Saturday, September 4, 2010

Musée des Beaux-Arts - a poem by W.H.Auden



On one of the blogs I follow Whistling which is such a marvellous potpourri of poetry, cooking,and everything else under the sun, but one name echoes from the past and that is e e cummings, who was'nt into capitals or punctuation by the way. But I'm not going to spout him in this instance but it brought up another memory of a poem by W.H.Auden, (something I did at college) the poem is really I suspect about the futility of our lives, but then he was a miserable creature... The legend Auden refers is of course Icarus who flew too close to the sun and got his wings burnt and fell to the sea below.
The painting by Breughul highlights the indifference of all those that may, or may not have been aware of the small tragedy of Icarus's downfall. Auden of course muses on this indifference, a reflection of the world today maybe, we are saturated by bad news and unable to take it all in, not necessarily an indifference to suffering but an overwhelming feeling that there is nothing to be done.....


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.



A photo from yesterday, whenever I am miserable, someone takes me down to a river, (not to drown me but for a soothing walk ;), the underwater world of plants never fail to ground me, especially the fish swimming or coming to the surface and creating ripples as they rise for insects.... ...

Soliloquoies of a Chalk Giant by Jeremy Hooker

Kinship by Seamus Heaney

Bog Queen - Seamus Heaney

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for the hat tip, Thelma. The image from the river is lovely, as is the Auden poem. And how beautiful the picture of the plovers is!

    Miss W

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