The Theme of Loving a "Beloved" One in The Poem

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1015 |

Pages: 2|

6 min read

Published: Jan 4, 2019

Words: 1015|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Jan 4, 2019


Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Themes of Grief and Love
  3. Analyzing Structure and Language
  4. Themes of Despair and Hopelessness
  5. Conclusion


W.H. Auden's "Funeral Blues" is a poignant reflection on loss and despair, encapsulating the profound grief experienced by the narrator following the death of a loved one. Originally penned in the 1930s, the poem has endured as a timeless exploration of human emotions, resonating with readers across generations. Through its evocative language, structured rhyme scheme, and thematic depth, "Funeral Blues" offers a window into the complexities of mourning and the overwhelming sense of emptiness that accompanies profound loss.

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In this essay, we will delve into the multifaceted themes and literary techniques employed by Auden in "Funeral Blues," examining how the poem navigates the terrain of grief, love, and despair while employing a structured rhyme scheme and vivid imagery to convey the narrator's emotional turmoil.

Themes of Grief and Love

Auden's "Funeral Blues" traverses the landscape of grief with a raw intensity that resonates deeply with readers. The narrator's profound sense of loss is palpable from the opening lines, where they implore, "Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone" (Auden, 1). This desperate plea for the cessation of time underscores the narrator's inability to reconcile the reality of their beloved's absence. Moreover, the use of hyperbole in lines such as "Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun" (Auden, 4) amplifies the magnitude of their despair, as they grapple with the incomprehensible void left by their loved one's departure.

Central to the poem is the narrator's unwavering devotion to the deceased, expressed through reverent imagery and metaphorical language. The declaration, "He was my North, my South, my East, and West" (Auden, 5), encapsulates the all-encompassing nature of their love, painting a portrait of a relationship that transcends earthly bounds. However, this profound connection only serves to intensify the narrator's anguish in the wake of their beloved's passing, as evidenced by the lament, "I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong" (Auden, 7).

While the poem predominantly explores themes of grief and despair, it also offers glimpses of love's enduring power to transcend mortality. Despite the narrator's profound sense of loss, their love for the deceased remains steadfast, illuminating the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

Analyzing Structure and Language

Auden's meticulous attention to structure and language further enhances the emotional impact of "Funeral Blues," providing a framework through which the narrator's anguish is expressed. The poem's AABB rhyme scheme lends a sense of rhythmic continuity to the verses, underscoring the cyclical nature of grief and the relentless passage of time.

Moreover, Auden's use of vivid imagery and metaphorical language serves to heighten the poem's emotional resonance, inviting readers into the narrator's innermost thoughts and feelings. Phrases such as "Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead" (Auden, 2) and "Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood" (Auden, 12) evoke a sense of surrealism, conveying the surreal nature of grief and the overwhelming desire to escape from the pain of loss.

Furthermore, Auden employs literary devices such as metaphors and hyperboles to underscore the magnitude of the narrator's emotions. The repeated use of hyperbolic language, such as "Stop all the clocks" and "Pack up the moon," serves to magnify the intensity of the narrator's despair, while metaphors such as "He was my North, my South" imbue the poem with a sense of emotional depth and intimacy.

Themes of Despair and Hopelessness

In addition to themes of grief and love, "Funeral Blues" also explores the existential themes of despair and hopelessness. The narrator's profound sense of loss permeates every line of the poem, culminating in the devastating declaration, "For nothing now can ever come to any good" (Auden, 16). This final lament encapsulates the narrator's belief that life is devoid of meaning in the absence of their beloved, underscoring the existential crisis precipitated by their loss.

Moreover, the poem's somber tone and melancholic imagery serve to reinforce the overarching sense of despair that pervades the narrative. The narrator's plea to "silence the pianos and with muffled drum / Bring out the coffin" (Auden, 3-4) reflects their desire to retreat from the world and immerse themselves in their grief, further underscoring the futility of existence in the absence of their beloved.

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In conclusion, W.H. Auden's "Funeral Blues" stands as a timeless meditation on grief, love, and despair, exploring the profound emotional landscape of mourning with a depth and intensity that continues to resonate with readers today. Through its structured rhyme scheme, vivid imagery, and thematic richness, the poem offers a poignant portrayal of the human experience of loss, underscoring the enduring power of love to transcend the boundaries of mortality. As we navigate the complexities of grief alongside the narrator, we are reminded of the universal nature of human suffering and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.


  1. Bloom, H. (Ed.). (2010). W.H. Auden (Bloom’s Modern Critical Views). Chelsea House Publications.
  2. Mendelson, E. (1999). Later Auden. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  3. Farnan, D. L. (1995). The Chronology of W. H. Auden’s “Funeral Blues”. Notes and Queries, 42(4), 483–486.
  4. Davenport-Hines, R. (2001). Auden. Pimlico.
  5. Carpenter, H. (Ed.). (2001). W.H. Auden: A Bibliography 1924-1969. Clarendon Press.
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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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The Theme of Loving a “Beloved” One in The Poem. (2019, January 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from
“The Theme of Loving a “Beloved” One in The Poem.” GradesFixer, 03 Jan. 2019,
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