Funeral Blues 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 everyone,
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.
At many of the funerals I take, people use poetry to express something of how they feel
about their loved one and about their hope to be reunited with that person
– that death is nothing at all – that death is not the end.
Few choose a poem which expresses something of their deep grief, loss and pain.
I was struck by how honest and vulnerable a choice the following poem was
when I heard it for the first time at a recent funeral.
It reminded me of Jesus’ raw grief at expressed at Lazarus’ death
and encourages me to be more willing to express all my emotions – particularly in wilderness times.