Thinking Out Loud: An Audenary Tale

WH Auden’s Stop All the Clocks always has the ability to make me cry, and not just a discreet trickle. The heartfelt emotional outburst sealed in the third verse of lies in wait for me as I read the first line, inside I am anticipating its intensity and power and the sadness, along with the tears. In my head it is always read in a Scottish voice, mimicking John Hannah’s rendition in 4 Weddings and a Funeral, and it too trembles.

5432fbfc708038d304fad926bca956d8Stop All the Clocks takes me straight to a place of grief and loss. I cannot put myself in Auden’s place and contemplate this significance of this event in his life, yet at the same time, I am living or perhaps, reliving Auden’s experience through his words. My emotions are those of loss, and having experienced it first hand, Auden powerfully unleashes the feelings locked in my own life, which are under the spotlight of my current relationships. My wife is indeed my North, my South, my East and West and that third verse encapsulates my own situation. Auden is speaking to me, but he is also speaking for me

An Audenary Tale is a tribute to the original, which is a masterpiece. It is intimidatingly good, and it was a challenge to take my love of the piece and lean on it to create my own. Embarking on my project I knew I could never recreate the powerful feelings of loss that Auden evokes, and that to make my work in the light of grief and loss was impossible. At best I could manage a rather lacklustre remake of a great original, which is something best left to Hollywood in my opinion.My tribute had to be different. The result is I took the challenge of my wife, which was to write positive things, to not only write about trauma from the past but to draw inspiration from the here and the now. Not to write, “happy stuff” but instead to use contemporary feelings, emotions and events to inspire my writing. The difference arises because the past is traumatic and the present is happy and contented. The challenge is to combine the past, the present and the transition between them in my creative journey.

 

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