Books are cheaper than heroin, but they DO add up....

Amy, Carrie, Chanin and Sarah buy (and read and review) their own stuff. They've been known to shop around from dealer to dealer looking for the best price. If you're interested in slipping them something to try out, just contact us.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone by W. H. Auden

Some of my favorite people are grieving right now or are remembering their initial grief as they acknowledge the anniversary of a loss. My heart and prayers go out to them all.

What strikes me at these times is that the world is such a rude place.  While you hurt that deep ache of loss, while the pain makes you curl up into a ball, the world keeps on turning.  The sun rises, clocks tick, grass grows, and time goes on.  And still you grieve.  More than likely you have good friends and family who know of your pain, but there's never any acknowledgment by the Universe (and, yes, I meant for that to be capitalized).  How can that be?  Surely your grief can blot out the sun. The Universe should be obligated to acknowledge THAT.

I'm not doing a very good job of describing this, but I'm not sure anyone could articulate it better than W.H. Auden did in his poem "Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone".

I first heard this read as part of the script of the movie "Four Weddings and a Funeral".  I thought the movie was uneven, but that the poem was pitch perfect.  In those words--that I've included in this post--Auden highlighted the hugeness of grief, how it seems, surely, that the world is changed by our hurt.  The words are meant for the grief of your beloved, but I think most of the sentiment is shared whenever  you lose someone close.

"Stop all the clocks" ends on a harshly pessimistic note, but I think that's fair.  I think that's despair, and I pray that all your despair be temporary.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone 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 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. Pin It


  1. I heard this poem for the very first time this morning on a radio program I was listening to on the way home from grandma's house. How strange that it would cross my path twice in one day, and this day of all days. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Erin, you're most welcome.

    Isn't it amazing how something you've never been aware of can suddenly pop up everywhere? Is that a sign that God's grace always surrounds us?