Sunday, April 22

Stop all the Clocks

Funeral Blues
W. H. Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

I do not generally like poetry but Funeral Blues by Wystan Hugh Auden (1907-1973) is one of all my time favourite poems.
It is the most beautiful, meaningful, truthful poem about death to me. The lines "He was my North, my South..." are incredibly touching. When I first read the poem I was deeply moved. I love it. And the thought of calling nature to withdraw, of packing up the moon and dismantling the sun is both romantic and sorrowful.
I do not know the circunstances behind his writing Funeral Blues but it seems to me that he suffered the loss of his (male) lover -he was homosexual- and wrote such a magnificent poem to express his grief, and he really makes you feel his pain and abandon with every verse.
The final line is a summing line, wrapping up the poem: For nothing now can ever come to any good.

This poem was included in the film four weddings and a Funeral, and when I heard the words of this memorable poem spoken exactly at the appropriate time -at a funeral- by the character of Mattew I thought that this beautiful scene made the film worth seeing. The fact of using it in a film does not diminish the quality of the poem.

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