Losing a Loved One in Funeral Blues, a Poem by W.H. Auden

Topics: Funeral Blues

“Funeral Blues” (530) was written in the 1900’s by an author named W.H Auden. It is a popular poem, and was included in the British movie “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” in which it is read at a funeral. The poem is about losing a loved one. The narrator has lost the love of their life, and now that they have, nothing else matters- not even life itself. It is touching and sad, and one can assume the narrator is a widow who has just recently lost their spouse.

The poem paints a picture for readers, and tries to explain the true pain of how it feels to lose someone who was loved so dearly. “[Funeral Blues]” does an excellent job of displaying themes of grief, love, and depression, all while flowing well and following a rhyme scheme.

The poem shows many emotions, including but not limited to grief, love, remembrance, and depression. The narrator speaks highly of their recently deceased lover.

“He was my North, my South, my East and West, my morning week and my Sunday rest, my noon, my midnight, my talk, my song,” (530) it is clear that the narrator thinks their love was the best thing in the world. Now that they are deceased, the narrator feels they cannot go on without them. When Auden writes “The stars are not wanted now; put out every one: pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,” (530) it shows that the narrator does not know how to live without their love, nor do they want to bother trying.

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It is questionable when the narrator says “I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong” (530). While it is a strong line, especially due to its punctuation, does love not last forever? It seems that if a love is strong enough, it does last forever. This is where the narrator caused slight confusion. Nonetheless, they are extremely in love still, despite the void that cannot be filled. “For nothing now can ever some to any good,” (530). The narrator truly believes that their purpose in life is no longer, just because they lost the love of their life. The first stanza leads the reader to believe the narrator is just going through the motions, but feels numb. “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” (530). They are just letting everything happen, for example, silencing the piano and dog, and letting mourners come and go. But, they also ask for clocks to stop, signifying they do not want it to happen, and they want the telephone cut off, because they do not want to answer it. Not only is speaking to everyone about the death terrible, but it makes it feel real. It is tragically beautiful that the narrator feels this way. But it shows their grieving process, the memories they appreciate with their passed person, and the deep depression they are feeling. Readers can truly feel the emotion the narrator is feeling throughout the poem.

This poem has short stanzas of four lines each, and an AABB rhyme scheme, which is unusual. While unusual, the poem still flows well when read aloud. It is an elegy, which is a reflection poem that is typically reserved for the dead. The poem was organized in an orderly fashion- beginning with tasks, and things that are going on around the narrator. The narrator then shifts to their personal feelings about their recently passed-away love, and it gets intensely deep. Overall, Auden stuck to an interesting rhyme scheme that poets do not typically used, but still managed to make the words flow together. The first line uses hyperboles, because the author is ordering that everything stop solely because of the death of their love. Auden did a great job of staying away from simple language. Because the author used much more in-depth words, it made the poem that much more meaningful. Instead of simply saying they heard an airplane outside, Auden wrote “Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead” (530). By using descriptive language, readers can paint a clearer picture in their minds. When writing “My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song” (530), the author is using metaphors to explain just how important this person was to them. One particular line that seemed emphasized was: “Pour the ocean away and sweep up the wood,” (530), because again hyperbolic metaphors are used- you cannot literally do either of these, assuming the author meant the forest or woods.

As far as themes go, this poem was fairly transparent. Love, depression, remembrance, and grief were repeating factors. But, it seems that pessimism and hopelessness are reoccurring as well. Towards the end, the narrator seems to have given up on everything. The last line specifically highlights the narrator’s pessimism and hopeless outlook on life: “For nothing now can ever come to any good” (530). The speaker even begins the poem unhappily. It seems they wanted to quiet the dog, silence the piano, and just get some peace and quiet. When the speaker explains how much his beloved dead meant to him: “He was my North, my South, my East and West”, it compares to one losing their actual compass in the woods. How will they go on? The narrator is clearly bereaved, and has no intention of moving on. At first, they want to do things correctly and orderly, but they cannot hold themselves together, and an outpour of emotions is released. The readers then get to see a more personal, touching side of the speaker.

Auden brilliantly showed what it is like to go through grieving of someone close to you.“[Funeral Blues]” not only was deep, but was well-written and displays raw emotions to readers. The simple elegy followed a rhyme scheme, and the stanzas went from casual to deep emotion. While it flowed smoothly, the poem properly captured grief, love, and depression. “[Funeral Blues]” wrapped up the devastating mood of funerals.

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Losing a Loved One in Funeral Blues, a Poem by W.H. Auden. (2021, Dec 25). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/losing-a-loved-one-in-funeral-blues-a-poem-by-w-h-auden/

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