“Funeral Blues” was written by the British poet W.H. Auden and first published in 1938. It's a poem about the immensity of grief: the speaker has lost someone important, but the rest of the world doesn’t slow down or stop to pay its respects—it just keeps plugging along on as if nothing has changed. The speaker experiences this indifference as a kind of rude torment, and demands that the world grieve too. Grief, in the poem, is thus presented as something deeply isolating, an emotion that cuts off the people who grieve from the world around them.
Stop all the ...
... the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle ...
... black cotton gloves.
He was my ...
... I was wrong.
The stars are ...
... to any good.
Select any word below to get its definition in the context of the poem. The words are listed in the order in which they appear in the poem.
"Four Weddings and a Funeral" — A scene from the classic 1994 film in which a character recites "Funeral Blues" at his partner's funeral. The film helped secure the poem's place in modern pop culture.
The "Blues" Aloud — Tom O'Bedlam reads the poem out loud.
W.H. Auden's Biography — A detailed biography of W.H. Auden from the Poetry Foundation.
An Introduction to "Funeral Blues" — A detailed history of the poem from the British Library.
Funeral Blues — Benjamin Britten's musical setting of "Funeral Blues."
1Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
2Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
3Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
4Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
5Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
6Scribbling on the sky the message ‘He is Dead’.
7Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
8Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
9He was my North, my South, my East and West,
10My working week and my Sunday rest,
11My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
12I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.
13The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
14Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
15Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
16For nothing now can ever come to any good.