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 crépe 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 forever: 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’s Funeral Blues focuses on loss, and the all encompassing feeling when you lose someone you love. Auden writes of the feelings of despair after losing someone, how nothing seems worthwhile anymore, “Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood./For nothing now can ever come to any good.”
For the speaker, the person who’s died was their world – “He was my North, my South, my East, my West,/My working week and my Sunday rest.”
Auden also writes of the realization that love isn’t eternal, “I thought hat love would last forever: I was wrong.”
Like Auden, Bradbury writes of the hopelessness felt by someone who has felt loss. She writes how day to day tasks now seem hard – “how do you find the strength to put one foot in front of the other”.
Bradbury also criticises the way modern society almost trivalises death “News readers read of fighting and such/they glibly speak over the pictures of war/I scream in my head that its someone’s mother/father, sister, baby or brother.”
She hopes for a peaceful world, without war “when living in harmony is seconds way/they just need to sit and draw lines in the sand/respecting each other and then close their hands/in prayer on a deal to live side by side”:
Loss seeps into your soul and hides there waiting
loss seeps into your heart and gnaws there bleeding
how can you bear the loss of the departed with such equanimity
how do you find the strength to put one foot in front of the other
where does the body hide the pain
who cares one fig for those who lie slain?
News readers read of fighting and such
they glibly speak over the pictures of war
I scream in my head that its someone’s mother
father, sister, baby or brother
I know they can’t break down for fear of their jobs
but someone, somehow must relentlessly show it
the emotion, the futile, the meaningless guts
spilled with ancient lusts for a small piece of land
when living in harmony is seconds away
they just need to sit and draw lines in the sand
respecting each other and then close their hands
in prayer on a deal to live side by side
then roll with it, live with it, watch sunset and tides
flowing around them like rocks in a stream
then war will be passed by as if in a dream
that’s how Hollywood has it, its easy for them
just roll the tape and we’ll shoot that again.