by W. H. Auden
Stanza 3 Summary
Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
He was my North, my South, my East and West
My working week and my Sunday rest,
- Ah, this clears things up a bit. This speaker is so broken up about stuff (and wants everyone else to be broke up about it, too) because he really loved the dead man. It doesn't seem like he was the leader of England or a world-class gymnast or anything like that. The dead man is someone the speaker knew and loved in daily life.
- These lines are incredibly personal, especially when compared to the earlier lines that are mostly about public mourning. The dead man meant everything to the speaker, so it's no wonder he'd like all the world around him to reflect the fact that the guy's dead.
- Metaphor alert. Was the dead man really a calendar of days for the speaker? All the directions on a compass? Of course not. But in a metaphor, we describe one thing by way of another thing. So here, the speaker describes the dead man by saying that he was like a compass for him, and also like every day of the week for him. He provided direction, and filled his time. It's a more poetic way of saying, "hey, I loved this dude! He was important to me!"
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.
- More metaphors. These lines seem to imply that the dead man filled every hour of the speaker's day. He brought conversation and joy into the speaker's life.
- And then BAM. Line 12 hits you over the head.
- While the previous lines were lovely and metaphorical, this one is straight-up harsh. Your loved ones will die. No love lasts forever. Have fun staying up late at night thinking about that one, suckers.