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What is the "Funeral Blues" poem by W. H. Auden about?

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Quick Answer

The poem "Funeral Blues" by W.H. Auden is about the devastating loss of a loved one. In this short poem, Auden poignantly captures how it feels to grieve.

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In the first two stanzas, Auden wants everyday life to stop, including the clocks, and acknowledge this death. The third stanza reflects the depth of his loss with the line, "He was my North, my South, my East, and West," and the poem's final stanza pleads for the stars, moon, sun, oceans and woods to be put away because, "Nothing now can ever come to any good." The mourner's despair wants to block out everything.

Auden first wrote "Funeral Blues" in 1936 as part of the play "The Ascent of F6," which he wrote with Christopher Isherwood. In the play, the poem is used satirically to poke fun at a dead politician. In 1938, Auden reworked the poem into a cabaret song, which was no longer satirical, with Benjamin Britten writing the music. Auden didn't publish the poem until 1940, when he included it in his collection "Another Time." Its use in the 1994 movie "Four Weddings and a Funeral" increased the poem's and Auden's popularity. Wystan Hugh Auden was born in York, England, in 1907. His early influences included the poetry of Thomas Hardy and Robert Frost.

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