Wednesday

Oct. 31, 2001

Musée Des Beaux Arts

by W. H. Auden

WEDNESDAY, 31 OCTOBER 2001
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Poem: "Musée Des Beaux Arts," by W.H. Auden from Collected Poems (Random House).

Musée Des Beaux Arts

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 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.

Today is Halloween, also called All Hallow's Eve. This celebration goes back to ancient Celtic times. Interestingly, though the tradition of a full moon is often associated with Halloween, there is rarely a full moon on this day. The next full moon which will occur on Halloween will be on October 31, 2020.

It's the birthday of famed sportswriter Grantland Rice, born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (1880), who wrote, "It's not whether you won or lost, it's how you played the game."

It's the birthday of the author John Keats, born in London (1795) in his father's livery stable. His first book was published in 1817, and was followed by his poem "Endymion," which describes the states of ideal love and beauty. When he was 24, he wrote what is arguably considered his greatest poetry, including "The Eve of St. Agnes," "La Belle Dame sans Merci" ("The Beautiful woman without Mercy"), and his six great odes, including, "Ode on a Grecian Urn."

On this day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses against indulgences to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. Indulgences are the selling of forgiveness of sins.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

 









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