Sunday, July 15, 2012

Auden's Homosexual Views

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Original Title

The 10’s were a time of conflict for many people around the world. The western nations were trying to cope with the repocutions of the First World War, the economy was crumbling in America and the Second World War was within sight for Europe. In the midst of all this, the some peoples’faith in religion was going to be tested

W. H. Auden was one of those people. Auden’s homosexuality created for him different views on the world and religion which he expressed through his poetry and literature. In Auden’s “Stop All The Clocks” it is apparent that his homosexuality shaped his views on society, religion and love to influence his decision on renouncing his belief in Gd.



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Mankind has never been a race open to differences or change, whether it concerns the colour of your skin, your religion or your sexual preference which never enabled Auden to openly tell of his homosexuality. Between to having grown up with his diligent Anglican mother and being a schooled from the Christ Church in Oxford, Greshams school and Holt, all highly regarded religious schools (Farnan 175), Wystan was always a fairly religious boy. Based on the laws of Anglicanism, a homosexual has no place in the eyes of Gd. These laws had no importance to Auden until his later days when he met Chester Kallman, an 18 year old Brooklyn College student that he fell in love with. This realization of love made Auden question his religion and he makes it apparent through his use of diction and symbolism in “Stop all the Clocks”.



Auden opens the poem by wanting to silence the world to make a serious announcement. He uses the symbols that are associated with seriousness, one of them being death, hence the use of the coffin when he says, “Bring out the coffin” (l. 4).

Auden then taunts the public by saying, Let the mourners come. (l.4)

Which indicates that he is aware that the mourners, a metaphor for the public who will question his choice, and that he welcomes their comments and gossip. His statement is a direct comment to the public, wanting to express his decision to reject Gd.

Proceeding by giving his reasons for his decisions, Auden questions the Lord’s existence in the second stanza with reflection on the war that has taken place and the violence that happens each day. In line 7 Auden illustrates his first reason for his denunciation of faith with specific wording of crepe bows, white necks and public doves

“Put the crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves” (l.7)

The crepe bows depict a sort of fetter, disguised as the joyous symbol that the bow represents, that could be easily broken since crepe is very fragile. The white necks is a metaphor for the white collared public that is being restrained and the dove is a universal symbol for peace, peace that is rightly deserved by everybody which is why Auden includes the word public. This realisation comes with the fact that he finds Gd’s decisions to be unfounded and irrational. Auden’s belief is that if the Lord was just and wanted all his children to live happily, he would not let wars happen and all would live in a utopia. This passage also has meaning from Audens personal life, that if there is no place for homosexuals in the Lord’s eyes, as described in the Anglican Sacred Scripture (www.newadvent.org), how could he have ever been such a devoted follower of the Christian faith.

Auden makes references to his religious past and his devotion as an Anglican when he refers to

“He was my North, my South, my East and West,

My working week and my Sunday rest,” (l. &10).

The use of the word “rest” signifies that he once found his religion to be a place of tranquility and relaxation but because Auden uses the past tense to describe these emotions, it illustrates that it is no more the case. His prior religious devotion can be seen in his use of vocabulary in line 11

“My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;”

By using the specific wording such as “midnight”, “noon” and “song” Auden tells us that he used to take part in midnight masses, daily devotion at noon with daily prayer and that he enjoyed singing along with the choir.



In the fourth stanza, Auden shows his conversions from religious beliefs to scientific ones with his description of “dismantle the sun”. The specific use of the word dismantle explains to the reader that the sun, in Auden’s views, is a product of science and not Gd. It is through science that the sun has been broken into components (the core, the photosphere, the chromosphere and the corona) and components can be dismantled, as opposed to if the sun were a creation of Gd then it would just be taken away.

Audens actual denounciation of faith and religion is done on two seperate lines

Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead, (l. 6)

I thought that love would last for ever I was wrong (l.1)



A man is shaped by his character and views to define who and what his beliefs are. Audens homosexual tendacies gave his views a different spin from the norm and turned his once christian beliefs into those of dismay and non-croyance. Audens decision to denounce Gd and the beliefs of christianity were therefore greatly influenced by his homosexuality.

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