Explain the importance of the last stanza of Auden's "Funeral Blues."

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The last stanza of Auden's "Funeral Blues" speaks to what reality becomes when a loved one departs and another is left to face it without them.  Death is seen in a variety of spiritual and cultural contexts.  Yet, one universal is that the person that is left behind must assemble life and meaning in the shadow and cavernous crater that death causes.  Auden takes the point of view that this is an experience whereby all that had meaning and had beauty no longer has it.  The imagery employed in the last stanza represent elements of the natural world that people can share with one another.  For example, the luminous nature of the stars, the stately presence of the moon, the illuminating warmth of the sun, and the fluid beauty of the ocean are all examples of how the natural world is something that is shared and experienced with another person.  The last stanza features the speaker openly putting aside such elements now that the one they loved is gone.  All of these natural phenomena no longer have meaning.  This is summarized in the last line where "Nothing now can ever come to any good."  Such a statement reflects how death severs bonds, cuts off connection, and removes a sense of the individual like that two people devoted to one another share.  When one of them is left behind, constructing reality becomes a challenge.  It becomes a painful experience when things that were shared together cannot be, and this is where the last stanza approaches how the surviving individual appropriates consciousness and understands death as a result of it.  This last stanza is important because it speaks to how the shared consciousness of the external world is fundamentally altered when part of that shared consciousness is removed, leaving the surivor as one who no longer lives life, but merely exists.


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