Poetry Friday: Musée Des Beaux Arts

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Musée Des Beaux Arts
by 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.

Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1526/1530–1569) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Pieter Brueghel the Elder (1526/1530–1569) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
 Please visit Linda at Teacher Dance for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

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4 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Musée Des Beaux Arts

  1. And you’ve found some true words in poetry, Catherine: “how it takes place
    While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking
    dully along;” Such a voice from Auden always, and the painting is life itself. Hugs for you, and thank you for sharing today.

    Like

  2. I’m listening to I AM MALALA right now, and this poem rings ever so true. How could I not have paid more attention when all that was happening? How can we not attend to all the sufferings of the world? And yet, how can we, and still live our one beautiful life…

    Like

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