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Musee Des Beaux Arts

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Meredith Whitaker

on 3 December 2014

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Transcript of Musee Des Beaux Arts

Thesis
Title
Stanza 2
Conclusion
W.h auden uses literary devices (allusion, juxtaposition) and form to convey his comments on humanity's apathy.
The Poem
Musee des Beaux Arts
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.
Musee Des Beaux Arts
w.H auden

The Narrative
Painters accurately illustrate humans lives
The Meaning
Everyone is focused on their own lives and goals, so they become apathetic towards other's lives or global events.*
W.H. Auden's "Musee des Beaux Arts" uses allusion to provide context and specificity in regards to his meaning, juxtaposition to contrast ordinary events with important ones, and free verse form to create irony. These techniques reinforce Auden's meaning: humanity is apathetic towards other's suffering or joy, because they are consumed with their own lives.
Speaker is viewing the painting as he is writing.

He is fully absorbed in what he is seeing.

Written in third person
None of his own thoughts or references to himself.
Musee des Beaux Arts- The Brussels Museum of Fine Arts
The Landscape of the Fall of Icarus is housed here
Allusion!

Stanza 1
Form
Lyric Poem: "Subjective, reflective poetry with regular rhyme scheme and meter, which reveals poets thoughts and feelings, to create a single, unique impression."
Hectic rhyme scheme in 1st stanza of 14 lines (ABCDAEFEBGHGHF)
Hectic meter in both stanzas
Written in 3rd person
Figurative Language
Paraphrase
The Old Master Painters understood the nuances of humanity and suffering, how there are always people who are left unaffected by someone's suffering or joyous situation
Allusion
"The Old Masters"- European artists, pre-1800s, who's work has stayed popular for centuries due to their beauty and technical skill
Examples: Da Vinci, Raphael, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Goya
"Miraculous Birth"- biblical allusion to the birth of Christ
Imagery
"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."
Juxtaposition
"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:" (I.7-9)
is this a lyric poem?
No, it's a free verse
Enjambment
"Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree."
1 sentence
With a lot of punctuation typically in the middle of lines
"Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
Simple, no fuss diction
Matter of fact tone

Paraphrase
Breughel's painting illustrates Auden's meaning created in the first stanza, some onlooker's of the event are aware of it, others are too busy carrying on their own lives.
Form

Stanza break
Change in rhyme scheme
The patterns Auden previously established continue
enjambment
simple diction
1 sentence
Cleaner rhyme scheme
IIJKLLKJK
However it still lacks meter
Stanza 2 acts as evidence to back up Auden's claim in the first stanza
"In Breughel's Icarus, for instance:" (II.14)
Figurative language
Allusion
"In Breughel's Icarus, for instance:" (II.14)
Alludes to the painting
Gives the readers evidence that people are apathetic towards the tragedy of the event, because they have their own lives to carry on.
"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;" (II.14-17)
"and the expensive and delicate ship that must have seen Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on." (II.19-21).
Icarus (Greek Myth)
"Son of Daedalus who dared to fly too near the sun on wings of feathers and wax... He [Daedalus] made two pairs of wings by adhering feathers to a wooden frame with wax. Giving one pair to his son, he cautioned him that flying too near the sun would cause the wax to melt. But Icarus became ecstatic with the ability to fly and forgot his father's warning. The feathers came loose and Icarus plunged to his death in the sea," (mythweb.com).
Imagery
Description of the painting
Juxtaposition
Juxtaposes important and tragic events with quiet day-to-day activities
Reference to the ship calmly sailing on-having somewhere it needs to go
Shift
Whether they are suffering or joyous, they can convey these emotions and
how other's react to these.
"About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position:" (I. 1-3)
*The allusions to art are vessels for conveying this meaning
Musee des Beaux Arts
Allusion to paintings, and events give the poem context and give the reader a better understanding, by referencing Breughel's "The Landscape of the Fall of Icarus, he is able to combine a tragic event and an artists depiction of the event into one- which aids his point.
Juxtaposition creates contrast between normal events and extraordinary ones
Form creates irony by making the poem seem nonchalant when the subject matter is actually very serious
So maybe, what Auden really wants is for us to be a little less apathetic and have some empathy for those around us and those who are ignored.
overall, auden means to make a comment about apathy that humans have towards events because he feels it is very prevalent. he wishes for more empathy and caring versus being only focused on your life.
Works Cited
"Auden, Musée Des Beaux Arts." Auden, Musée Des Beaux Arts. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2014.
Digital image. Http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c2/Pieter_Bruegel_de_Oude_-_De_val_van_Icarus.jpg/1024px-Pieter_Bruegel_de_Oude_-_De_val_van_Icarus.jpg. N.p., n.d. Web.
"Encyclopedia of Greek Mythology: Icarus." Encyclopedia of Greek Mythology: Icarus. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Dec. 2014.
"Landscape with the Fall of Icarus." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Nov. 2014. Web. 01 Dec. 2014.
""Musee Des Beaux Arts" by W H Auden (read by Tom O'Bedlam)." YouTube. YouTube, 6 Aug. 2009. Web. 29 Nov. 2014.
"THE OLD MASTERS: Who Are The Old Masters? - Long Wharf Theatre." THE OLD MASTERS: Who Are The Old Masters? - Long Wharf Theatre. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Nov. 2014.
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