Monday, 25 January 2010

Charity shop

So, when I initially started the project to see how things went, I used this poem to had out in town as flyers. I got a really good response, with a couple of people coming back to ask me about it. I decided though, that it would be better to put the poems out in public without linking myself to them, if that makes sense. I like the idea of someone finding one on their own and being pleased with themselves. This poem means a lot to a lot of people, and anyone that has lost someone would, I think, find it powerful.
I decided to write it out as if it were a letter and hide it in coat pockets in a couple of charity shops on London Road. I thought that, if you bought a jacket and found it in the pocket, it would evoke all sorts of thoughts and feelings. (also, after by brief stint volunteering at Help the Aged when I was a teenager, finding things in the pockets of donated clothes and wondering where they came from was one of the best things ever).

The full poem:

W. H. Auden - Stop all the Clocks

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.


  1. I love this idea. There really is something special about stumbling across old and forgotten pieces of someone else's life and especially in their handwriting (or at least if it appears that way!!) have you thought about only giving part of the poem, this breakup might give the recipient another train of thoughts about the words they have received and about their meaning? it might even lead to people looking up the poem themselves?

    i think that idea has legs and it might even be nice to document someone's actual attachment to this poem?


  2. Yeh, with some of the later ones I tired out I only used a verse or two. I just thought that this one was so lovely as a whole!

    I initially used this one to give out as flyers in Brighton, and one woman took it, read it and immediately turned back to ask me about it. She said it was the poem that was read at her dad's funeral and she hadn't thought about it since then. She seemed pleased to have been reminded!

  3. This is such a nice idea. Someone left a passport photo of themselves hidden in my room in Phoenix Halls last year. Someone had found it before me and written a note on the back saying how they'd found it and that they hoped future residents of my room would enjoy living there. I left it in the same hiding place, hopefully to be found again.

    Also, you have lovely handwriting.

  4. aw wow. I think my little brother and I wrote our names on the wall in our old house so that future residents would know we were there. There's something nice about not knowing if anyone finds it, or what their reaction will be, because you will always think that someone will find it and that they will love it.
    Shay, you've given me an idea for another poem now! I might hide it in my house somewhere for future impoverished students. Maybe under the floorboards...