Saturday, May 31, 2008

a boy falling out of the sky

We read this poem yesterday while we viewed the painting which inspired it:

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

In tooling around the internet, I discovered a this: a poem about a poem about a painting!

According to Brueghel

when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling
near

the edge of the sea
concerned
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings' wax

unsignificantly
off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning

-William Carlos Williams

What always intrigues me is that the artists' handling of the subject (The Fall of Icarus, in this case) changes the meaning of the event entirely. It leaves me to wonder: How many miraculous things have taken place under my very nose, yet were unmarked by me!

Was I only opening a window, eating, or walking dully along--thinking I had somewhere to get to?

1 Comments:

Blogger eyestotheeast said...

intriguing thought - makes me want to be more observant =)

8:20 PM  

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