Death Reflected in Auden’s Funeral Blues, Forche’s Memory of Elena, and Dickinson’s Last Night that She lived
Death is a natural and inevitable part of life. Everyone will experience death, whether it is of a loved one or oneself. In W.H. Auden’s poem “Funeral Blues” (1003), he describes such a catastrophic event and the drastic effect that it has on his life. It is interesting how people choose to accept this permanent and expected event, death. Similarly, Emily Dickinson has written many poems about death, such as “The last Night that She lived” (843), which describes a family waiting for a woman or girl to die and the dreary and depressed mood that exists within the household. Mourning is considered a perfectly healthy reaction when someone who is deeply loved and cared about passes on, and this is illustrated in “The Memory of Elena” (1070-71) by Carolyn Forche. She writes about the events following a funeral and also flashes back to the actual moment that a wife has watched her husband die. W.H Auden’s “Funeral Blues,” Carolyn Forche’s “The Memory of Elena,” and Emily Dickinson’s “The last Night that She lived” are all poems which share death as their subject matter, but differ in the fact that they discuss death in a unique style with a variety of literary devices to make them more effective.
Upon reading these poems, I could relate to each strongly on a personal level. Each poem expresses a different view of death and the different stages of acceptance and grieving. When I was younger, my grandmother passed away. I was quite fond of my grandmother and she and I had a close relationship. When she passed away, I was devastated and went through a series of phases and emotions, much like those descr...
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...otions are expressed in the poems “Funeral Blues” by W.H. Auden, “The Memory of Elena” by Carolyn Forche, and “The last Night that She lived” by Emily Dickenson. Although each poet writes with his or her own literary techniques, such as rhyme scheme and hyperbole, symbolism and repetition, and dramatic pauses, they all have made the experience of death seem real and personal to the reader, and that is why their works are considered great works of modern, contemporary, and classical poetry.
Auden, W.H. “Funeral Blues.” Literature. 5th ed. Ed. Robert DiYanni. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002. 1003.
Dickinson, Emily. “The last Night that She lived.” Literature. 5th ed. Ed. Robert DiYanni. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002. 843.
Forche, Carolyn. “The Memory of Elena.” Literature. 5th ed. Ed. Robert DiYanni. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002. 1070-71.