Last week we posted a bit about bibliotherapy, the process wherein books are recommended to help you deal with whatever is happening in your life. Since then, some friends of ours have been dealt some heavy, heavy stuff. Stuff that should make the world stop. But strangely, the world has continued to spin, and that feels odd to us. Wrong.
If you've ever felt something akin to that, here's a poem to remind you that you're not alone. It's called Musee des Beaux Arts, by W.H. Auden, and it's based on this painting called The Fall of Icarus, by Brueghel. If you look really closely in the foreground of the painting, you can see Icarus's little legs plunging into the sea, while the rest of the world goes on about its merry way.
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.