THE SUN ALWAYS SHINES ON TV

Auden-flat

Musee des Beaux Arts

W.H. Auden

“About suffering they were never wrong,

The Old Masters; how well, they understood

It`s 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 do 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 it`s course

Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot

Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer`s horse

Scratches it`s innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel`s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away

Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughmen 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.”

NPG P614; W.H. Auden by Richard Avedon

Auden`s poem deftly touches on how we might begin to work on dealing with the sufferings of others by paying attention to it, and not turning away, or walking on by after a cursory glance. He knows that all suffering takes place while the rest of life goes on: many years ago when I had just been told that my mother had cancer and had only weeks to live, I looked dully out of the hospital window onto a world of small, scurrying shapes, busily, and earnestly going about their business unaware of the abject, desolate grief of my thoughts. While the regular humdrum routine of life continues, there are those right under our noses or in far away places who are suffering.

“The Old Masters; how well, they understood

It`s human position; how it takes place

While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along…….”

Even the birth of Christ isn`t able to fully focus everyone`s attention because there will always be children having fun, skating on frozen ponds and playing games.

But “They never forgot,” those old master painters have seen it all, written across the sky in stars and on the earth in blood, suffering and tears; knowing that even in the midst of great tragedy when Herod the Great ordered the Massacre of the Innocents, “dogs go on with their doggy lives.” Even the boy Icarus falling out of the sky is paid scant attention by ploughmen intent on scratching a living from barren soil unwilling to give up it`s meager wealth. The boy crashes to earth, and yet…………..

“……..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.”

Great personal tragedy befalls many while others walk on by, busy with their own lives. This is the way it works: suffering`s position in life is set; but it shouldn`t prevent us from looking, paying attention, and whenever possible, helping when we see someone drowning, by at the very least, holding those suffering people in our hearts and minds, and not just walk dully by on the other side of the street. The sun will always shine tomorrow, but will it shine on us?

Berkson13

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