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 for ever: 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.“
W H Auden
Funeral Blues – The title of the above poem, was popularised after W H Auden’s death in 1973 by broadcast on various mass media. It gained further popularity and exposure after being read at the funeral in the 1994 movie Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Written in its present form in 1938 it is a wonderfully sad and melancholy piece, however, a little known earlier 1936 version, written as a satire in five stanzas instead of four, exists.
Auden’s large body of work including Funeral Blues marks him as one of the great writers of the 20th Century.