Monday, 7 January 2013

Poetry Reads: Funeral Blues by WH Auden


Funeral Blues by WH Auden was immensely made famous after the Hugh Grant film, Four Weddings and a Funeral.  It is a poem of mourning on the death of a lover. There appears the agony of carrying on, ‘For nothing now can ever come to any good’. The first two stanzas were initially written by Auden on the death of a political leader; it is suggestive of the scorn and satire in –

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.

However it took a whole new interpretation later of love, anguish and passion –

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.

What grips the reader of this poem is the use of elegant language and imagery. Although life goes on after the death, the futility of living is well-etched here –

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.

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(Review by Kabita Sonowal)

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