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Musée des Beaux Arts

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Musée des Beaux Arts
W. H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • 4CYNDI
    Very thought provoking. Thanks for sharing.
    3476 days ago
    Thank you for sharing this thought provoking poem and painting.
    3477 days ago
    Breughel is one of my favorites and yes, his compositions are repeatedly like this - for example his Way to Golgotha (which may not be the title, but it's what the painting is about) in which you could easily miss Christ carrying the cross...
    I had read the Auden poem - great to be reminded of it.
    3477 days ago
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