I love the funeral scene in IT Crowd where Reynholm Industries’ 2IC prefaces his eulogy by saying with great solemnity: “I’d like to begin by reading a poem that I saw in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral.” The surface joke here (I think) is the incongruity of elevated oratory and pop culture, but the underlying point is that pop culture topples elevation (indeed it’s supposed to). What starts as a touching scene about love and death, in which a forgotten and somewhat ironic poem is dusted off, becomes a cliché of unreconstructed emotion, a kind of emoticon for feeling sad. When things are ‘popularised’ they lose their quality of exalted singularity, their holiness. The sheen of the coin is rubbed off in its wide circulation. The upside might be a democratic redistribution of wealth, but the flipside is that the gold is gone. What we love, we love to death.
So now I’d like to share with you a poem that I saw in the show IT Crowd.
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.