Stop All The Clocks Analysis

1023 Words 4 Pages
The Sting of Love and Death

in W.H. Auden’s “Stop All the Clocks”

In many cases, death brings a profound sense of sadness and loss. In the poem “Stop All the Clocks” W.H. Auden, the author (and presumed speaker), recounts the funeral of a lover and the great sorrow his death causes. He expresses pain in elegiac couplet form, employing simple metric rhythm and perfect rhyme to create a structure that gives this terse poem a clean and distinct beginning, middle and end (as evidenced by the full stops in thought, or separation of stanzas by closed punctuation). In addition to the compact structure, the idea of changing time is central to “Stop All the Clocks”, with Auden’s lament shifting between a hypothetical present, a ruminative past, and
…show more content…
To emphasize the finality of the moment and the futility of life he issues impossible, dramatic commands: “Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun; Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood” (14,15). The seemingly ridiculous nature of these directives suggest the speaker no longer cares about how he is perceived, drawing parallels to a frustrated, homosexual man not being accepted in society, and ultimately no longer concerned with keeping appearances. This marks a change from the conforming attitude in the outset of the poem and may offer a truer version of W.H. Auden, both as the speaker of the poem and as a gay writer. Although never clear, one viewpoint suggests that Auden is directing “Stop All the Clocks” at a fellow mourner. If true, this mourner could be seen as a metaphor for society. Homosexuality was considered a punishable crime in England at the time of the poem’s publication; thus, the speaker’s outward anger and hysteria may be directed at English society at large. This notion is in keeping with nihilism of the closing line: “ For nothing now can ever come to any good” (16), implying that like the present moment, the immediate future is doomed to misery, similar to how homosexuals were doomed in

Related Documents