Monday, July 28, 2008

Musée des Beaux Arts

A nod to Garrison Keillor for his APR/NPR program The Writer's Almanac. We always seem to miss it on the radio in the early morning. So, we signed up for the email delivery & listen to it later. It's the most peaceful five minutes of the day.

Musée des Beaux Arts

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.

"Musée des Beaux Arts" by W.H. Auden from W H Auden: The Collected Poems. © Random House, Inc, 1976. Reprinted with permission. (painting via University of Queensland, Australia)