PoetryW.H. Auden

Analysis of “Musée des Beaux Arts” by W.H. Auden

3 Mins read

“Musée des Beaux Arts” is written in free verse, which means that the poem is actually “free” of meter, regular rhythm, or a rhyme scheme. The poem is split into two parts, an octave and a sestet, the octave rhyming “abbaabba‟ and the sestet normally rhyming “cdecde‟, free verse employs varying line lengths and an irregular rhyming pattern, typically shunning a rhyme scheme altogether.

In Auden’s lyric, the lengthy irregular lines, subtly enforced by the irregular end rhyme style, create an informal, conversational air extra prosaic than poetic, and a considerably blasé tone which is reflective of the benign world illustrated in Brueghel‟s artwork. The informal, simple going argument the tone suggests is ironic for the subject of discussion, the human status and its seeming indifference to struggling, is something however gentle and straightforward going.

Read About: Analysis of “The Unknown Citizen” by W.H. Auden

The poem ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’ by W.H. Auden preserve his language fairly easy and simple and construct up a reasonably elaborated network of references and allusions to put, individuals and issues behind the scene. In the start, there’s an allusion of the “miraculous birth” i.e. the birth of Christ. The smart persons are proven ready for that time and within the final stanza of the poem, the reference to the myth of Daedalus and his son Icarus is given.

Auden’s tone within the poem is measured, precise, and matter-of-fact. He doesn’t use superfluous phrases or stick with conventional rhyme or meter. The poem just isn’t didactic; its moralizing is delicate. The diction is actually proletarian and accessible: “When someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along.” The reader senses that it is Auden’s quiet contemplation of a painting; one can virtually see him standing before it, fascinated with the character of struggling amidst those that don’t care.

Auden elucidates on this poem that struggling happens in every single place whereas not always seen, nonetheless, when seen everyone seems to be apathetic. The totally different pieces within the poem provides a normal thought of ignorance, struggling, the concept that individuals endure pain and misery.

Read About: Major Themes of W.H. Auden’s Poetry

There are numerous themes within the poem. The first stanza of the poem reveals the theme of ignorance. Auden praises “The Old Masters” for their knowledge about struggling and human status, and criticizes in the present day’s common man as he’s ignorant in regards to the struggling and busy in common actions like “eating or opening a window or just walking dully along”. Further, Auden provides reference of “the aged” the sensible ones who “reverently, passionately” waited for the arrival of the Christ however alternatively, in the present day’s man was busy in his illegitimate actions and “did not want it to happen”.

The second main theme, or basic message, of this poem is concerning the nature of human struggling. Auden acknowledges that every one has painful and traumatic experiences that may change the course of their lives, however in the meantime the remainder of the world continues on in a secular manner. He is especially impressed by how artists from previous centuries seize this concept of their work by exhibiting the actions of individuals and animals across the margins of the principle subject of the work as Auden states that

“the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse

Scratches its innocent behind on a tree”

While a painter would possibly painting a martyr being killed, he additionally doesn’t overlook to indicate an oblivious dog or horse happening with its life. The final stanza is all about depicting the concept of struggling. In Breughel‟s Icarus, the ending of the myth of Daedalus and his son Icarus informed by Ovid is depicted, wherein the 2 fashion wings for themselves to flee imprisonment, however Icarus flies too near the sun and the wax on the wings melts, inflicting him to plunge to his loss of life within the sea. This is the “disaster”  within the poem. Here, once more we see the ignorance of people that “Quite leisurely” turns away from “the disaster”. We discover that the ploughman close by is busy in his work. He could have heard the splash however “it was not an important failure”. Similarly, “the expensive delicate ship” should have seen a boy falling from the sky and into the ocean with “the splash” however they needed to attain their destination, in order that they “sailed calmly on”.

Read About: Analysis of “In the Praise of Limestone” by W.H. Auden

Another theme of the poem is the significance of artwork and the way it can replicate life. Auden praises not solely the truth that the Old Masters may create paintings that look sensible, but additionally that they had been in a position to make an essential assertion about life.


The poem reveals how invaluable high-quality arts are for a tradition. Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts” units itself up as an ideal instance of the forms of ethical reflection which art can inspire.

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