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Topic: Funeral Blues

By W H Auden
Presented to: Sir Tariq Abbasi
Presented by: Saba Kamir
Sehrish Jabeen
Mehwish Rafique
Syed Oan Abbas Kazmi
Arif Hussain
Subject: American Literature

Wystan Hugh Auden was an English poet, who later became an

American citizen.
Born: February 21, 1907, York, United Kingdom
Died: September 29, 1973, Vienna, Austria
Full name: Wystan Hugh Auden

W.H. Auden was a British poet, author and playwright best known
as a leading literary figure in the 20th century for his poetry.

Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common
denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: All of
them make me laugh.
W.H. Auden

W.H. Auden, also known as Wystan Hugh Auden, was a poet,

author and playwright born in York, England, on February 21,
1907. Auden was a leading literary influencer in the 20th century.
Known for his chameleon-like ability to write poems in almost
every verse form, Auden's travels in countries torn by political
strife influenced his early works. He won the Pulitzer Prize in

Early Life

W.H. Auden was born Wystan Hugh Auden in York, England, on

February 21, 1907. Raised by a physician father and a strict,
Anglican mother, Auden pursued science and engineering at
Oxford University before finding his calling to write and switching
his major to English.
Auden pursued his love of poetry, influenced by Old English verse
and the poems of Thomas Hardy, Robert Frost, William Blake and
Emily Dickinson. He graduated from Oxford in 1928, and that
same year, his collection Poems was privately printed.

Career Success

In 1930, with the help of T.S. Eliot, Auden published another

collection of the same name (Poems) that featured different
content. The success of this collection positioned him as one of
the leading influencers in literature in the 20th century.

Auden's poems in the latter half of the 1930s reflected his

journeys to politically torn countries. He wrote his acclaimed
anthology, Spain, based on his first-hand accounts of the
country's civil war from 1936 to 1939.

More so, Auden was lauded for his chameleon-like ability to write
poems in almost every verse form. His work influenced aspiring
poets, popular culture and vernacular speech. He stated
in Squares and Oblongs: Essays Based on the Modern Poetry
Collection at the Lockwood Memorial Library (1948), "A poet is,
before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with

After moving to America, Auden's work shifted away from political

influences to instead reveal more religious and spiritual
themes. Another Time, a collection that debuted in America,
features many of his most popular poems, including September 1,
1939 and Musee des Beaux Arts.

Accolades followed Auden, including his 1948 Pulitzer Prize win

for The Age of Anxiety. Though best known for his poetry, Auden
was also a distinguished playwright and author.

Personal Life
Auden wed Erika Mann, daughter of German novelist Thomas
Mann, in 1935. The nuptial did not last, as it was a marriage of
convenience for her to gain British citizenship and flee Nazi

Auden, ever the avid traveler, visited Germany, Iceland and

China, and then, in 1939, moved to the United States. On this side
of the pond, he met his other true callinghis lifelong partner,
fellow poet Chester Kallman. Auden eventually became an
American citizen.

With his health waning, Auden left America in 1972 and moved
back to Oxford. He spent his last days in Austria, where he owned
a house. Auden died in Vienna, Austria, on September 29, 1973.

Funeral Blues

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 wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

"Funeral Blues" or "Stop all the clocks" is a poem by W. H.

Auden. An early version was published in 1936, but the poem in
its final, familiar form was first published in The Year's
Poetry (London, 1938).


An unnamed speaker laments the death of someone close to him.

(The speaker's gender is never given, but we'll refer to "him" from
now on for convenience.) The speaker asks for quiet. He wants to
stop all clocks and telephones and to silence barking dogs and
pianos. He says to bring out the coffin of the dead beloved, and
for the mourners to come.

He continues on in a similar vein; and asks the airplanes to write

"He Is Dead" across the sky. He says that doves should wear white
ribbons and that policemen should wear black gloves to
commemorate the death.

Then things take a turn for the personal. He says that the dead
man was everything to himall points of a compass, every day of
the week, every time of the day. And the worst part is that this
experience has taught him that love won't last forever, as he once

That's when he starts to really despair. He doesn't want to see the

stars, the moon, or the sun. He doesn't want to see the ocean or
the forest. Now that the dead man is gone, there is no good left in
the world. None at all.

"Funeral Blues" pretty much puts it all out there in the title: this is
a poem about death. Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad death.
After the death of his loved one, the speaker has no joy or hope.
He is completely and utterly devastated. There's no silver living in
this poem, no happy endings, no smiles or songs. There's only the
notion that death is the pits, and not just for the deadfor the
living, too.
Language and Communication
The speaker spends a whole lot of time in "Funeral Blues" issuing
commands to an unnamed audience. He may be actually giving a
eulogy at a funeral, or he may be talking to himself and
expressing his desires. Either way, communication plays an
important role in this poem, because we have all kinds of it here
private telephone communication, public skywriting, even traffic
directing. "Funeral Blues" raises all kinds of questions about
private and public speech, and private and public mourning. Does
mourning have to be a public act? This speaker seems to think so.
Man and the Natural World
The speaker of "Funeral Blues" wants us to put out the stars and
dismantle the sun. These hyperbolic statements and the ones that
follow are all about shutting down the natural world in order to
demonstrate this poor guy's grief. It seems like the speaker knows
that his commands are hyperbolic, exaggerated, and impossible,
but thinks that nothing smaller than nature itself can
communicate his despair accurately
Critical Analysis
The title of Funeral Blues, by the English poet W. H. Auden
(1907-1973), might at first suggest genuine lamentationthe
kind of mourning or sorrow often found in popular music
associated with African Americans. But the tone of Audens poem
quickly becomes obviously comic and playful. The references to
mourning here are mostly exaggerated, in ways that make them
difficult to take seriously. The speaker seems, at least until the
third stanza, to be having fun rather than expressing genuine
pain. Only in line 12 does it seem possible to take the phrasing
completely at face value. Otherwise the poem seems mostly an
exercise in wit and cleverness.

The poem opens vigorously, with the strongly accented verb

Stop, a beginning that simultaneously suggests an ending.
Indeed, much of the rest of the poem is also built on heavily
emphasized verbs of command. The tone of the work is highly
imperative. The speaker issues orders, but the orders he issues
suggest that he is not taking either himself or the supposed death
too seriously. The poem immediately creates curiosity: who has
died? How did he die? Why does his death seem so significant?
These questions are never answered, which is part of what makes
the poem seem so intriguing and playful.

By opening with the phrase Stop all the clocks, the speaker
cleverly alludes to the idea that in death, time ceases (at least for
the dead person). Part of the paradox of this opening, however, is
that the tone and pace of the poem seem so rushed, as if time is
running out for the speaker as it has already run out for the
corpse. The speaker frequently uses what would be called,
according to standard grammar, comma splices, as in the very
opening line. By creating such splices, he gives the poem an
effect of breathless hurry, as if many words and ideas must be
crammed into a limited amount of time and space. Most of the
first stanza, however, deals explicitly not with time...

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