(Image: Salvador Dali)

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 crêpe bows round the white necks of the public
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

To take this poem as one insular moment in time and leave alone Auden’s legacy is difficult, but the poem above is a favourite of mine, so talking of it unaccompanied is what I shall do.

A piece so beautifully rhythmic and melancholy, it breathes sorrow and mourning in words alone. The element of emotion is attached to nature which Auden strives to portray in many of his works. We are enveloped by Nature, and it is injected into the writing so to feel a familiarity and a sense of being one whole with the world in which we live.

You could go as far as discussing ‘the circle of life’ idea; that to die is to come full circle and become the earth beneath our feet and the air that we breath. So that in death, we are absorbed back into the elements of the earth and that, may be why Auden speaks of nature so insistently.  

The poem above talks of the senses almost covertly by relating feelings to nature “Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.” This non intrusive method is a beautiful craft that represents connotative innuendos delicately and with sweet language.

Made popular through the film Four Weddings and a Funeral, it captures the moment of sorrow in the film and classically portrays mourning reactions. The poem, despite its beauty acts as a self destructive release from this moment of sadness. It is almost a piece of resistance and conflict, condemning the world and asking for it to be folded away and destroyed as this is how it feels to mourn for someone you love.