Today’s poem is one of the saddest I have read in the English language. It is by W. H. Auden, dated around 1945. The last line encapsulates deep despair and sadness. I think it is best to read it when things are fine and life is not turbulent.
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum,
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead,
Put crepe bows around the necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policeman wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one:
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods:
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
What strikes me in the last verse is how an impotent human raging against the universe wants the whole show to be packed up. It is as if the world is a mere stage and now that the play is over, it is time to shut it down. The stars are lights that can be switched off, the moon just another prop to be put away, the sun a human construct that needs to be taken down, the oceans and the woods are just superficial scenery which can be removed.