“Funeral Blues”-A poem by W.H.Auden

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 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 woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.


Auden’s tongue is firmly in his cheeks. It looks like he is mourning a politician’s death and inasmuch as politicians are VIP s ,there is public mourning of their deaths. We can have overhead planes sky-writing “He is dead”. We can have traffic cops wearing black cotton gloves .We can arrange for the public doves to wear crepe bows in their necks.

But surely we cannot have public doves. Doves cannot be expected to wear bows in their white necks for our VIP deaths. But why not. We can still have a few public doves for our VIP deaths, the very doves our VIP politicians release for peace for our ceremonies of innocence. Some doves are public but most are private.

But let us stop time. Come on, we can’t do that. We can of course stop all clocks. All clocks? At least the clocks around. On other clocks of the world we cannot do much. We can also cut off telephone wires so that all communication with the outside world is stopped.

How do we silence the dog barking your pantleg? Just give him a particularly juicy bone to chew on.

In the meantime let the planes hang around in the sky to skywrite a message – “he is dead” with their tailsmoke. Why such a cryptic message? Doesnt it sound a little too skylarky, such a cryptic message?

Public grief vs. Private grief

Now the public doves are in mourning. Public planes are writing cryptic messages in sky. Public clocks are stopped,public phone wires cut.

Private dogs have stopped barking, bribed by a juicy bone. What about private grief of the narrator?

The dead man was his North, East and West and South (NEWS). He was his working week,his holiday ,his Sunday.His talk, his song. He thought love would last for ever. He was wrong. Love did not last for ever.

We may have not have achieved much success with private doves, with dogs at pantlegs without bribing them a juicy bone and with all clocks and all calendars. Now we order that all stars be promptly put out. Of what use is the stars, now that our man is dead and gone. Let the moon be packed up and put away in the attic.Let the sun be dismantled. Let the sea be poured away somewhere in the outer space. Let the woods be swept away and they are of no use. Nothing now comes to any good.

Funeral blues are such. Private deaths turn public like doves turn public. Stars are sky’s eyes that have to be put out because they are no longer required in the firmament now that our man is dead. Private grief turns public. Let the coffin be brought out. Was that grief or somebody pulling your pantlegs? There is no irony where there is plain fun making.We all hate politicians but do not celbrate their deaths. Here a funeral grief is just “blues”, exaggerated quantification of how much we love the deceased.

The irony arises in the much larger picture of how much of our grief is so banal, so matter-of-factly expressed. Death is such a routine thing-expressed as a pathetic fallacy in which nature is coerced to act as mourner. The larger irony arises out of the stupidity of equating private loss to a cosmic event.

A dog after love: A cocky poem about love

A dog after love
A cocky poem about love
by Yehuda Amichai

“After you left me
I had a bloodhound sniff at
my chest and my belly. Let it fill its nostrils
and set out to find you.

I hope it will find you and rip
your lover’s balls to shreds and bite off his cock–
or at least
bring me one of your stockings between its teeth”

After she left , he would have a bloodhound sniff his chest and belly. That is where her smell lingers. The sniffer dog will find her from the smell. Surely her new lover,who may be with her, carries her smell too . The bloodhound will then rip his balls and bite off his cock. Because that is where her smell resides. Sweet revenge.

In case the dog fails to do that, he will at least bring one of her stockings. It is still sweet revenge . With only one stocking how will she roam around with her new lover?

In case the dog bites off his cock, she may have to come back to her old lover! How desirable !

What do you think is the tone of the poem? It is certainly not a love poem . Nobody tells a lover who abandons him for another that he is setting a sniffer dog after love. Where is the tongue and is it in the big cheek? Of course the dog goes after love, just like a police dog does. For the smell he has only to sniff at the master’s chest and belly.

But the master only hopes the dog will find her , based upon a comparison of her scent as captured from his chest and belly. He only hopes that the smell still persists after she left . Whatever is left may not be sufficient for the dog to find her. The dog may not have enough smell left to fill its nostrils. But does the master really care? If the dog finds her and her lover it may rip the lover’s balls or bite off his cock.

If not, the dog will return with a stocking of the beloved.What does this prove? Probably that the lover does not exist or that the lover does not smell of the beloved , where such smell is supposed to linger after her infidelity with the second lover.

What I find interesting is the gentle playfulness about the theme of love. Does love really matter? If your love leaves you all you do is set a dog after it. Do not go searching for her. Do not go mushy about love on lonely moon lit nights.The smell of love hardly persists for the dog to go after. But jealousy is the trapping of love. If there is a lover his balls have to be ripped, his cock wrenched off. But that is all part of the game and no hard feelings. You really mean hard -on feelings.

What does one want from love, now that the beloved has left for another? A souvenir from dead love, like one stocking from her feet. If the dog finds no lover whose balls have to be ripped or cock wrenched off, let him bring one stocking from her between his teeth. At least. What will one do with one stocking? Is it to just moon over it like a medieval lover? For all we know it may be to put her feet out of stocking for a while. A sweet revenge.