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“Being-In-Love” by Roger McGough and “Stop All the Clocks” by W.H Auden

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Two poems, Roger McGough’s “Being-In-Love”, and “Stop All the Clocks” by W.H Auden, are similar and different in a variety of ways. Both poems however, share the main theme; Love. The first poem, explores the idea of ‘unrequited love’, while the second poem is an expression of grief for someone who has recently died.

Roger McGough’s Being-In-Love, begins in the first stanza describing this person who he is in love with: “you are so very beautiful”. The speaker is presumably a male, because of the choice of vocabulary used to describe this person, such as the use of the word “beautiful”. This adjective is usually only used to describe a female, as males are generally described as handsome, rather than beautiful.

“Your eyes so often sadnessful, and lips so kissinspiring.” In these two lines, the author has added two words that are made up, most likely because they help to describe these features of this person better than other words could, and also because they follow the rhyme scheme.

The rhyme scheme is very regular in the first stanza, and it is as follows: A, B, A, B. The rhythm is also regular in the first stanza, where each ‘A’ line has seven syllables, and all ‘B’ lines have eight syllables. The effect of this regular rhyme scheme and rhythm, is that it allows the reader to read the poem smoothly, and absorb the content while creating images in the reader’s mind, of this person. The second verse is slightly different from the first one, and the topic changes to the fact that his love is not returned: “I think about my being-in-love, and touch the flesh you wear so well. I think about my being-in-love, and wish you were as well.”

These next four lines express the speaker’s feelings very clearly, cleverly using repetition as an aid to convey this desire across in the reader’s mind. The repetition of the line; “I think about you being in love”, also created a very strong rhythm, and a heavy rhyme scheme. The rhyme scheme is still an ABAB structure, but it is reinforced through this method of repetition. The structure is almost the same as the structure of the first verse, until “as well” is repeated, and then used again in the last line:

“and wish you were as well, as well, and wish you were as well.”

Although this use of the phrase “as well” three times changes the structure of the last stanza, it works very well and puts emphasis on the idea that his love is not returned.

The speaker in this poem, as mentioned before, is probably a man, and could either be a young teen in love for the first time, or an older man who has tried love a few times before, but has previously been rejected. There is also an interesting lack of capital letters and punctuation in this poem. I believe that the lack of correct capital letters and punctuation also suggests that this poem is meant to be read any way, rather than a structured poem.

The poem Stop All the Clocks by W.H Auden is a very strongly structured poem that expresses the sadness and futility of life after someone who was deeply loved has died.

“Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone”. This first line, which is also the title of the poem, initially suggests the idea that the poem could be slightly humorous and light-hearted. The next line: “Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone”, strongly suggests this as well. However, the next two lines of the first stanza, in particular the second one, makes it clear that someone has died, and is being mourned for; “Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come”

In the second stanza, the reader is exposed to the first real information about this person who has died, and the poem becomes more serious, and develops a melancholic tone. It is apparent after this line; “Scribbling in the sky the message He is dead”, that the one who died was a man. From this, one can guess that the speaker is either a women who was in love with him, or a close friend or family member.

“Let the policeman wear black cotton gloves”. This line can be seen as a form
of imagery, expressing the feeling that her grief is so great, that the death of this person should be occurrence, that should be nationally mourned.

The third stanza slightly explains and expands the idea of this persons significance, and the speaker reveals how he meant everything to her:

“He was my north, my south, my east, my west. My working week and my Sunday rest.” The first three lines of the third stanza just state how important this person was to her, and what a huge part of her life he was. The next line, proves that the one grieving was a lover of the one who died:

“I thought my love would last forever; I was wrong”. The last line of the poem is very emotive, making it apparent that the person who died meant everything to the women, and she believes that “nothing now can ever come to any good.” Imagery, is also used in the last stanza, portraying an image of a women who has stopped caring about life, and is forever grieving.

“Time doesn’t matter anymore, stop all the clocks”.

In conclusion, both poems strongly express their feelings, and they are both written in similar structures. Although the purposes and style in which they are written in are very different, the theme is nevertheless the same.

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