Sunday, August 23, 2009

Auden's "Funeral Blues"

Two of my loves are poetry and film; so, it's great when the two work together. I will present some samples this semester of ways that filmmakers have used poetry and viewed poets on film. To start, here is a clip from a popular '90's film, "Four Weddings and a Funeral." In it, a character reads and recites a poem by the British/American poet W.H. Auden. This is a kind of elegy. I will post some exercise ideas on the Syllabus on the class web site. Meanwhile, consider looking up other elegies, and other poems by Auden. Auden is important in many ways, but among them is his broad and masterful practice of traditional prosodic forms. His poetry is good to read and borrow from in your efforts to learn.

Here is the clip, found on Youtube:


  1. Auden wrote a good poem that adequately captures grief. However, I think that the film clip gives it immediacy and a power that it lacks on the page. I read the poem and I thought “nice poem”. I watched it being performed and I was almost in tears. This poem is telling us that one human being’s life is over and that is brought home with the imagery of the coffin being put into the car.

    M. Smith


    This is a link to one of my favorite elegy-type poems. I don't have kids yet, but it's always touched me. Somehow after I finish reading this poem, I feel relief.

  3. Auden's poem is so beautiful. When I read it, he seems almost frantic that all these tasks be done. The impossibility of them adds to the hopless feeling of life without this love. It also seems to comment on the secrecy of this grief. He wants the whole world to shut down and feel what he feels, but, of course, that can never happen.
    On an unrelated note, every time I watch this movie I am stunned to think that John Hannah (the man who recites the poem) went on the play the annoying brother in the Mummy series with Rachel Weiz and Brendan Fraiser.

  4. I found the poem used in the movie to be very touching, and heartbreaking at the same time. I guess when a poem is read out loud more emotions are put into it, and the poem seems to take on a whole new meaning. I haven't seen this movie, and I know that it's been around for a few years. Seeing just this one clip of a man reciting a poem makes me want to see what the movie was all about.

  5. Oh Gees! this poem is really beautiful. As I read it, I just couldn't imagine what he guy was feeling like to loose a loved one. Looking at the movie clip made me want to cry. It's just so sad, looking at this clip. Makes me remember, whenever we lost my little cousin who was always very happy and playful, full of life. Yet, she was gone at the age of 2. I would really like to see the entire movie. :D

  6. I found this poem to be very moving. I've lost many loved ones but I think the worst funeral was my little cousin. He drowned in a bih clear bucket and to see this brought back memories of when I saw him already lifeless in the hospital room. I loved the poem but it brought back sad memories.