Musee Des Beaux Arts: by Auden || Summary and Analysis

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Introduction:

      Musee Des Beaux Arts (The museum of fine arts) was written by Auden during his winter sojourn in Brussels in 1938. It is one of the most celebrated short poems of Auden.

      Auden was inspired by the paintings of Brueghel, the Italian painter of the sixteenth century, which he saw during his stay in the winter of 1938 in Brussels. Although Icarus forms the centre of the poem, Auden draws his imagery from the other two paintings of Brueghel also. The Numbering at Bethlehem and The Massacre of the Innocents. The thought of these two paintings supports the man argument that Auden develops in his short lyrical piece.

      Auden shows a deep critical insight into the art of painting in choosing to make this fact the central argument of his poem.

      Human suffering according to the poet, is a strange. phenomenon in that it evokes so little sympathy or even empathy in Kindred breasts.

"how it takes place"

      While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walkin dully along .... This poem shows that Auden even can invade the landscape in a painting to isolate the moral point. Indeed, Auden quite frankly admits that "what interests me most about a painting is its iconography". The poet with a laconic casualness makes a searching and moving observation on human suffering.

Musee Des Beaux Arts (The museum of fine arts) was written by Auden during his winter sojourn in Brussels in 1938. It is one of the most celebrated short poems of Auden.
Musee Des Beaux Arts

Summary

      Auden begins the lyric by praising the painters of old, like Brueghels, who understood the nature of suffering and humanity's indifference to it. This fact is well-illustrated by a number of paintings of the famous painter of Flanders. His painting shows that he realised that while individuals suffer, the daily routine of life goes on as usual undisturbed. People eat and drink and enjoy, the dogs continue to live their lives as usual, and children continue to play unconcerned even in the midst of such a great tragedy as the crucifixion of christ.

      Human suffering, according to the poet, is a strange phenomenon in that it evokes so little sympathy or even empathy in kindred breasts.

How it Takes Place:

      The imagery of lines 5-7 is drawn from Brueghel's. The Numbering of Bethelhen. The aged 'reverently' wait for the 'miraculous birth' of Christ since they believe in it whereas there are children, who do not want it to happen and keep skating joyously 'on a pond at the edge of the wood'.

      The contrast in the lines between the aged and the children with their attitude of indifference is highly and subtly ironical. Normally is the young who look forward to the future with expectation and the old become pessimistic. The last unit of the poem has Brueghers Icasrus at its centre. Icasrus the ambitious Greek youth, tried to reach the sun with the aid of the wings of wax. He could fly only to some distance, the wings melted in the heat of the sun and Icasrus crushed to the ground and met his end. The tragedy occurred in idyllic surroundings but everything there ignored it. The ploughman who heard the splash and the agonising cry of pain did not consider it a important failure. The sun shore on a pair of white legs disappearing into the green water as the ship which saw the boy fall out of the s sailed bisurely along. The paintings fully bring out the indifference or humanity to individual suffering. It is taken as a matter of routine. This moral has been drawn by Auden from the painted scenery. Auden has universalizes the truth of callous indifference to suffering of the modern humanity by referring to the imagery of Brueghels paintings.

Critical Appreciation

      Muses Des Beaux Arts is one of Auden's most celebrated short poems. In this poem Auden creates an implied drama by presenting a dramatic monologue. Here he shows the mind is divided against itself. The poem studies the place of suffering in life, and Auden makes his point by talking he reader with him into the dramatic situation of Brughel's Icarus.

      The poem begins by praising the painters of old, like Brughels, who understood the nature of suffering and humanity's indifference to it. The painting shows that he realised that while individuals suffer, the daily routine of life goes on as usual undisturbed. People eat, drink and enjoy, the dogs continue to live their lives as usual, and children continue to play unconcerned even in the midst of such a great tragedy as the crucifixion of Christ, some devout and religions minded people may care for Christ, but people in general is not much interested either in the birth Christ or his crucifixion. This general indifference is clearly brought out by two paintings of Brueghels - one depicting the birth of Christ and the other his crucifixion. In the later painting as Christ is crucified, the crucifier's horse goes on rubbing his behind against a tree. It means that instinct is of much more importance to general public. The humanity with feeling is quite rare.

      The third picture shows falling of Icarus from the sky into the sea. No effort is made to save the boy who was falling. The painting depicts the indifference of humanity to individual suffering. Auden has drawn this moral in his poem. The moral has been universalized by referring to the imagery of Brueghels paintings. The indifference of humanity to the suffering of others remain same. Humanity was indifferent to the suffering of others. At a later date humanity is equally indifferent when Christ was crucified, and it is equally indifferent to-day. Auden has universalizes this human condition by, using the imagery of the paintings as "objective co-relative".

Conclusion:

      Musee Des Beaux Arts is Auden's most celebrated short poem. It is a beautiful lyrical poem which contains the music and harmony of a casual but compact piece of conversation. Though casual in tone the poem has an impact on the mind of the reader with its arguments along with music Auden has developed his arguments quite in an ironical and detached manner.

      The tone of the poem is markedly easy and conversational. We are stenting to the poet thinking aloud. Auden in this poem is self-consciously personal which is a part of his style. This style in this poem has enabled him to bring the private into contact with the public.

      The contrast in the lines between the aged and the children with their attitude of indifference is highly and subtly ironical. Normally it is the young who look forward to the future with the expectation and the old become pessimistic. Auden reverses the situation to make it ironical. Irony also lies in the fact that childhood, a stage of innocence should be indifferent to the birth of Christ. Nature is indifferent to the most momentous of human sacrifices and suffering.

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