Monday, June 04, 2007

"...of no concern to the vast majority of Catholics..."

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.

WH Auden - Musée des Beaux Arts

1 comment:

Ttony said...

Something new from Auden: thanks!

Two points, though. I thought at first it was a slightly higher-blown piece of Moretbennery, not realising that it was somebody else's poem.

Second, imagine meeting this in a book without knowing the picture!

And a third thought: Icarus was accompanied by Daedalus. One fell (in this version, uncared for, unnoticed), but one arrived. The loss was grievous but not total. There was a future.