Painting: Beaux-arts Architecture and Poem Essay example

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Musée des Beaux Arts Critical Analysis The title Musée des Beaux Arts is French for 'Museum of Fine Arts', and references the one that holds the painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus. This whole poem is built off references, Auden may be the speaker, but the poem doesn't really show his voice, only his observations, it must be in third-person. This poem also doesn't use a lot of hidden meaning, which is quite different from most popular poems. Allusions are present, some metaphors, but it's very straightforward. The poem starts off, almost as if he was in the middle of a story. “About the suffering they were never wrong./ The Old Masters:” (21.1-2), considering the poems connection to the painting, it can be assumed that 'The Old Masters' alludes to its dictionary meaning “an eminent artist of an earlier period, especially from the 15th to the 18th centuries (old master.)”. Then goes on to state “how well they understood/ Its human position” (21.2-3), the painters completely understood how suffering affects humans, how people deal with tragedy. Already the poem can be connected to the painting, but the next line “how it takes place / While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along” (21.3-4) really reflects the tone of the painting. Icarus is shown dying, but everyone else is 'walking dully along'. The next lines represent the opposite of tragedy, but also notes the human characteristics that remain the same in both tragedy and blessings.
“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: (21.5-8)” Using a historical strategy 'the miraculous birth' may have ties to religion, maybe the birth of Jesus. Although the poem is not especially old, it's main reference (the painting) is from the 16th century. The author did just visit the Museum of Fine Arts before writing the poem (Musee des Beaux Arts: W.H. Auden - Summary and Critical Analysis), so he was surrounded with historical art. Then saying that the children didn't really care shows that even during the birth of Jesus, they couldn't be bothered. Basically the point is that one persons miracles and tragedies mean absolutely nothing to the next. Speaking about the Old Masters again. “They never forget/ That even the dreadful martydom must run its course (21.8-10)”, basically says that the painters understand that even tragedy soon becomes forgotten, even extreme suffering such that of a martydom The next lines compare human naivety to being an animal , “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 a tree (21.11-13)”, it creates the image of humans ignoring conflict around and going about their life, just as animals aren't phased by the untidiness around them. The torturer’s horse scratching in innocence behind the tree, is like humans brushing off the wrongs they witness like they don't know any better. In the painting there are many animals, even including a horse and dog, and just like the people, they are unfazed by Icarus drowning. Finally the next stanza starts to directly address the painting. It starts with “In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away/ Quite leisurely from the disaster: (21.14-15)”, the poem has been building up to this reference; referring to Brueghel as an Old Master , Brueghel's painting did in fact show suffering just as Auden previously described. The next lines are a perfect example of what Auden meant by 'dogs go on with their doggy life', “The ploughman may/ Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,/ But for him it was not an important failure;” (21.15-17) The difference here though, is that a dog may bark at such an instance, but the plowman chose to ignore, chose to appear ignorant. In the painting it appears the ploughman is