Funeral Blues

One of the best descriptions of grief I have ever read is Funeral Blues by W. H. Auden. If you’ve seen the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral, you are familiar with Auden’s words, but for those who have never seen the poem, I am posting it here (and hoping I am not infringing on Auden’s copyright). Feel free to join my weepfest by sharing your favorite poem of loss or grief.

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 every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

11 Responses to “Funeral Blues”

  1. knightofswords Says:

    I have always liked this poem for the way it just punches out the words, the images and the grief.


  2. ~Sia McKye~ Says:

    Pat, boy it sure conveys how a person feels when they’ve lost someone dear. You can’t see the good at that moment, all you see is pain, loss, and grief.

    Hang in there, sweetie! Sending hugs and peaceful thoughts your way.

  3. Rachael Says:

    Pat, there are no words to express how you must be feeling. If you need anything, please let us know. I hope that you can find small comforts in the days ahead.

    It takes us back to brighter years,
    to happier sunlit days
    and to precious moments
    that will be with us always.
    And these fond recollections
    are treasured in the heart
    to bring us always close to those
    from whom we had to part.
    There is a bridge of memories
    from earth to Heaven above…
    It keeps our dear ones near us
    It’s the bridge that we call love.
    ~~Author Unknown

  4. Carol J. Garvin Says:

    Pat, we aren’t well enough acquainted for me to know what has prompted this post… judging from the other comments I suspect a personal loss. If that’s it, then I send you my heartfelt condolences and prayers for strength during what must be a very difficult time. I’ll return sometime soon when I’ve found the poem I want to share.


  5. joylene Says:

    When we lost our son Jack, 23, someone gave us this poem.

    I’ll Lend You A Child
    by Edgar Guest

    “I’ll lend you for a little time a child of mine,” He said.
    For you to love – while he lives
    And mourn for when he’s dead.

    It may be six or seven years
    Or twenty-two or three,
    But will you, till I call him back,
    Take care or him for Me?

    He’ll bring his smiles to gladden you,
    And should this stay be brief
    You’ll have his lovely memories as solace for your grief.

    I cannot promise he will stay,
    Since all from earth return,
    But there are lessons taught down there
    I want this child to learn.

    I’ve looked this world over
    In search for teachers true,
    And from the throngs that crowd
    Life’s lanes, I have selected you.

    Now will you give him all your love,
    Nor count the labor vain,
    Nor hate Me when I come to call to
    Take him back again?”

    I fancied that I heard then say,
    “Dear Lord, Thy will be done,
    For all the joy Thy child shall bring,

    The risk of grief we’ll run.
    We’ll shelter him with tenderness,
    We’ll love him while we may,
    And for the happiness we’ve known
    Forever grateful stay.

    But should the angels call for him
    Much sooner than we’ve planned,
    We’ll brave the bitter grief that come
    And try to understand.”

  6. Carol J. Garvin Says:

    I’m back, Pat, and here’s the poem I wanted to share. It comes from a small book by Christine Frye, “Through the Darkness: the psalms of a survivor.”

    Lord, I am but a small bruised flower;
    frosts have nipped at me;
    winds and rains have buffeted me;
    storms of life have swirled about me.
    I am bent and almost flattened.

    But the sun is warm, Lord,
    your sun that shines through those who care.
    It caresses my bruised petals;
    it draws me up straight, to respond to it;
    it fills my frail stem with new strength.

    Your love is sunshine to my life, Lord.
    Your sunshine provides the miracle of healing
    for bruised bodies, minds and spirits.

    Thank you, Lord,
    for you have helped this flower to flourish.
    ~ ~ ~

    Like Joylene, I’m someone who has been there… a survivor, too.


  7. Pat Bertram Says:

    Thank you for the poems. The man I shared my life with for the past 34 years died of kidney cancer on Saturday, and I am still trying to process his terrible death.

  8. Donna B. Russell Says:

    Dear Pat,

    I am so deeply sorry for your loss. There is never enough time to be with those we love, those who are a part of our very being, who fill our empty spaces, and make us feel special because they love us. I hope that, in time, the years of good memories together will ease the sorrow. And I hope, too, that you will draw strength from knowing that love never dies.

    Gentle hugs,

  9. Grief Update: Four Years and Four Months | Bertram's Blog Says:

    […] he was real — he was the most real person I ever met — and yet, though he used to be “my North, my South, my East and West, / My working week and my Sunday rest, / My noon, my midnigh…,” he no longer has any substantial reality in my life. I talked to him when I was out walking in […]

  10. Deb Says:

    Hello Pat, thank you for sharing your thoughts and journey it has been such a great help to me. My best friend died 3 months ago in an accident. Dylan Thomas’s words seep from my bones.

    Dylan Thomas, 1914 – 1953

    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
    Because their words had forked no lightning they
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
    And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
    Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    And you, my father, there on the sad height,
    Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
    Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    My friend and I discussed this poem in depth, a few months before he died. Little did I know I would feel exactly what D Thomas was writing about. Thank you again Pat for blogging about your grief.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I am so very sorry about your friend. Writing about grief helped me through that awful dying of the light. It’s good to know that those words now bring comfort to others as they deal with their darkest hours.

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