Musée des Beaux Arts (Wystan 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 wîndow 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 Brueghel’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.