Funeral Blues “A METEOR FROM the universe of Wystan Hugh Auden flashed into the atmosphere of American culture in 1994 when "Funeral Blues," a poem written in 1936, was recited in a eulogy scene in the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral. ” (Johnson) Many people have wondered what it is like to lose someone they love; if one does not know the feeling they are very fortunate. Some people think that without that certain someone, their life will cease to exist. In W. H.
Auden’s poem “Funeral Blues,” a woman loses her lover and cannot even imagine how she is going to get on with her life; she puts her deceased companion on a God-like pedestal; and she loves him so much that she believes that he is her whole world. In “Funeral Blues,” Auden makes the bitter attitude of the speaker toward the subject of death apparent to the readers through the use of symbols, imagery, and metaphor. In the first verse, the speaker states “stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone…” (Auden Line 1).
The clock being stopped may signify the fact the man who died has run out of time, or possibly to ask those who knew him to stop what they are doing and grieve. With the idea of the telephone being cut off, she wants to show the deceased the respect he deserves by honoring him with a moment of silence. In the second verse the speaker states, “let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead” (Auden 5). She uses this metaphor to reveal the pointlessness of her life. What is the point of planes flying in circles? They do not get anywhere flying in a circle. She is comparing the pointlessness of flying in circles to her life without her partner.
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The persona in the poem talks about her deceased partner as if he is on a God-like pedestal. The reader realizes just how important the deceased is to the speaker when reading the phrase “…He is Dead”. (Auden 6). The use of the capital letters displays the incredibly close relationship between the two lovers. She talks about the aeroplanes scribbling sky messages, it is very doubtful that someone that is not in the limelight is going to have sky messages at their funeral that rarely happens at a celebrity funeral, let alone at a funeral of someone who is not in the limelight.
To show the God-like significance, “He” is capitalized when she is talking about the writing in the sky. She also thinks that the funeral procession is going to be so long that they will need a police officer directing traffic. The persona in the poem continues to describe the intimacy between her and her lover, claiming that he was her “North, South, East, and West” (Auden 9). She has just realized that because of her companion’s death, along with everything else, her love has also come to an end.
Like before, she commands the reader to carry out impossible tasks. “The stars are not wanted now: put out every one; Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun” (Auden 13-14). She also begs for the oceans and forests to disappear. ”Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood. ” (Auden 15) Without her lover, she feels like her life is meaningless. The speaker honestly believes that because of this tragic event, “…nothing now can ever come to any good. (Auden 16) She cannot picture her life without him, almost like she does not want to survive without him. W. H. Auden does not want one to find the meaning of the poem, but to feel the grief on how this person does not believe in living anymore since her loved one has passed away. It shows that she wants everything to stop and for everyone to feel what she’s feeling and mourn together with her. She put her lover on a God-like pedestal and thinks that he is just as important to everyone else like he is to her.
Auden’s choice of words draws the reader into a greater understanding of the intensity and depth of feelings experienced upon the loss of a loved one. The symbolism used by the poet pulls us into the actual world of grief as the speaker searches for ways to mourn this passing. Works Cited Auden, W. H. "Funeral Blues. " Literature and the Writing Process. 9th Ed. McMahan, Elizabeth, et al. Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2011. 614. Print. Johnson, Jeffrey. Christian Century 4 September 2007: 47-48. Academic Search Premier. Web. 26 February 2013.
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