Auden, the distinguished poet, playwright and author, was of the opinion that "a poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language" (W.H. Auden n. pag.). In his poem "Lullaby" (Auden 29), there is a clear focus on the expression of love. The speaker, who is talking to his sleeping beloved, thinks about the fact that beauty is not everlasting, because as human beings, we are all subject to mortality. Despite the speaker's negative wandering thoughts, he wants to treasure the night with his lover. He speaks directly to his beloved – praying, though not in a religious manner, that his sleeping beloved will fully experience life and never be troubled by life's unanswered questions. (Lullaby n. pag.) This commentary essay on the language of love will focus on what the speaker sets out to achieve in the poem and how he accomplishes this. The stanzas will be analyzed individually, paying close attention to the notions of diction, figures of speech and rhetoric, tone and form. .
For the purpose of this discussion it is important to note Auden's sexual orientation; he was gay. Seeing the content in its period of time, it may be seen as controversial. The majority of his love poems was autobiographical and therefore it may be assumed that the beloved in Lullaby is a man. The poem is without a doubt directly spoken to one specific person. This implies that the beloved is the addressee in the poem. (Lullaby n. pg.) The beginning of the poem is very intimate and it also takes on a form of command: the beloved must lay his head on the speaker's arm. The introductory part of the spoken lullaby focuses on mere humanity, mortality and time; what makes people human: "Human on my faithless arm" (line 2). The reader may start to think about the things that relate to the idea of humanity and mortality: the body, brain and heart – all transitory parts.