Stop The Clocks

W.H.Auden … Pen & Sepia Wash: WHB – 2001

FUNERAL  BLUES by 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 crepe 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.

Auden composed two versions of this poem.  This, the most popular version, was composed in 1938.  It was written to be sung by the soprano Hedli Anderson in a setting by Benjamin Britten.  It is now frequently used in funeral services, particularly since It was widely popularised in the 1994 British romantic comedy film ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’.

The pen and wash drawing above was made by me in 200. 
It is of Auden when in his sixties.

Reverie #6: Doubt

trees in park

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Reverie #6: Doubt

 

Nothing in the world is certain
Pull up anchor
Sink or swim
Switch the light off
Draw the curtain
Do it now upon a whim. 

You’ll find your destiny has spoken
Only when you realise
That all is doubt
Some lows
Some highs
And all good fortune  rests
Upon that final funeral hymn. 

Abide with me
Do not forsake me
You are needed by my side
A life is given
A life is taken
Now fast falls the eventide
Stay for ever
Leave me never
‘Lama sabachthani’, He cried.

 

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The Lark Ascending

The Lark Ascending

THE LARK ASCENDING

 

As the morning lark ascends 

So my spirits fly,

Replaying my life. 

The memories spill

Across the cloudless sky,

And I consider time well spent 

Because it was spent with you.

And what the future has in store 

Holds no fears for me. 

The past was rich; 

We caught the wind,

Soared with each new gust,

Through dips and dives

We stayed alive.

Fruition came anew.

With each new swoop,

Each twist and turn,

A new path was revealed.

We that were two

Are now as one,

Our destinies are sealed.

 

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A poem written to keep in my memory the thoughts engendered by the music played at my wife’s funeral eight weeks ago today.  Composed by Vaughan Williams, ‘The Lark Ascending’ was very much her favourite piece of classical music.  The version used was played on the violin by the Scottish violinist, Nicola Benedetti, and can be heard on YouTube at: ‘The Lark Ascending’

 

 

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He is Gone

funeral party

A Quote from that great  English comedienne, actress, singer and songwriter, screenwriter, producer and director, Victoria Wood, who sadly passed away in 2016 at the age of 63 . . .

“In India, if a man dies, the widow flings herself onto the funeral pyre; if a man dies in this country, the woman just drags herself into the kitchen and says, ‘Seventy-two baps, Connie, you slice, I’ll spread’ “

From: ‘Great British Wit’ by Rosemary Jarski  (Ebury Press 2009)

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Pull the stops out
He is gone;
Start a new life,
Don’t dwell upon

What once was quick,
It now is dead,
Life starts afresh;
He always said,

“When I am gone
Do not be sad,
Start a new life
And be glad.

Get out the glad rags,
Have a party,
You’ll be fine now,
Hale and hearty.

Ready to start
A brand new life,
A brand new woman,
An experienced wife.

Time to sparkle,
Forget the past;
Your Prince awaits you,
Free at last.

For when I’m safely
In my box,
No need then
To stop all the clocks.”

 

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Grief’s Threnody

On 4th June, The Isle of Barra came together as “one big family” to celebrate the life of  14 year-old Eilidh Macleod, the “dear, beautiful” teenager who died in the Manchester bombing terrorist attack on 22 May.
Eilidh herself was a piper with Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band.

Return to Barra

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Coffin on the sands of Barra
Processed across the bay
Piped to eternity
By the winds of the Hebrides
Lost to the world
That nurtured her here
In youth still full of joy
At large on that southern stage
Whereon she was slaughtered
Bombed to death by bitterness
Unleashed unbidden on humanity
By senseless gross insanity
By gullibility beyond belief
Returned now in remembrance
A life’s peroration

Grief’s threnody
On love’s lasting hold on life

 

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The Lyke Wake Dirge

 

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Aysgarth Church at dusk – WHB – 1981

In my blog yesterday on The North Yorkshire Moors National Park , I mentioned the Lyke Wake Walk.  This 40 mile walk crosses the most extensive area of heather moorland in England.  When the walk was first instituted in the mid 20th Century the challenge was given to complete it within 24 hours.  Many walkers still attempt this.

Although the walk itself is a relatively modern event, the Like Wake itself originated as a funeral chant in the 14th Century in and around Cleveland on and around the northern scarp slope of these moors.  The Dirge as it was known, was normally sung during the traditional watch (wake) at the side of the corpse (lyke).  Known now as the Lyke Wake Dirge,  it is said to be one of the earliest still extant, dialect poems.

John Aubrey wrote in his diaries in 1686 “The beliefe in Yorkshire was amongst the vulgar (perhaps is in part still) that after the person’s death the soule went over Whinny-Moore, and till about 1616-24 at the funerale a woman came and sang the following song.”

Lyke Wake Dirge

This ae neet, this ae neet,
Every neet and all,
Fire an’ fleet an’ candleleet,
And Christ receive thy saul.

If thou from here our wake has passed,
Every neet and all,
To Whinny Moor thou comes at last,
And Christ receive thy saul.

And if ever thou gavest hosen or shoen,
Every neet and all,
Then sit ye down and put them on,
And Christ receive thy saul.

But if hosen or shoen thou ne’er gavest nane,
Every neet and all,
The whinny will prick thee to thy bare bane,
And Christ receive thy saul.

From Whinny Moor when thou mayst pass,
Every neet and all,
To Brig o’ Dread thou comest at last,
And Christ receive thy saul.

From Brig o’ Dread when thou may’st pass,
Every neet and all,
To Purgatory thou comest at last,
And Christ receive thy saul.

And if ever thou gavest meat or drink,
Every neet and all,
The fire will never make thee shrink,
And Christ receive thy saul

But if meat nor drink thou ne’er gav’st nane,
Every neet and all,
The fire will burn thee to thy bare bane,
And Christ receive thy saul.

This ae neet, this ae neet,
Every neet and all,
Fire an’ fleet an’ candleleet,
And Christ receive thy saul.

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The following is an extract from ‘Lyke Wake Walk” by Bill Cowley . . .

“Wake” means the watching over a corpse, and “Lyke” is the corpse itself- as in the “lych” gate of a church-c/f. German “leich “. … there is no suggestion that corpses were carried over the Lyke Wake Walk, and the connection between Walk and Dirge is merely that members of the first party to do the Walk, like many who have done it since, finding themselves in the middle of Wheeldale Moor at 3 a.m. felt a great sympathy with all the souls who have to do such a crossing, and a real affection for the poetry of the Dirge-its stark simplicity, repetitions, and dramatic power. Perhaps only those who have crossed Wheeldale or Fylingdales Moors with storm and darkness threatening can fully appreciate the beauty of the Lyke Wake Dirge.

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The BabbleLingua website has a translation of the dialect poem into modern English alongside a version of the original dirge.  The website also includes video links to the song being sung by both ‘The young Tradition’ and by ‘Pentangle’.  Click on the link below to visit.

Lyke Wake Dirge

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Haworth Churchyard at dusk – Yorkshire  … WHB – 1983

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‘Funeral Blues’ – W.H.Auden

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W.H.Auden … WHB – 2001

FUNERAL  BLUES

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 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.

funeralblues


 W.H.Auden composed two versions of this poem.  This, the most popular version, was composed in 1938.  It was written to be sung by the soprano Heidi Anderson in a setting by Benjamin Britten.  It is now frequently used in funeral services, particularly since It was widely popularised in the 1994 British romantic comedy film ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’.

The pen and wash drawing above was made by me in 2001.
It is of Auden as he was in 1970, just 3 years before he died.