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Funeral Blues

Funeral Blues

by W. H. Auden

Man and the Natural World Theme

The speaker of "Funeral Blues" wants us to put out the stars and dismantle the sun. These hyperbolic statements and the ones that follow are all about shutting down the natural world in order to demonstrate this poor guy's grief. It seems like the speaker knows that his commands are hyperbolic, exaggerated, and impossible, but thinks that nothing smaller than nature itself can communicate his despair accurately.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Why does the speaker invoke the stars, the moon, and the sun? Isn't he being a bit self-centered? 
  2. Why is the dog with the juicy bone in the poem? Is the dog part of nature, too? 
  3. Is the speaker's desire to "put out" the stars (and nature) over-the-top? Or is this how he really feels? 
  4. What's up with nature anyway? Why does the speaker target it in the last stanza? Why doesn't he go after the clocks and telephones again?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Nature is universal. The speaker issues his commands against nature so that everyone can understand his pain.

The speaker doesn't want nature to "end" for everyone. He just doesn't want to be reminded of the beautiful and romantic world out there while he's grieving.

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