W.H Auden’s “Funeral Blues,” written in 1936, illustrates a funeral scenario where the speaker expresses his sadness over the loss of a loved one, and the respect and silence that was present, followed by past memories. The speaker ends the poem with how nothing matters to him anymore, as nothing can take him back to the past.
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BY 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 woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
Analysis of Auden’s “Funeral Blues”
20th century poet W.H Auden’s 1936 poem, “Funeral Blues” focuses on themes of dependence, death, and grief. The issue that the poem deals with is that of somebody losing a loved one, and therefore, the aforementioned person feeling as though their world has been destroyed. The idea of total loss is shown, and the poem evokes many emotions in the readers, including pain, despair, and sadness.
The poem is of the narrative type, as it tells the story of the death of somebody and how that has affected the speaker. The narrator talks about how he feels after somebody important has passed. Auden uses first person to build a direct connection between the readers and the poem, and this also makes the poem a strong and emotional one.
Poetic techniques like symbolism are widely used in this poem to assist in the portrayal of the key themes of death, grief, and dependence. For instance, in the first stanza, sayings like, “Stop all the clocks” and “silence the pianos” symbolize how the speaker is affected by the death of somebody; they show feelings of grief and denial.
Throughout the poem, there are words that represent a sad and unpleasant connotation. Words such as “cut off,” “stop,” and “silence” have a sudden and negative connotation. Furthermore, the colors in the poem like “Blue” and “Black” represent a very depressing and cold emotion. In the last stanza, words such as “pack up,” “pour away” and “dismantle” represent a separation and isolation of the world that the speaker chooses to be in as he is very upset.
The poem can easily resonate with a lot of readers’ values and beliefs. It can resonate with anyone who values the people around them and heavily depends on loved ones in times of need.