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 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.
– W.H. Auden, “Funeral Blues”
Chaucer was wrong about April being the cruelest. May is.
My friend and officemate, Carol, has just lost her father. I lost my dad in May 2009, and tomorrow would be dad’s 61st birthday.
You eventually unpack the sun, bring back the stars, and everything else. But Auden captures the awful ache of grief’s first gut wrenching bite.