Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Day 137: Life Goes On



Strange isn't it, how death, that greatest leveller of all, can go by so unnoticed. Just like suffering. No matter what happens, no matter how terrible and how sad, life goes on.
 
Life. Goes. On.
 
And most of the time, so do people. (I was confronted by this stark reality in my own life today, after the death of a relative was brushed off with a casual dismissive 'oh sure, there's always something' from another relative. ? Why do some of us have that horribly indifferent attitude to death, and suffering??)
 
Anyway, made me think of this poem by WH Auden, based on Breughel's painting of 'The Fall of Icarus' - 'how everything turns away quite leisurely from the disaster.' Note how the fall to his death is presented so minutely in the painting (you have to search to see where Icarus plunges into the water) - while life around him, goes calmly on.  Death is in the background, while life is in the foreground.
 
As it is.
 
 

Museé des Beaux Arts - WH Auden

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 birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
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 away
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 shone
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.

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