by W. H. Auden
Funeral Blues Theme of Death
"Funeral Blues" pretty much puts it all out there in the title: this is a poem about death. Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad death. After the death of his loved one, the speaker has no joy or hope. He is completely and utterly devastated. There's no silver living in this poem, no happy endings, no smiles or songs. There's only the notion that death is the pits, and not just for the dead—for the living, too.
Questions About Death
- Do we know exactly what the relationship was between the speaker and the dead man?
- Is there a connection between the rhymes and the theme of death in the poem? What do you think it might be?
- Does the speaker exaggerate his love for the dead man so much that it's unbelievable? Or does his hyperbole make the poem even more meaningful?
- Why does the speaker issue so many commands? What is the relationship between this commanding speech and death?
- Do you see any hope in this poem? Is the speaker condemned to a sort of death-in-life after the death of his loved one?
Chew on This
There is no hope at all in "Funeral Blues." As the speaker says, "nothing now can ever come to any good."
The very fact that the poem "Funeral Blues" exists provides hope. Art has been made in the wake of the man's death. Poetry is a kind of hope.