Musee des Beaux Arts


Museedes Beaux Arts

Museedes Beaux Arts

Readingthe poem tells one much human apathy. Everyday life offers so manyexamples of events that how humans can be apathetic. Whereas peopleis the past were more conscious to what goes on around them,especially if it has to with human suffering, people have becomesynonymous with what the poem says. One is tempted to think that theapathy is as a result of ignorance, lack of time, or intentionalobliviousness to human suffering(Chouliaraki, 2008).The likelihood that people do not care about human suffering isdepressing and heartbreaking. Human response is the only availablelifeline for other human beings who could be in danger. However, theworld is increasingly behaving like dog in the poem, which goes onwith its doggy life when a torturer’s horse is scratching itsinnocent hind parts on a tree.

Onthe morning of 24thMarch 2015, The Germanwings Airbus, a passenger plane from Germanycrashed in the French Alps. At the same time, two friends, Smith andCarter were chatting in the living room while watching television.The breaking news was all over the main cable networks. Smithshouted,

“Switchon to another station. We are used to these kinds of death. And thereare more to come.”

“Hey,Smith, these are human beings we are talking about. They have justlost their lives on a grisly plane crash! And that is all you cansay!” Carter replied looking very shocked with Smith’s attitude.

PerhapsSmith’s response to the breaking news emanated from growing humanapathy that contextually sounds like the theme of the Auden’s poem.There are concerns about how technology is increasingly making peopleless emphatic. It is not shocking to see someone chatting on Whatsappon the scene of an accident when and probably on something unrelatedto the accident. The next day one is likely to see funny pictures ofphoto-shopped pictures of how the accident happened as if theincident is anything to laugh about. In the same light, Breughel’sdrawing could have wanted to depict the crushing and sinking ofIcarus in a humorous tone while forgetting the fact that was atragedy, Smith and modern social media users are typical examples ofthe human apathy that the poem talks about(Averill, 2010).

Itis appalling that people seem to move on quite fast these daysespecially after a disaster. One will hardly hear anything about thevictims and families of an air crash just a few days after theincident. Newsrooms switch their focus on other issues as if they areawaiting, contemplating or anticipating another disaster. It makesone feel as if the loss of human life is no longer worthy of deservedattention from other human beings. History says a lot about howpeople used to be emphatic long time ago. People spend time grievingand feeling with those who lose loved ones. As history would attest,the sinking of the Titanic caused a rare international outrage.People and governments from different parts of the world expressedtheir empathy to all that had happened to the British ship(Auden &amp Todorović, 2011).Today, in the same world, but with different geopolitical andeconomic circumstances, a disaster of that magnitude to one countrymay be celebrated by another. The polarizing that exists in the worldhas bred hatred and feelings of apathy to human suffering. They canconsider it an amazing sight just like “expensive delicate ship”in the poem considered the sight of Icarus falling from the sky“something amazing”


Auden,W. H., &amp Todorović, V. (2011). Musee des beaux Arts.

Averill,J. H. (2010). Wordsworthand the Poetry of Human Suffering.Cornell University Press.

Chouliaraki,L. (2008). The mediation of suffering and the vision of acosmopolitan public. Television&amp New Media.