Post photo: Enjoying coffee | © Pixabay
In times like these, you should, yes, you have to take the time to look for poems that can help you personally and maybe even spiritually. I found such a poem in the New York Times today. Elisa Gabbert wrote on March 6, 2022 under the caption “A Poem (and a Painting) About the Suffering That Hides in Plain Sight' about a poem by WH Auden, which he wrote in Brussels in 1938 in view of the impending Second World War.
I had posted this poem on one of my websites a few years ago and wondered why it got so little attention from readers. Probably the time was simply not yet ripe to deal with this poem in more detail.
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 births, there must always be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forget
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 awayWH AUDEN (December 1938)
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 shines
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.
So today I was more than pleasantly surprised when I read the discussion of this poem by Elisa Gabbert was allowed to read. This review alone is worth subscribing to The New York Times.
And still very much impressed by this review, I dare not comment on this poem either. So I can only recommend everyone not only to read the poem, but also to make the effort and read the related review by Gabbert.
About WH Auden one can report very briefly that he was born British, took US citizenship in 1946, was married to a German woman and became part-time Austrian in the last years of his life, where he is also buried.