Stop all the clocks

Stop all the clocks
W H Auden

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 crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen 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 for ever: 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 wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

27 thoughts on “Stop all the clocks

  1. jillypoet

    Michelle, my thoughts are with you. I am hoping the poetry you read and write will help you through this horrible time. Sending you a hug, new friend!

  2. dale

    Oh, Michelle, I’m so sorry.

    I think I can speak for most fathers when I say that if my daughter feels moved to write something like this at my death my life will have been perfect and complete. All the rest is detail.

  3. christine

    Michelle, how sad a loss, no words can really touch on it, even though this poem comes close. How beautiful a relationship you had with your father, what a gift, and even greater is how you cherished him and your relationship with him while he was with you. My heart it with you.

  4. Michelle Post author

    Chris – thank you so much. Perhaps, I should try to consider this as a readjustment rather than a loss. I still feel his spirit everywhere. I’m new at this. I’m not sure where to go from here … except I know every day will be a challenge.

    Jilly – I know the poetry I’ve read will help me through this. It’s already helped. I can’t imagine going through this without having read the poetry I’ve read.

    Dale – I feel inarticulate, wordless, at the moment, but so grateful I had the opportunity to tell my Dad how important he was to me and how much I loved him while he was alive.

    Christine – I’m so, so lucky. Thank you for being there.

    Jo – I send love back. And I know it’s going to be an awesome year.

  5. AJ

    “The birds are calling me, but I only need one. I am not greedy.”

    They finally came then, not just the little hoopoe that you needed, but a whole flight of falcons to take you high back over the hills of Umtali.

  6. Dave Bonta

    I’m very sorry to hear about your loss. As yet I’ve been fortunate not to experience the death of a parent – something I dread more than amost anything.

  7. Carolee


    dale’s right — it’s a beautiful thing that you have (present tense on purpose, b/c i think it will continue to evolve) with your father. death can’t stop love. it just keeps going and going. into the poems. up into the stars and back.

    lots of love to you.

  8. Veteran Poet

    Michelle my sistress, be a candle that survives the wind, be solid, Jah is da living man. May his soul rest in Peace, & the remainers accept the will of the Almighty. Your tear stream in our hearts, I believe you will ask the Heavens to guard you in this storm of pain. Put your broken soul in God. Good is good.

  9. Jane Holland

    So sorry to hear this, Michelle. I lost my own mother eight years ago, so have some understanding of how you may be feeling right now. We were fairly close. It never hurts less, but it does eventually get easier to bear. Take things one day at a time and don’t expect too much from yourself right now. Also, the loss of someone close to you can produce a very complex and unpredictable response, and it makes people do odd things. I actually found my own family hardest to live with when my mother died, due to the painful tangle of emotions and reactions in the immediate aftermath. Though the opposite may well be true for you, of course …

    Thinking of you.

  10. Noelle

    My heart breaks for you and the fact that you had such a loving relationship with your father…it will live on forever in your hearts. It is so unfair that your father has passed, he didn’t want to leave you and I, I have a father who has abandoned me 14 years go and wanted to leave me…he is the one who should have moved on, not your father. How cruel the world can sometimes be but I am so glad that you had a father that is so worthy of being missed. You are in my prayers…seek refuge in your poems and those around you who love you.

  11. Michelle Post author

    Jane, thank you. I will take one day at a time.

    Thank you, Noelle.

  12. S.L. Corsua

    So very sorry for your loss, dear. There’s so much love in this post, in the comment thread; you’re surrounded by it in this virtual space, more so in the perceptible warmth of your loved ones and close friends. Please be well.

  13. Alison Brackenbury

    Dear Michelle

    Now there is snow and frost in England, and half a moon- You must be very busy. Hope all is going as well as it can. Very best wishes,


  14. Michelle Post author

    Dear Alison

    Tonight, there is a glow from the moon behind the clouds. I’m preparing what I shall read at the funeral tomorrow, then a cup of tea and sleep.

    Keep warm.

  15. Susan Richardson

    Michelle, I’ve been away – have only just seen this. So, so sorry to hear of your loss. My mother died just over two years ago so I send you much empathy and sympathy. And love. x

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