface, "As I Walked Out One Evening" may just be about a guy strolling along an English city street. But when we dig a little deeper it becomes clear there's more going on. This one explores, among other things, the separation between man and nature and whether or not this perceived separation really exists at all. What do you think?

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. In "As I Walked Out One Evening," how does Auden show humans to be part of the natural world and in what ways does he show them to be separate from it? Which examples do you think are more convincing? Why?
  2. Is Time depicted in the poem as part of the natural realm or the manmade realm? In what ways does Time fit into both realms?
  3. Clocks and rivers are both used in the poem to represent aspects of Time. Which image do you find more compelling? How do the images represent different aspects of Time in the context of the poem?

Chew on This

Auden made a great choice having the clocks speak for Time. It maintains the sense of Time's power and mystique. There's no way Time would bother talking to us puny humans.

Auden incorrectly portrays Time as all-powerful because he neglects to bring faith and religion (man's only defense against the ravages of Time) into the equation.

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