By Nysha Seksaria Intertextuality Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, Pieter Bruegel By Nysha Seksaria Musee des Beaux Arts By W. 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 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 Breughel'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. By Nysha Seksaria Analysis In the painting, “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” by Pieter Bruegel, the people going about, doing their routine things is what is focussed upon whereas, the background is given much less clarity or detail. In the lower right side of the painting, Icarus’s legs are painted, showing he is drowning. This is barely given any importance in the painting, highlighting human apathy. Similarly, in the poem “Musee des Beaux Arts” by W. H. Auden, the same thing is pointed out. The lines “everything turns away/ quite leisurely from the disaster” further displays the same thing as the poem- the indifference to human suffering of the people. Auden understands the flaw of “human position” just like the “old masters”. The old masters refer to painters, such as Pieter Bruegel. In contrast, the colours in the poem are very bright and vibrant whereas the tone of the poem is more sullen and dark. The bright colours of the painting could represent denial since the painting makes viewers look away and try and forget about Icarus’s drowning body. Whereas, in the poem, readers are being forced to confront the fact that people are in denial and are highly disinterested in the suffering of others. The painting could also symbolise how everything moves on after tragedy strikes while, on the other hand, the poem comments on the fact that the world shouldn’t simply move on and pretend nothing happened when there was a “disaster”, regardless of whether “it was not an important failure”.