The Sting Of Love And Death Essay
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 a nihilistic future. The back-and-forth nature of the poem intensifies the wild and fragmented emotions associated with the funeral. By drifting between changes in time, Auden uses the formality of the occasion to channel intense grief, display the powerful love for a dead lover, and express the underlying anger at being a repressed homosexual in unaccepting times.
The introduction is anchored in the present moment where the poet observes the formalities of a funeral, using vivid and powerful imagery to represent mourning and convey the deep love for his partner. In 1930’s England, observing the traditions of a formal funeral was common, and it would seem that Auden felt the need for seriousness and propriety, and to conform to the…