Death and Nature in "Musée Des Beaux Arts"

Topics: Poetry, Old age, Beaux-Arts architecture Pages: 3 (1267 words) Published: January 29, 2007
W.H. Auden's poem "Musée des Beaux Arts", which is "Museum of Beautiful Arts" when translated into English, is more about death and it's normal, spontaneous occurrence than it is about a museum. The poem speaks of "old Masters" and refers to artists: writers, poets, and painters who understood the act of death as a necessary process instead of making excuses for it, using personification to cope with it, or sugar-coating it. These "old Masters" did not see the need to justify death or find a way to make it easier through embellishment. Although the poet uses a sort of free verse with unstructured rhyme and varying line length he still captures the meaning and conveys his point while keeping the poem unified. The scattered rhymes and the lack of specific meter keep the poem from getting to sing-song which is very fitting considering the subject matter. The poem starts out "About suffering they were never wrong, the old Masters: how well they understood" and we see that there is a group of people from the past that were wise, but we are not specifically told what it was that they understood. In fact, we are never explicitly told to what the "it" in the next line; "Its human position: how it takes place" actually refers. This we must figure out for our own, and based on the poem as a whole we can ascertain that the speaker is referring to the act of dying, death, and loss. We now know that those masters that came before us understood and revered death. The speaker refers to the "human position" of death and in the next five lines he illustrates the randomness of death; that even while there are many elderly people eagerly awaiting the next life, sometimes children are robbed of the present one. The poem at this point is not cruel or blaming but merely explains the fact that death does not intelligently pick and choose; nature has a role in it. "Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating/ On a pond at the edge of the wood", here children...
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