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Stop All the Clocks by W.H. Auden

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Introduction

Poetry Commentary Stop All the Clocks by W.H. Auden Wystan Hugh (formally known as W.H) Auden was born in York, England, in 1907. Influenced by the work of Emily Dikinson, Robert Frost and some other poets, he published his first book of verse in 1928. Ever since, he has been recognized and admired for his incomparable technicality and his ability to write verses in many different forms. "Stop all the clocks" is one of Auden's most prominent poems; this lyrical ambiguity is what I will be depicting throughout this commentary. At first, when I read the title "Stop all the clocks", I was quite confused at what it could mean. I knew that it had to be figurative in some way since it didn't make any sense otherwise. I did not realize, until later, that I was quite wrong. It was not only the way the poem commenced, but it mostly portrayed the standstill of time in a slightly blunt way. The poem is actually about the death of a loved one, and the emotion of the person's lover (who is the speaker). ...read more.

Middle

Stanza two is also 4 lines long. As I try to understand it, I realize that is it quite the opposite of stanza one. Unlike stanza one, which tries to portray hiding emotions and being away from the world, stanza two speaks of publicizing the grief and exposing the anguish and misery of the situation. The speaker clearly wants the world to mourn with him/ her. I identify this by the line "Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead". Another aspect of the stanza I have noticed is that the speaker always has the death on his or her mind. This is because he/she wants or sees signs of mourning on everyday things, everyday life. This is illustrated through lines 7-8, "Put crepe bows round the white necks of public doves,/ Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves" I can see this. Once again, it is easy to detect imagery with the doves in crepe bows. The third stanza (lines 9-12) is a little more distinctive. This one describes the relationship the speaker had with his/her lover that passed away. The speaker portrays how much he/she meant to her. From lines 9-11, I found a pattern, actually. ...read more.

Conclusion

The last line, 16, has its own uniqueness as well; as it wraps the whole poem up. I see helplessness and hopelessness since the speaker has dismissed his/her will to live. This stanza gives a great sense of imagery since I could actually imagine somebody picking out the stars from the sky, or taking the sun and moon away like it were a simple act. The whole poem in general gives the reader (me) a very sorrowful feel. I felt very empathetic to the sufferer as he/she seemed to love the person very much. Something else that irritated me while writing this commentary after reading the poem is the question "Is the speaker a he or a she?" By line 6, we know that the dead lover is male. Normally by this, one would assume that the speaker would be female (a mistake that I made in the beginning). However, doing some background research on the author, Auden, I discovered that he was bisexual. This actually made me wonder whether the speaker could be a he. Thus, the mystery still remains. Although this poem seemed quite simple and straightforward to me, I found out that it is quite inexplicit as well in its own mysterious way. Nisha Kanabar 10R ...read more.

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