The poem Funeral Blues is about the death of the poet’s very close lover, we are not sure exactly who this person is but the poet was obviously close to him. The poet expresses his deepest feelings in the poem by trying to stop everything in the world while he grieves for the death of his lover
My first impression of the poem is that this poem is a lot easier to understand compared to “The Voice” and it had more meaning to it. It also felt like it wasn’t a story compared to “The Voice” its more of an assertive poem. The poet Auden uses fast flowing stanzas that make the poem seem urgent and assertive. Where as the stanzas in The Voice use language that is slow and that lacked urgency.
The poem seems to have been written very soon after the death of the lover and before the funeral has taken place. “Bring out the coffin” this tells the reader that the funeral has not yet taken place. The poem also suggests that it was written later than the Victorian times, in the 20th century as the poet mentions the use of telephones and aeroplanes “cut off the telephone,” “Let aeroplane circle” This tells us it must have been around the 20th century as they didn’t have aeroplanes and telephones before that time.
This poem has a more modern attitude to death as in Victorian times people would often die young as a result of disease. In Victorian times death was expected. This is different compared to modern times as now death is associated with old age and not sudden unexpected death. Now in modern times if a person dies young it is a great shock. I can empathise with the poet as the death of his lover was sudden so must have been a shock to him.
The title is important as it tells the reader about what the poem is all about it also gives a very basic and simple summary about it. The poem is called “Funeral Blues” because it is about the funeral of his lover. It is also called “funeral blues” because the colour blue is also associated with unhappiness and depression.
The poet starts the poem with the statement “stop the clocks”. In Victorian times when someone in the family died they would stop all the clocks in the house to show the exact time of the death. It is also a mark of respect. The sentence types that Auden uses are imperatives, these sentence types are orders. “Stop all the clocks” “cut off the telephone” “Prevent the dog from barking” “silence the piano” “Bring out the coffin” These sentence’s cause the reader to stop what they are doing to listen to what the poet has to say.
The poet wants to feel isolation by stopping the communication “cut off the telephone” and he doesn’t want any sound around him “silence the pianos” this shows that he wants to be alone in the world to let himself grieve on his own
Auden uses personification by writing “Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead” the word moaning is a human characteristic, the moaning is the sound that the aircraft makes and it is also the sound that humans make when grieving.
The poet wants the message “He Is Dead” scribbled in the sky so that it tells everyone about the tragedy that has happened. Auden uses capitals to make the “He Is Dead” stand out and be read with pauses so that it comes over powerfully.
The poet doesn’t mention any names about who his lover could have been because he is a homosexual and when this poem was written it was against the law to be one. He keeps the name private as a mark of respect to his lover.
The focus has moved from the poet being shocked and wanting the world to stop, in the first stanza, to wanting the world to carry on as usual and tell everyone about the death, in the second stanza. “Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves” this shows that the poet wants life to carry on as usual but he also wants the traffic policemen to wear the gloves to show everyone there was a death as black is associated with death. This tells everyone about the death and is also a mark of respect for the poet’s lover.
In stanza two the author uses only black and white to describe things. The white is a symbol of purity and life and the black is a symbol of death. “Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves” by putting crepe bows on a public doves it is telling everyone that the love he had for his lover is now dead. The white dove is a symbol of purity and new life, by putting crepe bows on their necks it makes the dove seem like a carrier of death. The poet says “Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.” This is unusual for a traffic policeman to do this as they are usually wearing white gloves, by letting them wear black gloves it is a mark of respect. Whilst the traffic policemen are using thier hands to direct cars they are also telling people about the death as they can see that the policemen are wearing a different coloured glove out of respect. The colour black is used as it is a symbol of death as apposed to white which symbolises love and life.
Stanza three focuses mainly on how much the poet’s lover meant to him. All the way through this stanza the word “My” is repeated “He was my North, my South, my East and West” this shows possession of him, like the poet owns his lover. The poet also uses parallelism to show effect. The first three lines in the third stanza are constructed in a similar way.
The punctuation makes the poem slower as it has caesura, this helps with the rhythm and the flow of the poem. “My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;” this is an example of how the punctuation makes the line of verse flow better and makes the poem clearer.
