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“Funeral Blues”- W.

H Auden
SUMMARY
Auden wants everything normal to stop while the funeral of his friend is taking place.At first,
he orders complete silence. He doesn’tSUMMARY
want to hear any sounds of daily life. As a mark of
respect to his dead friend, he desires funeral drums to beat with a low sound. Auden calls for
aeroplanes to circle overhead to mark the death of his friend. The planes would fly in
formation with a message for all to see.Auden would like white doves with black bows to be
released in honour of his friend.His grief is so great that he would like the traffic police to wear
black gloves instead of the normal white gloves they use to direct traffic.The third stanza
contains an outpouring of emotions.Auden states his friend meant everything to him. Auden
felt inseparable from his friend. Auden believed he would always have his friend, but he was
wrong.In the fourth stanza Auden wants to cancel or abolish certain things because of his
grief.He wants to destroy the universe: the stars, moon and sun.Auden wants to get rid of the
oceans and forests of the earth.There is no point in living without his friend. The world cannot
continue.
TONE:The tone is one of deep sadness, unbearable pain of loss, helpless sorrow and absolute despair.

POETIC TECHNIQUE
Metaphor

LINE
“He was my North, my
south, my east, my west”
“Pack up the moon and
dismantle the sun”

EFFECT
The poet is expressing
absolute despair at the loss
if his friend. These
metaphors exemplify how
dear this person was to the
poet and the utter grief

Personification

“Let aeroplanes circle
moaning overhead”

The aeroplane will make a
mourning sound moaning is
grief overhead

Hyperbole

“Pour away the ocean and
sweep up the wood”

Auden communicates deep
love. In stanza four Auden
uses impossible actions to
get across his terrible
sadness.

Consonance (repeated
consonant sounds)

“dismantle” “moon” “sun”
“ocean”

Note the amount of words
with a ‘n’ sound or that end
in ‘n’ in the last stanza.
This creates a mourning
music.

Alliteration

“muffled” “mourners”
“moaning” “message”

Note the frequent use of
words beginning with ‘m’ to
emphasise moaning and
mourning.

Assonance (similar vowel
sound repetition)

“mourners” “moaning”
“moon”

Note the frequent ‘oo’ and
‘ou’ sounds in various
words of the poem. These
sounds create the effect of
a crying voice.

THEMES
Grief and loss, dealing with unexpected
death, intense love, impact of loss/death
on loved ones, inability to continue life as
normal after loss

WORDBANK
lament imperative voice sombre
mundane disillusionment mournful
reminisce
companion

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