Stop All the Clocks by W.H. Auden
3 March 2002


When I first read this poem I thought it was written by a woman, because of the references to a male lover. However, I have discovered that Auden is male, so I suppose he must be homosexual. Taken at face value the poem is interesting enough, a moving account of one person's grief at the death of their lover. With this extra shade of knowledge it becomes fascinating. There is no clue, however, no hint that homosexuals' love is different to anyone else's. It merely sounds like a woman's lament at her lover's death. It takes no great stretch of the imagination to place a man in the position of the woman.

The total despair I recognise but do not empathise with, as I've never been "in love" and it's some time since infatuation glanced my way. Instead I tend to take the "snap out of it" angle with my lovelorn and tragic friends. However, one cannot say "snap out of it" to such a heartfelt cry of despair as is found in this poem. The poet seems to mean it, so I am forced, for the moment, to sympathise... or at least to give him room to scream.


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