The poem, “Musee des Beaux Arts” written by Auden, is a poem that explores how people respond to tragedy and the struggles that they go through in life experiences. The poem’s title is French for ‘Museum of Fine Arts’ which is located in Brussels. The poem is written in a way that it seems that it is two separate poems. “Musee des Beaux Arts” is a poem written in free verse. This means that the poem is “free” of meter, regular rhythm, or a rhyme scheme. This poem has varying line lengths and an irregular rhyme pattern.
In Auden’s poem, his long irregular lines, subtly enforced by the irregular end rhyme pattern, create a casual, conversational air more prosaic than poetic. The casual, easy-going argument the tone suggests is ironic for the topic of discussion, the human position and its seeming indifference to suffering, is anything but light and easygoing. Auden’s poem is distinguished by two parts which relate to one another much like the octave and sestet of a sonnet. The poem is marked by a definite break or turn in thought.Order now
The first thirteen lines of the poem introduce the poem’s theme and discuss it in general term, while the second half of the poem develops and illustrates the general idea with a specific example. In the poem “Musee des beaux arts,” the line which starts “In Brueghels’s Icarus….. ” seems to interrupt the flow of the whole poem, nearly making it two separate poems. The poet mentions in his poem that most great artists only notice the details they want and what is pleasing to their eyes. These artists put there focus only on what they find important and not the whole story.
The poet observed that the focus of the painting was on the sun, the delicate ship and the green water, with Icarus in the background drowning. In “Musee des Beaux Arts”, Auden is comparing Icarus to a martyr suffering, or is making a point about suffering itself, that suffering takes place while someone else is eating, or opening a window, like the farmer in the field while Icarus was drowning. Auden’s poem “Musee des Beaux Arts” gives a simple, yet accurate description of the Brueghel’s painting “The Fall of Icarus.
The way the poet describes the painting would make it easy for anyone who hadn’t seen the painting to understand the scene being depicted. This poem seems to me to be depressing in a way because it appears that Auden has come to a realization that people don’t care or don’t take the time to notice when someone is suffering or when someone has died. Everyone from his point of view seems to act as if they are aloof to any such thing entirely. I also think that Auden is telling us how unfortunate he feels it is when the unprepared, innocent people die, and the long-lived, well prepared to die people, don’t.
This poem had some great references in it such as the imagery it created. I did find the poem a bit depressing by the way it slammed human nature. Auden tells us that suffering “takes place / while someone else is eating or opening a window or just / walking dully along. ” In other words, an individual’s greatest moments of suffering, tribulation and (by extension) triumphs are widely ignored by others. Not only do others not care, but in most cases they don’t even notice. The suggestion is that one should do things for one’s self, not for recognition or appreciation from others since that will likely never come.
The significance of Icarus’ flight and fall are entirely lost on all but him and his father. Another point Auden may be making is that we should be less focused on ourselves in order to appreciate/learn from others rather than always focus on our arguably less significant lives, like plowing fields. Perhaps then we could learn something from Icarus’ ill-fated attempts at flight. Then again, most of us will never attempt to fly nor find need of the lessons Icarus could teach us – more evidence that if one doesn’t appreciate what one’s doing, life quickly loses any significance we might want to attribute to it.