Friday Poetry: Funeral Blues

This week I said goodbye to my younger sister Liz. She flew out of Australia to live and study in Scotland for a year. Despite being six years my junior, Liz and I have always been the best friends. We know exactly what the other is thinking.

One thing I love about Liz is her contradictions. She sometimes likes to fancy herself a bit of hipster. However she also doesn’t mind putting her feet up to a good Midsummer Murders or reading anything by Alexander McCall Smith. Perhaps McCall-Smith is one of the reasons she chose to study in Scotland… Certainly after reading his books the place does feel like home.

Liz and I even lined up to meet Alexander McCall Smith at the Opera House. And a year earlier I had lined up to have my book signed by the author. He was quite the gentlemen, standing up and shaking hands with every person he met.

I think I asked him to sign one of Scotland Street books. But I also brought along a book of poems by W.H Auden.  As I had hoped he was surprised and delighted to see the book. I felt a little smug. I’m sure the whole line of middle ladies had wished they’d thought of such a clever trick.

You see, his novels are full of references to Auden. Characters are always using Auden’s poems to muse on life.

It’s hard to pick a favourite, so I’ve decided to go with one I know my sister loves.

Funeral Blues

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

W.H. Auden


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Siobhan
    Sep 06, 2013 @ 11:34:29

    Wow, you could be twins!


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