Funeral Blues

I first became acquainted with this poem while watching the film “Four Weddings and a Funeral”.

If you saw the movie (and few did not, it seems), you may recall the scene where this poem was read (during the funeral of Gareth, played by Simon Callow, the cheerful, adventurous lover of life who is felled by a sudden heart attack at one of the weddings). The poem is read by his domestic partner Matthew (played by John Hannah) in a haunting Scottish lilt which makes the poem even more sad and beautiful:

Funeral Blues (Part 1)
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 crepe bows round the white necks of 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



Filed under Art, Poetry

10 responses to “Funeral Blues

  1. I’ve always loved that poem, and loved that scene as well! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Another of my favourites.

  3. WOW. Thank you so much – I love that poem and the scene (the whole movie, actually) and never got who it was who wrote that…and wanted to know.

  4. I’m glad you all enjoyed this poem as much as I did. It’s a real heartstring-puller.

  5. It’s nice to see all the words. I love Hannah’s accent, but some of them were hard to understand.

    I really like this simple and elegant poem.

  6. Wow, it’s been so long since I’ve seen the movie though, I almost forgot about this part. What a great poem.

  7. Candace

    I cannot think of “Four Weddings…” without remembering that poem, and just your first sentence had me beginning to cry…

    Thank you for giving me the words, it has always been a poem, spoken so beautifully, that has resonated through my heart and life experiences!

  8. Auden’s poetry is often incredibly sad but epic in its scope, addressing the universality of certain types of suffering such as grief. I love this poem, always have, and its use in that film was very good especially when you consider that Auden was, himself, man2man inclined. x

  9. Carl

    I just watched the movie Four Weddings… and I just couldn´t stop me from crying….. Now I´ve read it many many times and when I get to “He was my North….. I just get so sad. I just cry….

    Well the poem is the THE POEM!

    Thanks for sharing.

  10. This poem is so melancholy. I usually don’t like poetry but this one just stuck in my mind because it is so universal and so sincere. It perfectly captures the mood of grieving. Thanks for stopping by!

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