W. H. Auden: Funeral Blues (876 words)


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“Funeral Blues” (1938), also known by its first line, “Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone”, is a song of 16 lines by W. H. Auden, published under this title in 1940, although it is adapted from an earlier dramatic song of Auden’s from his and Christopher Isherwood’s play The Ascent of F6 (published 1936, performed 1937). Loosely reminiscent of contemporary American blues lyrics in its simple couplet rhymes, it is a parodically exaggerated dirge for one recently dead, calling for the whole world to come to a stop because the speaker’s beloved has died.

The slightly longer 20-line 1936 song from which this one derives was never published separately, but forms part of the …

Citation: Baldick, Chris. "Funeral Blues". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 October 2017 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=38784, accessed 22 April 2021.]

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