• Home   /  
  • Archive by category "1"

Funeral Blues Critical Essay

Critical Appreciation of Auden's Funeral Blues

  • Length: 387 words (1.1 double-spaced pages)
  • Rating: Excellent
Open Document

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - More ↓
Although it is not seen at first, Funeral blues can be portrayed and understood in many different ways.
Auden could be writing about the death of a public figure, as he writes about 'white necks of the public doves' and the 'traffic policemen'.
Another interpretation is that Auden wrote this poem about his loss of faith in God. This would explain the use of a capital H is ?He Is Dead?. A reference to God could also be found in the line 'my Sunday rest' (Sunday being the Sabbath day).

Although these ideas could be equally argued, I still believe that Auden wrote this poem while mourning the loss of his lover. It carries a sad and heartbreaking tone that puts Auden as the speaker. Being a homosexual would explain why the subject of his poem is a man.

The title of the poem includes the word ?funeral?, immediately indicating death or loss. In the first stanza Auden makes use of works like stop, cut, prevent and silence ? these words all signify ending.
?Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephones?, this describes how Auden wanted to be excluded from the world while he was mourning his loss.

?Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead / Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead?. Auden uses personification in these first two lines of the second stanza by giving the aeroplanes human characteristics to inform everyone that ?He Is Dead?. This man meant so much to Auden that he wanted his death to be recognized and written in the sky for all to see.

In the third stanza, Auden writes: 'He was my North, my South, my East and West'. This man was everything to Auden, he was Auden's world. It is written in the third stanza: ?I thought love would last for ever: I was wrong?. This demonstrates that even though love is meant to last forever, it can only be carried to the grave and no farther.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Critical Appreciation of Auden's Funeral Blues." 123HelpMe.com. 14 Mar 2018

