W.H. Auden (1940)
The element of this poem that had the greatest impact on me was its subject matter. It’s an incredibly sad poem about the love of one’s life dying. The first time I heard it was during the funeral scene in Four Weddings and a Funeral. The sense of finality that runs through it is overwhelming. The tone of the poem is utter despair.
Even though I’ve never experienced losing a person I care about this way, the words chosen and the feeling of the poem choke me up every time I read it. Auden is basically saying that the world should stop because his love is dead. This is one of the saddest yet most romantic poems I’ve ever read.
The line “ Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun” stood out for me in this poem. The moon and the sun are a necessary part of our lives, and I could see that Auden felt the same way about his love. Once the love of his life died, he felt as if everything else should be stopped too. It made me look at something I take for granted everyday (the moon and the sun), in a new way; as a painful reminder that life does go on, whether we want it to or not.
The rhythm of this poem, with its slow and steady beat, also contributes to my reaction to the poem. The mood is somber and serious, reflecting the writer’s feelings. An example of this is in the last line of the third stanza, “I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.” The finality of the statement almost hangs in the air as these words are said out loud. They represent for me the finality of death and its impact on us.
I’ve never been able to find out for whom this poem was written. I’ve researched it, but have not found any information. Interestingly, I’ve not changed my feelings for the poem from the first time I heard it. I hope that someday I love and am loved as much as the individuals in this poem. I think it is beautiful, poignant and romantic.