This is an extract from the first edition of The Ascent of F6, a play written by W H Auden and Christopher Isherwood. The Ascent of F6 tells the story of the climber Michael Ransom, who becomes the leader of an expedition to the peak of F6, located in the imaginary country of Ostina. This excerpt shows one of the songs that W H Auden wrote for the play, the now iconic ‘Stop all the clocks’. A substantially modified version of the song later appeared in Auden’s collection Another Time in 1940.
Auden and Isherwood had already worked on another play together, The Dog Beneath the Skin, which like The Ascent of F6 was performed by the Group Theatre.
‘Stop all the clocks’ became one of Auden’s best-known poems after it was popularised in the British film Four Weddings and a Funeral. This early version has five stanzas rather than four, and only the first two stanzas were kept in the final version of the poem.
- Full title:
- The ascent of F6 / Wystan Hugh Auden and Christopher Isherwood
- Faber & Faber
- Book / Playscript
- W H Auden,
- Usage terms
W H Auden: Copyright © 1936 by W.H. Auden, renewed.
Reprinted by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.
Except as otherwise permitted by your national copyright laws this material may not be copied or distributed further.
Christopher Isherwood: Copyright © Katherine Bucknell and Don Bachardy 2012, used by permission of The Wylie Agency (UK) Limited. Except as otherwise permitted by your national copyright laws this material may not be copied or distributed further.
- Held by
- British Library
- Article by:
- Seamus Perry
- Literature 1900–1950
'Funeral Blues', also known as 'Stop all the Clocks', is perhaps now most famous for its recitation in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral, but its first audience encountered it as part of a play. Seamus Perry discusses the poem and its place in The Ascent of F6, co-authored by W H Auden and Christopher Isherwood.
- Article by:
- Valentine Cunningham
- Literature 1900–1950, Capturing and creating the modern
Auden loved all kinds of music, from opera and nursery rhymes to blues and Berlin cabaret. Here Valentine Cunningham explores Auden’s musical influences and considers how music helped to produce some of his most subversive work.