W.H. Auden (03:42)
Elisa New's guests read "Musee des Beaux Arts"; Auden witnessed multiple wars and the rise of Nazis. The piece was named for the Brussels museum that houses the Pieter Bruegel paintings that depict suffering.
"Musee des Beaux Arts": Suffering (04:02)
David Brooks, Peter Sacks, and Samantha Power recite the poem; they compare experiencing and observing tragedy. The group discusses the reference to the "Old Masters" and the moral ambiguity of depicting others' agony.
Continuance of Life (03:01)
Power reflects on the suffering in Aleppo. She describes everyday events detaching Americans from tragedies occurring elsewhere. Sack and New discuss progressive verb use in "Musee des Beaux Arts," indicating continued actions.
Maintaining Accuracy of Language (05:18)
New deliberates the use of playful language in juxtaposition to the poem's somber subjects; David Brooks ponders the function of "Anyhow." They discuss fascination with the macabre and moral obligations of the observer. Sacks explains the war time conditions under which the poem was written and the task of poets, according to Auden.
Form and Inspiration (04:14)
New and Sacks discuss rhyme scheme. Brooks compares the poem to a legal argument. Experts examine the Bruegel paintings and contemplate the language and metaphors describing the scenes.
Moral Responsibility (01:25)
New and guests discuss the delicate, expensive ship epitomizing ambivalence toward suffering. Brooks identifies the paradox of maintaining sympathy when tragedy is commonplace. Power describes the African Ebola outbreak and efforts to contain it; "Musee des Beaux Arts" holds people accountable.
Credits: Musee des Beaux Arts (00:41)
Credits: Musee des Beaux Arts
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