Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Avoid the pet dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with smothered 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 general public doves,
Let the traffic police officers wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My twelve noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last permanently: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Evacuate the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever concern any good.
In life, people experience moments that are definitely inexpressible; from the birth of a firstborn child, to the death of a moms and dad; things in life that impact us with such unrelenting force, that we are unable to even fathom their depths.
It is the job of an author or poet to make a reader feel the emotions of others, explain the indescribable, and narrate.
W. H. Auden’s “Funeral service Blues” does all 3, and more for readers, due to its gorgeous detailed language, blinding images, and theme. The poem shows whatever that is required in such a great piece of literature. Have you ever heard the rustle of the leaves? The wind whistle, possibly? Both are examples of descriptive language that we hear every day, so often that it has ended up being common.
Auden takes the easy things and explains them with sharp detail. “Muffled drum” is an excellent example of a solemn drum beat of a funeral procession.
Aeroplanes groaning overhead” is an excellent example of personification, as if the aeroplanes are mourning the loss of the loved one also, and by extension, the world. This efficiently understands across that the author feels as if the world has actually stopped due to the death of this person, and is a really powerful message. The style of this poem is the loss of an enjoyed one, something that almost everybody has experienced in their life, or seen somebody go through. It is understood by many as the ill feeling one gets in their gut when they hear the news of death, or the resignation they feel once they know battling it will do nothing.
Death is a natural occurrence, but that knowledge does nothing to alleviate the pain of loss. It many ways, it hurts even more to think that your hardships and pain have been felt by billions before you; insignificance adds insult to injury. That is precisely why this poem works. The writer’s seemingly effortless words mesh together to paint a picture: a perfect understanding of loss. The need for one’s pain to not only be significant, but to be acknowledged by all.