LengthColor Rating 
Essay about Funeral Blues by W.H. Auden - W.H. Auden wrote the poem, “Funeral Blues”. Wystan Hugh Auden (1907-1973) was born in York, England, and later became and American citizen. Auden was the founder for a generation of English poets, such as C. Day Lewis, and Stephen Spender. Auden’s earlier works were composed of a Marxist outlook with a knowledge of Freudian Psychology. Later works consisted of professing Christianity, and what he considered “increasing conservatism”. In 1946 Auden emigrated and became an American citizen. While in America he composed many verse plays, travel memoirs, and Opera lyrics....   [tags: Funeral Blues W.H. Auden]779 words
(2.2 pages)
Better Essays[preview]
A Deeper Look into Auden’s Poetry Essay - In two of Auden’s major works he uses the idea of absent-mindedness to express how humans can be self-centered, and tend to have a blind eye towards other peoples’ issues rather than their own. In “Musée des Beaux Arts”, Auden uses a painting by Pieter Brueghel called, Landscape with the Fall of Icarus as a setting for his poem, and uses the characters in the painting as proof that people can be very self-absorbed and unaware. Auden also portrays this same idea in his poem “Funeral Blues”, in which he expresses the feelings of losing a loved one of extreme importance....   [tags: funeral, self-centered, witness]859 words
(2.5 pages)
Better Essays[preview]
The Mood in Funeral Blues by W.H. Auden Essay - The Mood in Funeral Blues by W.H. Auden The poem, "Funeral Blues", by W.H. Auden tells about a person's grief and is successful in creating a very sad and depressing mood. This is achieved by the poet's use of language, word choice and sentence structure. The way in which the author describes his feeling - along with the use of rhythm and rhyme - was created in a very effective way which made it clear to the reader. In the first stanza the depressing mood is created straight away by the poet's use of commands, which created the impression that he wanted the whole world to come to a stand still: "Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, Prevent the dog fr...   [tags: Poetry Analysis]1008 words
(2.9 pages)
Good Essays[preview]
Margin of Appreciation in ECHR Essay - Importantly, the crux of this question mainly lies on a critical analysis on Harris’s statement on the application margin of appreciation under Art.2. and Art. 8 of European Convention on Human Rights (hereinafter referred to as ‘ECHR’). In examining Harris’s statement , it simply denotes that the application of the convention may often be varied because of the absence of consensus probably due to cultural relativism or pluralism. It has been propounded that human rights is universal , but it is inevitable for each country to adopt different practices and perception....   [tags: Critical Analysis, Human Rights]
:: 5 Works Cited
2445 words
(7 pages)
Term Papers[preview]
Essay about Critical Appreciation of Robert Browning Poems - Critical Appreciation of Robert Browning Poems Robert Browning was one of the great poets of the Victorian age. He was on born 7th May 1812 in Camberwell and he died on the 2nd December 1889. Robert Browning got secretly married to Elizabeth Barrett in 1846 and went on to live in Italy. Browning became an admirer of Elizabeth's Barrett’s poetry in 1844. He began corresponding with her by letter. This was the start of one of the world's most famous romances. Their courtship lasted until 1846 when they were married....   [tags: Papers]1306 words
(3.7 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Analysis of Auden's The Age of Anxiety Essay - Analysis of Auden's The Age of Anxiety   In Auden's lengthy poem, "The Age of Anxiety", he follows the actions and thoughts of four characters who happen to meet in a bar during a war.  Their interactions with one another lead them on an imaginary quest in their minds in which they attempt, without success, to discover themselves.  The themes and ideas that Auden's "The Age of Anxiety" conveys reflect his belief that man's quest for self-actualization is in vain.           W. H. Auden was born in York, England, in 1907, the third and youngest son of Constance and George Auden (Magill 72).  His poetry in the 1930's reflected the world of his era, a world of depression, Fascism, and...   [tags: Auden The Age of Anxiety Essays]
:: 8 Works Cited
2641 words
(7.5 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Essay on The Unknown CItizen by W.H. Auden - “The Unknown Citizen”      “The Unknown Citizen” by W.H. Auden, is a commentary on government and the materialism of modern man. The poem is written in the form of an obituary inscribed on a monument built by the government in commemoration of an average, upstanding, and decent community member. Throughout the passage, the speaker lists facts about the citizen’s life which he believes prove that the deceased was a valuable person. In actuality these facts represent nothing more than the socially accepted values and actions instilled in society by materialistic views....   [tags: W.H. Auden The Unknown CItizen]727 words
(2.1 pages)
Better Essays[preview]
Essay on The Unknown Citizen by W.H. Auden - The Unknown Citizen by W.H. Auden The Poem “The Unknown Citizen” by W.H. Auden is a satire. Its narrator is the state. In this, the state pays tribute and describes a successful and positive product of its efficiency and effectiveness. In other words, it builds the character later described to the reader as “the perfect citizen.” The narrator speaks as if he is delivering a speech or common tribute using words and phrases that are familiar to the reader. Using such imagery helps the reader paint a clear picture of the character....   [tags: Unknown Citizen Auden Essays]819 words
(2.3 pages)
Better Essays[preview]
W.H. Auden's Poems and Homosexuality Essay - W.H. Auden's Poems and Homosexuality W. H. Auden published “This lunar beauty” in 1930; he published “Now through night’s caressing grip” in 1935, and he published “Lay your sleeping head, my love” in 1937 (Auden 16; 41; 51). “[I]t has been argued that the first part of the twentieth century’s culture is dominated by attempts to keep homosexuality hidden, … [and a] number of homosexual writers in the period maintain public silence about their sex lives, and dramatize homosexual themes indirectly, if at all” (Caserio)....   [tags: Auden Gay Homosexual Poetry Essays]
:: 11 Works Cited
2819 words
(8.1 pages)
Term Papers[preview]
Big Mama's Funeral Essay - Big Mama's Funeral Gabriel García Márquez story, Big Mama's Funeral, is a story filled with fantastical scenes and events much in line with Don Quixote and Candide. The introductory paragraphs of Big Mama's Funeral and Candide sound so similar in voice the two authors could be mistaken for the same. In Candide, one finds a series of episodes that are so far from the truth and yet perfectly explainable. The story of the fate of Dr. Pangloss, the death and resurrection of Cunegund and of her Jesuit brother, and the story of the old woman with one buttock are farcical in the same way as the episodes in Big Mama's Funeral....   [tags: Mama Funeral]335 words
(1 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]

Related Searches

Funeral Blues         Auden         Critical Appreciation         Huge Impact         Stanza         Clocks         Homosexual        

Whatever the true meaning of the poem, it was about someone who meant a lot to Auden and made a huge impact on him when they were gone. I believe my interpretation to be that of many, and although analysing poetry comes with diverse ideas, Auden wrote this poem to express something he felt strongly about, that is what truly matters.

