30 October 2018
[Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone]
In W.H Auden’s poem “Stop all the clocks, turn off the telephone”, also called “Funeral Blues”, he uses symbolism and hyperbole to assist in the portrayal of grief for the loss of a loved one. “Funeral Blues” originally appeared as a song in the play “The Ascent of F6” in 1936. In the play, the last two stanzas were not included and three others followed instead. When it was published in 1937 titled “Funeral Blues”, it had been rewritten as a cabaret song. It was also published as a poem in Auden’s sequence “Twelve Songs”, title IX. This poem went through many transformations before it took its final shape.
Auden’s use of symbolism helps to create a mood and setting of despair and death, as well as the pain of loss. He establishes the speaker's sorrow and hopelessness using analytic meanings of symbolism and hyperboles. In the first stanza, the speaker orders to “Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone”. According to an old formal custom, it was once thought that it is bad luck for a clock to be running with a dead person present. On the other hand, this could mean that he wants everyone to stop doing whatever they are doing and mourn the way he is. He wants everyone to feel the pain he is feeling. Line 2, “Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone”, also comes from a belief that if a dog barked in the background of a funeral, more people would die. The “Muffled drum” is still a traditional custom at military funerals.
In the second stanza, Auden uses hyperbole to show that he wants the world to know. “Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead, Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead.” , although this statement seems like an exaggeration, I think it is meant to show the reader that the speaker wants it to be known that he lost his lover. In the third stanza, Auden uses cardinal directions to describe what his lost lover meant to him, “He was my North, my South, my East, and West”. He also uses the time to describe ...