The Fall of Icarus

Fall of Icarus by Bruegel

There are times in one’s life when that life and the elusive meaning of a poem seem to coincide.  For me, now is such a time.

 

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.

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One Response to “The Fall of Icarus”

  1. The Fall of Icarus « Realidad Alternativa Says:

    […] There are times in one’s life when that life and the elusive meaning of a poem seem to coincide.  For me, now is such a time.   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 w … Read More […]

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