The poet calls for the clocks to be stopped, the telephone to be cut off, and the dog and pianos silenced. The coffin will be brought out to the mourners with a muffled drum and under the moan of airplanes that spell out the message, “He Is Dead.” Doves are to be decked with bows around their necks, and the traffic policemen are to wear black cotton gloves.

The poet thinks of the deceased as “my North, my South, my East and West,” his work and his rest, his noon and his midnight, his talk and his song. He incorrectly thought their love would last forever.

The stars, moon, sun, ocean, and forests, the poet writes, should be sent away; they are no longer needed, and “nothing now can ever come to any good.”


“Funeral Blues” has an interesting composition history. It originally appeared as a song in a play Auden cowrote with Christopher Isherwood called The Ascent of F6. In this form the last two stanzas were not included, and three others followed instead. The characters in the play were specifically invoked, and the play was an ironic statement on how “great men” are lionized after their deaths. The poem was then included in Auden’s poetry collection of 1936 (sometimes under the book title Look, Stranger!, which Auden hated). The poem was titled “Funeral Blues” by 1937, when it was published in Collected Poems. Here it had been rewritten as a cabaret song to fit with the kind of burlesque reviews popular in Berlin, and it was intended for Hedli Anderson in a piece by Benjamin Britten. It is also sometimes referred to as “Funeral Blues (Stop All the Clocks)” due to its famous first line. It is perhaps most famous for its delivery by a character in the English comedy/drama Four Weddings and a Funeral, in which a character mourns his dead lover.

The poem in the format readers usually see it today is a dirge, or a lament for the dead. Its tone is much more somber than early iterations, and the themes more universal, although it speaks of an individual. It has four stanzas of four lines each with lines in varying numbers of syllables but containing about four beats each. Auden plays with the form a bit in the poem, and critics debate whether or not this was a manifestation of his tendency to do just that—whether he was simply playing around or intended a larger point.

As with many of his poems, there is a mingling of the high and the low. This is in the style of a classical elegy, though it features informal language and objects of everyday life such as a telephone. This mingling, writes one scholar, “is a powerful modernist move, one which suggests that only by embracing the modern world can art come to terms with the complexities of human experience.”

The poem appears from the perspective of a man (seemingly the poet himself) deeply mourning the loss of a lover who has died. He begins by calling for silence from the everyday objects of life—the telephone and the clocks—and the pianos, drums, and animals nearby. He doesn’t just want quiet, however; he wants his loss writ large. He wants the life of his lover—seemingly a normal, average man—to be proclaimed to the world as noble and valuable. He wants airplanes to write the message “He Is Dead” in the sky, crepe bows around doves, and traffic policemen wearing black gloves. What seems unbearable to him is the thought that this man’s passing from life to death will be unmarked by anyone other than the poet.

In the third stanza the poet reminisces about how much the man who died meant to him. It is a beautifully evocative section that illustrates the bond between the two; note the theme of completeness in the language, which covers all four primary compass directions and all seven days of the week. Similarly, “noon” and “midnight” together cover, by synecdoche (parts standing for the whole), all hours of the day. The stanza, at the same time, reveals the tragedy of human life, which is that everyone must die and that almost everyone will experience being severed from a loved one; love does not, after all, last forever in this world.

In the fourth stanza the poet’s anguish rings out even more fervently. Here he demands that Nature heed his grief, calling her to extinguish the stars and the moon and the sun and get rid of the ocean. He wants the world to reflect the emptiness within him. Human memorials to the dead will not be sufficient. There is no hope at the end of the poem; the reader is left with the very real and very bitter sense of the man’s grief, since no end can be achieved without the poet’s lover.

One thought on “Funeral Blues Critical Essay

Leave a comment

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *