Friday, September 21, 2007

Poetry Friday: Musee des Beaux Arts

Today's pick is a beautiful one from Atticus. He said that Musee des Beaux Arts, by W.H. Auden, reminds him "of a scene in Tess of the D'urbervilles in which Tess, in an abject state of misery, is sitting and leaning against the outside of a chimney of a small house for warmth. From inside the house, she hears the family preparing for their meal, utterly unmindful of her misery."

I'm also reminded of the grief of a dear old man with whom Atticus talked after Mass last week. As others -- including me -- chatted and laughed and caught up with one another, this dear man was breaking down, unable to escape the sadness he has felt since last spring, when he lost his wife of sixty-five years.

Grief and suffering are like that, as this poem so perfectly illustrates:

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;

The rest of the poem can be found here.

And the entire Poetry Friday round-up is here, at Read, Write, Believe.

9 comments:

Sara said...

I'm always interested in a poem that is written in response to great art. I think the two disciplines bring out the best in each other, and this one is no exception. Have you read "Words for Images: A Gallery of Poems"?


Thanks for giving me much to think about today.

Liz said...

Oh, Karen and Atticus,
Thank you for that one!

Kelly Fineman said...

That was a link well worth following, because seeing the painting paired with the poem added impact. (Sorry for the alliterative "P"s in there, it was accidental.)

literary safari said...

Another neat connection - art in response to a poem is Charles Demuth's "The Figure 5 in Gold" (1928), which was a response to William Carlos Williams's "The Great Figure." When I saw the piece at the Met, I somehow was dizzy with delight!

Atticus said...

Let's not forget Wallace Stevens' "Man with the Blue Guitar." Link:

http://www.dotcalmvillage.net/nowwhatzinesep02/legacysep.html

Diane said...

Thanks, Karen. I had never read the poem, nor seen the painting. Very touching and thoughtful. One artist making sense of---and adding to---another. So much to learn when I come here.

It made me think of the day my mother died. My youngest brother was nine and wanted to pitch in his little league game anyway, as if nothing had happened. My siblings and I sat numb on the bleachers, while people around us chatted and laughed and yelled and cheered. How could life possibly continue like that when our whole world had just collapsed? A surreal moment I'll never forget.

And now I'm off to check the link from Atticus...

Liz in Ink said...

This is a lovely piece. It makes walking around in the world feel a bit different, doesn't it...

Beck said...

What a beautiful post. And that poem is one of my favorites, too.

Susan said...

That is a neat one, Karen. I like what little of Auden I've read.