Friday, January 29, 2010

'Musee 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 Brueghel'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.

- W.H Auden

(a postscript for Greer).


  1. I'd semi-expected a J D Salinger post on today's Ghosty blog

  2. Understandable. Sorry to disappoint. If it's any consolation, I'll shove something Friday nightish up later.

  3. No disappointment at all..

    PS I'll be out tonight - blog-meet and all that..

  4. That's it, isn't it? Beautiful.

    There are still so many gaps in my reading MrH. Auden is a big one.


  5. I was able to pick up a copy this weekend. Thank you sir- it can be diffifult to know where to start x.

  6. Oh yes, my friend, how wonderful he was!

    Lay your sleeping head, my love,
    Human on my faithless arm;
    Time and fevers burn away
    Individual beauty from
    Thoughtful children, and the grave
    Proves the child ephemeral:
    But in my arms till break of day
    Let the living creature lie,
    Mortal, guilty, but to me
    The entirely beautiful.


  7. We could put together a splendid Wystan 'comp' dear boy.

  8. Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
    And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;

    Without doubt, old boy.

  9. can't beat a bit of auden picked up these 2 recently only got round to transcribing the larkin need to do wha.

  10. S'funny, I was thinking of Larkin as a future 'poem post' only today.


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