Inserting heart into the chill of a Venn diagram: mathematical, bureaucratic Venn becomes a Zen perception; lap dances slide into overlap chances; two bright notes coalesce into one dark tone.

I heart this graphic. It’s by the designer Aaron Krauss from a little corner of his website.


Here is a musical co-relative, Everytime We Say Goodbye. Cole Porter’s airy, nimble lyric is undercut by a remarkable sweet-sad melody, open to any number of readings. Over some years I collected around 17 versions of this song for a friend who loves this tune. Our joint favourite was, and remains, Chet Baker‘s intepretation. Recorded in his last year Baker might have been singing of a woman, or drugs, or happier memories, who can say? But you may hear in this pained rendition that – reversing the sense of the old Hindu dictum – whatever good comes, it too shall pass. (Our, very close, second favourite version is Annie Lennox‘s.)



And here, of course, is Auden‘s ‘Funeral Blues,’ made famous by the irresistibly sad scene in that funny funeral film.

I read somewhere ages ago that this was a parody of an elegy (it began as a satiric eulogy for a fallen leader in an early play), and certainly the hyperbole (‘all the clocks’) and sarcasm (‘I was wrong’) suggest how a comic might perform it. But it’s that ironic strategy – the little seed of kitsch that Auden left alone in his rewriting – that makes this verse such a success: it works straight-faced for those who would use Sting’s wicked ‘Every Breath You Take’ for their wedding song; and it works for those who are too self-conscious or guarded, or fragile, to embrace the admission of such a loss. And the ‘splendid old bugger,’ as Auden is described by Matthew in the film, did not even write in disguise and re-gender the verse …


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 the public 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 for ever: 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.


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