Auden shows his devastation for the death of his lover by comparing everything in the world to the loss of his lover. “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;” This shows that the poets lover meant everything to him, as he compared him to lots of different things in the world showing that he meant everything to the poet.
At the end of stanza three the poet doesn’t seem to have any hope left for the future as he has lost everything that has ever meant anything to him. “I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.” This shows how he has lost hope and has come to terms about his death, his love has also gone.
The third stanza also reveals that their relationship is over. “I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.” This shows that the relationship has now ended because of the death of his lover.
The poet Auden uses contrasting pairs “My working week and my Sunday rest,” “My noon, my midnight,” “my talk, my song;” by using these contrasting pairs this is making the poets lover seem important to the poet, also by using contrasting pairs it makes you think of one extreme to another and also everything in between.
In the fourth stanza the focus changes from the poet’s lover to the poet feeling like his life will be meaningless because of his lovers death. “For nothing now can ever come to any good.” This shows that he has given up hope and cannot see anything worth living for in the future. The poet uses this change in focus as he can now see that his world is empty without him. This part of the poem is set after the funeral of his lover when he is trying to come to terms with the death on his own.
The auther Auden uses the light and darkness in the poem to shows his grief. “Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;” this shows the reader that the author wants to get rid of all the light and good. He just wants to have the black and the sadness left so he can grieve on his own.
The Verbs used in stanza four are all orders. The poet wants these orders to be carried out, “Pack up the moon” “dismantle the sun;” “Pour away the ocean” “sweep up the woods”. These verbs give a sense of power to the poet.
The last line of the poem sums up how the poet felt about his lovers death “For nothing now can ever come to any good.” This shows that he doesn’t want to be on this earth. Auden wants the world to end. The poet feels that the world is a worse place without his lover on it. That is the reason why he wants the world to end as nothing of any good can come from it now he has gone.
In the poem exaggeration is used for effect “Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;” using this hyperbole in the stanza makes you imagine it actually happening. This is impossible but is just used for effect. The fact that he uses hyperbole is just to show how much his lover meant to him.
Auden focuses on the natural environment because it is all around him and is very important to his survival and the survival of everyone.
This poem is made up of four stanzas, each stanza is made up of four lines. In the first three stanzas the first and second lines rhyme and the third and fourth lines rhyme. “Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves” “Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.”. This gives the poem a fast rhythm and allows it to flow easily. However the last stanza doesn’t follow the same rules as the other three as it doesn’t rhyme. The fact that it doesn’t rhyme shows despair from the poet and shows his emotions.
In the third stanza the poet starts to realise the magnitude of his loss, during the first three lines of this stanza the poet describes his lover to everything in the world as if his lover meant everything to him. In the last line he changes his tone as he has realised just what he has lost. “I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.”. By doing this it shows that he expected his lover to live until he died but he didn’t and the poet is hit extremely hard by the loss of his lover.
I think that the poems grief is genuine as he seems to go through the average grieving pattern. He is firstly shocked by the death, then he feels he needs to tell everybody. Then he feels regret and remembers how much he meant to him and after this he feels depression and doesn’t know how he’s going to manage now without him. These are all signs of grieving and I can relate to Auden as when I lost someone in the family I also felt this way.
My first impression of this poem was it seemed to be a happy poem about a funeral. I thought it was a poem that put a happy slant on death. I thought that as it is a fast rhythm and flows easily it seemed happy. It also has a comical part in the poem. “Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,” I thought that this was funny as it puts a new spin of preventing the dog from barking. When I studied the poem in more detail my view had changed as I found this poem was about the very painful process of losing someone you love. It also shows the different stages of grieving people go through. I now think that this is very well written poem and flowed well, it also rhymed well.
I think that the two poems “The Voice” and “Funeral Blues” are very different poems as they both display grief in their poems differently. In “The Voice” Thomas Hardy regrets not being with his lover when she died and the whole way through the poem remembers how she used to be. Thomas Hardy describes how it used to be when she was alive in great detail. “Where you would wait for me: yes, as I knew you then,”. Where as in “Funeral Blues” Auden’s lover is never mentioned in any detail. The poem “Funeral Blues” is more about the funeral of his lover and what he does that leads up to it and after it. The poet try’s to concentrate on how much his lover meant to him and not about his memories of him and the two of them together.
The modern attitude to death now is that you get on with life and forget about it and move on.