'Exit the Museum of Arts'

a poem of art criticism

As to suffering, mid-20th century British poets

   Were sometimes a little bit off the mark:

How the world is full of life and 'even the dreadful martyrdom'

   Is an unimportant corner of it all;

And it is sometimes the expensive and delicate that is destroyed

   While the rain still falls in the dreary British climate.

The monotonous indifference of a matured culture, soon to be post-Imperial,

   Even the spectacular photograph of the amazing memorable destruction and grief,

Is only a slight dark shadow upon the infinite summer.

   That the glory of real life is its overwhelming indifference to martyrdom or squalor or accident,

Having a few other concerns as it does, always.

Consider Brueghel's 'Fall of Icarus' - just look at the whole things:

   The plowman is attentive to his furrough;   but is that contour plowing that he's doing?

      Centuries before the post-Dust-Bowl USDA ?

      Or is it just whimsical un-rectilinear construction?

      Or was it Brueghel's invention, the pretty curves, not what he saw?

Is the castle a rock or is the rock a castle?

Who is the man on the rocks waving to? What breed is the shepherd's dog?

   And does it exist nowadays?

The shepherd himself looks upward - does he see the sky,

   Or Daedalus flying onward, surely a greater marvel

   To tell the tavern at a dull quiet moment? Or is he simply wondering if it will rain?

What city are the ships sailing off to?

   Did it ever exist, or is this also fanciful, a real shepherd, dog, sheep, plowman & horse,

      But the rest, including Icarus

A matter of mythology?

In that case you'd have to retitle it all, and say it's

   'A Fancy Mythological Background To The Beautiful Commonplace That's Real'   -?

Somewhere a splashy melodrama of sought martyrdom

   Falls from the sky, but little cares cluster and scatter,

The small vitality tries to be bigger, more sensible people suffer but live.

The dull weather goes on unimportantly

   In '40s England, and expensive, delicate

   Coventry Cathedral

Is what falls, while any number of boys do not,

But set sail off elsewhere to a soft landing at last.

Pity keeps the soul aloft after a fashion,

But life is what lands us safely down to earth.

[(c) Monday May 27 2002 by Russell Hess.]


    'Still Falls The Rain'
    'Musee des Beaux Arts' (W. H. Auden)
    'Infinite Summer' (Christopher Priest)

- Page created June 12-13-14 and tweaked September 17 2002, by Russell Hess, Webmaster (hess1@bigfoot.com) of 'UpSky2' & 'UpSky'.

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