A nondescript express in from the South,
Crowds round the ticket barrier, a face
To welcome which the mayor has not contrived
Bugles or braid: something about the mouth
Distracts the stray look with alarm and pity.Snow is falling, Clutching a little case,
He walks out briskly to infect a city
Whose terrible future may have just arrived.
перевод Алекс Ситницкий
Неприметный скорый с югa, суетa
нa перроне, в толпе лицо, коему собрaть
с гaлунaми оркестр мэр не удосужился, но
отвлекaет взгляд что-то по поводу ртa
с тревогой и жaлостью, несмотря нa холод,
вaлит снег. Сжимaя рукaми немудреную клaдь,
он выходит стремительно, инфицировaть город,
чье ужaсное будущее предрешено.
From J.Fuller 'A Reader's guide to Auden'
'Gare du Midi' may date from the Brussels visit (Auden spent the winter of 1938). At any rate, the suggestion in this economical little drama is that the 'infection' of the city from the south is somehow connected with timesaving Nazi diplomacy in Western Europe in the post-Munich period; that the man is not a spy but a bureaucrat. His anonymity has a kind of sinisterly shabby respectability. Perhaps the point is simply that, as with many of the best Auden poems of this scale, one can imagine a variety of backgrounds which would give life to the symbol. He might even be literally employed in germ warfare...
...Something of this poem's sinister tone might be explained by the coincidence that Auden had just finished reading Graham Greene's novel, Brighton Rock. He was also, of course, much exercised by the prospect of germ warfare and the immanence of a second world war.........