Dover Bitch

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Arc of Icarus

This is going to be an extremely busy few days for DB, with another voyage scheduled later in the week. Just in case I won't be able to post anything, as usual, I offer a poem. This one is dedicated to Glenn Greenwald, whose excellent book A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency arrived in my mailbox this week. I'll write more about it when I finish reading it. So far, I find it to be as methodical and damning an accounting of the Bush administration's disastrous tenure as the best posts on Glenn's blog, Unclaimed Territory at Salon.

Here's a poem for all Dover Bitch readers, picked out for you, Glenn:

Musee des Beaux Arts
by W.H. 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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