Stop All the Clocks by W.H. Auden

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In contrast to this poem is "Stop All the Clocks..." by W.H. Auden. This poem uses no language that is out of the ordinary, and is in no way controversial. Though it is deep and sorrowful it isn't as aggressive as Havisham. Auden uses an AABBCCDDEE scheme which is a very organised rhyming scheme known as 'rhyming couplets'. Very regular grammar and all of the verses are separated as you normally would do.

He wants the language to do more for the poem than the grammar.

The poem is about the death of a man (perhaps a friend or lover) referring to W.H. Audens sexual preferences and his feelings afterwards. He does not use any metaphors but some of the rhyming couplets he uses could be seen as unusual, "...cut off the telephone...give the dog a juicy bone" shows that he has paid high detail to everything that he wants to take notice, nothing in the world is to be left untold of the awful tragedy that he has suffered.

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A different angle on separation was taken up by John Donne when he wrote "Valediction: Forbidden Mourning" for his wife when he had to leave on a business trip. Although it was different considering the fact that the two of them knew they were going to reunite. Donne wrote about their love and he compared it to massive events that were far more important than their romance to anyone else, but to John his romance was bigger than the universe, but at times as simple as a compass as it comes together.

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He says that "As virtuous men pass mildly away... let us melt" comparing their parting to the death of a good man, he did this because, when he wrote the poem, good men died with no fear of death, because they knew they were going to go to heaven. Symbolising that they will have nothing to fear from being apart from one another. He also compares his love to the Universe, "Trepidation of the spheres...though greater, still is innocent" meaning that their parting is like the movement of the spheres, an ancient belief that the universe was divided into spheres. This symbolises that their love is greater than earth quakes, but their parting will not harm them. The grammar in this poem is standard, and there is no rhyming scheme. He shows that great feelings can be achieved through just writing from the heart. The form relates to the subject of the poem, because in separation, nothing unexpected will happen to them.


I think that although "Havisham" is the shortest and most controversial of the three poems it is the best. It is so surreal and unusual. The way Duffy turns Havisham into a monster bent on revenge then turns her back into an innocent girl who has been abandoned by the only person she ever loved is sheer genius. Although "Valediction..." is very deep and thoughtful it just does not compare to the outrageousness of "Havisham" and "Stop all the clocks" is just boring compared to this. I think Havisham has to be one of the best poems I have ever read. I think that what makes "Havisham" my favourite though is the fact that is so fresh. I don't know how Duffy came up with such an awe inspiring poem but if I had to pick a poem to read for the rest of my life, "Havisham" would be unquestionably it.

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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Stop All the Clocks by W.H. Auden. (2017, Aug 18). Retrieved from

Stop All the Clocks by W.H. Auden essay
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