Read the Poem. Musée des Beaux Arts. by W.H. Auden. About suffering they were never wrong, The old Masters: how well they understood. Its human position. Auden’s Musée des Beaux Arts. By Scott Horton. Share. Single Page. Print Page. brueghel-census. About suffering they were never wrong. Musee des Beaux Arts is a poem that focuses on human suffering, tragedy and pain by contrasting the lives of those who suffer and those who.

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Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes. Subscribers can find additional help here. About suffering they were never wrong, The Old Masters: In Decemberon a visit to Brussels, W. It was a tense time in Belgium and the world. Madness was afoot in Europe, and many, including Auden, sensed the imminent outbreak of a great conflagration.

The culture that had existed in Europe up to that moment would perish and a new one would be born. Some elements of the past would be salvaged, of course. Some aspects of European culture have a knack for surviving conflagrations. So what, exactly, is W. Early in the spring, I was in Brussels, and I stole some time from my schedule to go to the museum, specifically to see this painting.

It requires being scrutinized up close, in that red-walled room in the center of Brussels. And it rewards those who take the time to look and ponder. Brueghel is a wonder, a man of highly idiosyncratic talents.

His contemporaries across the Alps were producing figures filled with mythological allegories, men in heroic poses with impressive musculature; women with voluptuous and seductive bodies. They are clad only with so much cloth as the rules of modesty commanded, if even that. The figures seem superdimensional, as if they were deities or demigods of the classical age.

Brueghel we know traveled to Italy to view these works, but what is there to show for it in his art? He is driven by a different passion, namely to show his life and society as it actually is. His glance is unforgiving. He catalogues what stands about him—the merchants, the children, men and women of common society. They lead quiet, simple, suffering lives.

They are not arrayed in brilliant damask, but in coarse wool and fustian. They seek out simple pleasures, though these are brief respites in a life filled with cold, disease and deprivation. As Brueghel writes, his homeland suffers under the boot of foreign oppression.

Suspicions of heresy drive brutality, beatings, murders, executions. Whole villages are razed. Brueghel chronicles this suffering, and the commitment of his people to persevere in the face of it—indeed to house one of the great outpourings of artistic creativity that European culture had known to that point. But which sends us today the stronger message of honesty and humanity? Which is essentially a time capsule about his age?

Auden, Musée des Beaux Arts

Certainly it is Brueghel. But the work has to be taken in as a panorama first, museee its total impact, then deconstructed to its elements. The first thing that strikes the viewer is the extraordinary bright white in the picture. It provides a powerful contrast for the people, the buildings, the animals that populate the painting, and for the hazy winter sky with the mysterious red-orange setting sun on the horizon.


Then colors pop out of the bleak winter scene. There is a stream of color flowing across the canvas in the clothing of the subjects—an unusual scarlet, a rich green, a warm ochre. But is this painting really a religious work?

Auden’s Musée des Beaux Arts | Harper’s Magazine

Other artists portraying the dangerous trip by Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem for the census show the nativity itself, focusing on the adoration of the Christ child or the wondrous visit of the Magi. One could almost overlook that aspect of the painting. Indeed, it is not of the Holy Land, but of a village in Flanders, filled with the life and scenes that Brueghel knew so well. Children play on a frozen stream. A butcher prepared to slaughter a hog, furnishing the meat that the census-taker will offer to those who subscribe.

That house bears an official seal near its door: Or could it not be both at the same time? But there in the center of the painting is Mary, and a short distance ahead of her, Joseph. The villagers are, all of them, busy about their affairs. None seems to stop to notice the arrival of the Holy Family; their focus is elsewhere.

Brueghel is driven by irony. In fact they are consumed by their quotidian lives, they anticipate nothing. But this is the special genius of Brueghel—he casts a sharp eye on the life of a village.

And in everything he sees the misery and harshness of human existence, but also the potential for something better. His images are remarkably precise, they are unforgiving, they seem quickly executed. But there is always something of the spirit of the moment and of the person captured in them. Can we really say that about the carefully staged graciousness of the Renaissance masters of Italy?

Brueghel disregards the rules of form that the church would have him obey: The divine status of the Virgin Mary should be signaled. But for Brueghel, the Holy Family is marked by its normalcy; they are a part of the village scene. The activities of the village swirl about them, not sensitive to the miracle about to unfold.

And so, in Decemberdoes Auden, in a gallery in Brussels. And as the season of Advent commences anew with a promise of hope but dreary news in the headlines, I wish my readers a bit of warmth from the mysterious flame that lights this bleak wintery landscape. The donna eletta is, of course, the Virgin Mary. Conversation — August 5, Conversation — March 30,3: ContextNo Comment — August 28, Liberal democracies would soon encircle the globe, thanks to the innovations of Silicon Valley.

At the time, most everyone thought Reagan was right. The twentieth century had been dominated by media that delivered the same material to millions of people at the same time—radio and newspapers, movies and television. Now, however, Americans were catching sight of the internet. They believed that it would do what earlier media could not: Corporations, industries, and even whole nations would soon be transformed as centralized authorities were demolished.

Hierarchies would dissolve and peer-to-peer collaborations would take their place. I had been fighting for sixteen months in Kurdish territory in northern Syria when in April I was asked to leave my position on the eastern front, close to the Turkish border, and join an advance on our southwestern one. In January, after more than four months of fighting street-to-street and room-by-room, we recaptured the town and reversed what was, until then, an unstoppable jihadi tide.


As we set out to the north, I could make out the snowy peaks in southern Turkey where they say Noah once beached his ark. Below them, rolling toward us, were the wide, grassy valleys and pine forests of Mesopotamia, the land between the Euphrates and the Tigris where our people have lived for twelve thousand years.

The story of my people is filled with bitter ironies. Though the rest of the world audem largely overlooks that it was Kurds who were among the first to create a civilization, the evidence is there.

They found a structure flanked by stone pillars carved with bulls, foxes, and cranes, which they dated to around 10, bce. At the auxen of the last Ice Age, and seven thousand years before the erection of Stonehenge or the pyramids at Giza, my ancestors were living together as shamans, artists, farmers, and engineers. T o get oriented here is difficult.

The light is flat because the sky is overcast. Far-off objects like mountain peaks have crisp edges because the atmosphere itself is as transparent as first-water diamonds, but the mountains are not nearly as close as they seem.

Four of the six people living here are in their tents now, next to their cookstoves, two by two, warming up and preparing their suppers.

Against the porcelain whites of this gently sloping landscape, I must appear starkly apparent in my cobalt blue parka and wind pants. I shift slowly right and left, lean slightly forward, then settle back, trying to get the fluxless sunlight to reveal more of the shape and texture of the object. France is an independent country, more or less, and will become totally independent once again when the European Union is dissolved the sooner, the better.

They signify dedication, address, homage, imitation. The little difference makes a big difference, emphasizing collaboration over the economy of the gift, suggesting jusee the poet and his company are fellow travelers, in the same time zone, alongside each other in the present tense of composition.

Musée des Beaux Arts (poem)

Estimated number of times in the Fall of that George Bush told a joke about his dog asking for a wine list with her Alpo:. Migrant children were teargassed; carbon dioxide levels have reached three to five million year high; missionary killed by remote tribe.

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