Ekphrasis (revised)

When reading the poem Musee des Beaux Arts, the first stanza talks generally about suffering and death and how it seems to go on no matter what everyone else is doing, time doesn’t stop, everyone continues to go along their daily routines because they know death will eventually come to them too.  The second stanza refers specifically, through ekphrasis, to the painting The Fall of Icarus, which reiterates that while Icarus was drowning in the water, no one noticed, they just kept on with their daily lives (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.”  Even though people on the ship probably saw Icarus falling, they didn’t stop to help, they kept on sailing to their destination.  This poem made me want to look up and see what the painting looked like, and after I re-read the poem, I can better understand what the poem was saying, (the ploughman may Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry, But for him it was not an important failure) fits perfect with the painting because it shows the ploughman continuing on his daily routine while disaster strikes in the background.  Could this be pointing to suffering by the author, could he be going through something personally himself and he is relating it to the same suffering in the painting of Icarus (i.e., mimesis — using “old” art to visualize one’s own present reality)? #vizpoem



Revised 6/24/15:

Ryan seemed to have the same opinion as I did about the poem/painting.  The poem describes how no one noticed when Icarus fell in the water and drowned, everyone else keep going about their daily lives.  I agree that the poem could also be about expressing a thought, maybe the author was speaking of himself as Icarus, no one paying attention to him in his own life and he compared that to the painting’s story.





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