‘Stop all the clocks’ – 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 for ever: 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 wood. For nothing now can ever come to any good.
‘Stop all the clocks’ – Auden Theme of the poem? The loss of a person, a lost love (very emotional poem!) Structure of the poem? 16 lines (4 by 4), in 4 quatrains or stanzas First stanza: - strong imperatives: show something very bad has happened! - normal events of daily life are no longer allowed: (clocks ticking, telephones ringing, dogs barking, pianos playing) Second stanza: - 3 other more public happenings must change as well! (they must mourn) - ‘He is Dead’: 1) personal reference to his great lover in capitals because: a big statement in the sky or 2) reference to God (biblical meaning)
‘Stop all the clocks’ – Auden Third stanza: - very personal (my… my… my) - ‘he was my North, my South, my East and West’ (the man is compared to all directions, time schedule, relaxation time) = ‘metaphor’=> line 9-11: the dead man was (the love of) his life! -line 12: maybe the poem is not about death but about love, the end of their relationship?! (= love sickness) Fourth stanza: - imperatives: now much stronger: heavenly bodies must be destroyed - last line: very dramatic, pessimistic meaning: his life is hopeless now because the relationship with that man meant everything to the speaker