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Funeral Blues': The Portrayal of Loss and Love in One-sex Relationship

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I have chosen to analyse the poem Funeral Blues by Wystan Hugh Auden. He was a homosexual and wrote it for his boyfriend Christopher Isherwood that died from prostate cancer. The two of them met during their studies and had a very intense relationship. This poem has a very dark feeling to it; you can sense it just by reading the title. It is filled with emotions anyone who has lost someone can relate to.

Funeral Blues was published in The Year’s poetry in 1938, it is written by Wystan Hugh Auden in London. At this time being homosexual was not accepted, actually it was illegal, so the author must have been brave to show this to the world. The poem does not belong to a specific period; the timing is in between the first and the Second World War. Jews were not the only minority that were treated inhumanly at this time; homosexuals were also being killed and sent to the concentration camps.

Funeral Blues is a tribute to Christopher from Wystan, he uses the poem as a way to say his final goodbye. The poem does not really have a timeframe; the perspective of time does not really matter in this setting. Most people lose track of time when they are having a hard time coping with something. It can go days or even weeks without you registering the time that has passed by. Life does not stop for tragedies; everyone around you is still living their lives. In contrast, your world has been turned upside down and banal issues does not matter anymore. Wystan Hugh Auden is reading this poem to his boyfriend at his funeral.

There are both four stanzas and four lines in each stanza. No obvious repetitions can be found in the poem, however, the first letter of the midline repeats in the two last stanzas. This could be a coincidence, although, it makes an effect on the final look of the poem. The last word in the two first rhymes as well as the two last words in the last two lines. For instance telephone and bone from the first two lines in the first stanza. There are exceptions in the first stanza in the two last lines and the two first lines in the last stanza.

The title of the poem is Funeral Blues, the reason why it is called this is obviously because it is a poem written for a funeral. The colour blue is also often associated with something negative or gloomy. “Having the blues” is a phrase that refers to being sad or depressed. The author plays with emotions, the way he writes makes the reader feel the pain he is feeling. In fact, it is enough that someone who lost the love of their life wrote it. Describing feelings like that makes us feel compassion for him, as well as making a strong impression. He describes their love in such a beautiful way, tragic feelings of desperation comes to life.

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The author uses a lot of metaphors and imagery to describe how much his boyfriend meant to him. For instance, “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”, this symbolizes that he was everything to him, without him he is completely lost. Life has no meaning after a tragedy like this one. It is like all of you happiness is drained from your body. Like you will never be happy again. The author is describing the love he felt for this man as well as how much it hurt to lose him.

“Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves” is an image used in the poem. Policemen usually wear white gloves, but white is a way too light color to describe the darkness the author feels. In his opinion, everything around him should turn dark, because how can anything be light when his love has died?

The words in this poem can be interpreted in many ways, an example is the two first lines; “Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone. Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.” I think what the author tries to convey in the first sentence is that when someone you care about dies you lose track of the time. Everything around you just stop, nothing matters anymore. Secondly, you are getting disconnected to the rest of the world. After a tragedy, you do not think of things such as checking your Facebook or mail for instance. The second sentence can also have several meanings. It could be a reminder of that things do get better after a while, you just have to get through the worst part. Loss and love are definitely the themes in this poem, one can easily tell.

Loss because the author lost his boyfriend and reads this at his funeral. He is describing how hard it is to get through losing that one person that mattered the most. Grieving is not fun, however, it is a necessary part of moving on. Funeral Blues also says something about that love is love, no matter who it is. You can love a man or woman and it does not matter because the person you love is everything to you.

Funeral Blues definitely succeeds in describing what it means to lose someone you love and how to deal with it. Considering the time this is written in, it is incredible of the author to publish this. Things like that is a huge step for humanity. I think that this poem is giving a lot of inspiration to homosexuals today that they should be ashamed of who they love. One should not let other people define you or prevent you from living your life. However, it does not necessarily need to be about being homosexual. No matter your sexual orientation, dealing with loss is tough for everyone. Looking past the part about sexualities, Funeral Blues can relate to anyone.

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Funeral Blues’: The Portrayal of Loss and Love in One-sex Relationship. (2022, October 28). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from
“Funeral Blues’: The Portrayal of Loss and Love in One-sex Relationship.” Edubirdie, 28 Oct. 2022,
Funeral Blues’: The Portrayal of Loss and Love in One-sex Relationship. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 8 Feb. 2023].
Funeral Blues’: The Portrayal of Loss and Love in One-sex Relationship [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Oct 28 [cited 2023 Feb 8]. Available from:
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