Hi. You're at my blog where we mess with poetry. It's about what I know - life at sea, family, work, the searching, people and the sometimes quirky side to existance. Also study of those who have influenced me - Australians - Slessor, Bruce Dawe, Robert Gray, Lehman, and others - Robert Service, John Masefield, Elizabeth Bishop, Auden, Kipling, William Carlos Williams, Bukowski. Hey, so welcome and just drift.
Wednesday, 3 April 2013
W. H. Auden - expressing grief.
W. H. Auden
bloggers – whoever’s out there; I’m back, and it’s been a hell of a time away,
and I feel I’ve been away for longer than intended.First I took a two week holiday break to Cambodia – got
some good notes for material I can work up while it’s still fresh in my
memory.I also relaxed away enough time lazing
beside hotel pools to almost finish reading a biography novel on one of our contemporary
Australian poets, Les Murray, so I’m up on how he got to where he is, and it
gives me a new perspective on poems of his that I love.I will post them later.
flying back into Sydney on an orange dawn, back into what I think is normalcy,
Monday morning, unravelling myself from head-phone cords, breakfast tray
plastic, pillow, magazine paper litter stuffed into the seat pocket – and not
knowing that Ernie (my step-father) had died in hospital just hours before we were
due to land – probably at that time, I keep thinking, when cabin lights were
dimmest, crew having disappeared for the night; and I’m surprised to find ‘The Life of Pi’ a very satisfying
my mind is clamouring for all the poetries of grief – the Psalms, oh if I could
remember the Psalms, ‘yeah though I walk
through the valley of death …..’;Dylan Thomas, ‘do not go gentle
into that good night …….’.But for
rest and reflection in a fair dinkum, down to earth expression I had to turn to
Wystan Hugh Auden’s, ‘Funeral Blues’.This is one of my favourite poems.To me it speaks in a language of earthiness
and simplicity, not flowery prose that can sometimes come out contrived in celebrant
will have to do your own research on who Auden was referring to when he wrote
this poem (written around 1936, 1938).Auden was a great English poet who left England
at the start of WWII to live in America
(controversy about him being a traitor, deserter, communist).He was one of a number of poets of his time
who established homosexual expression through their poetry.Some say ‘Funeral
Blues’ is addressed to a lover.
‘Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone’
(W. H. Auden, 1907 - 1973)
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.
upon everybody quickly – the dead, and those left to mourn.It’s times like these that you stand as a
writer, you can support as a writer, you try to express as a writer.Sure, you can’t create on cue a brilliant
poem like, ‘stop all the clocks’, but
you’re more capable to summarise memory and grief for yourself and others.My influence from poets like Auden
is in, ‘Eulogy to Ernie’.
2013.Sunday, 17th March, 2013; cramped
and uncomfortable on Vietnam
Airways.And while we’re being thrust
through the stratosphere by jet pod turbine blades, fuselage insert plastic
flexing, cabin quiet; while all the organisation and research of the world
keeps a plane in the air, Ernie is dying.