Wednesday 15 February 2017

About Suffering

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...
Auden, 'Musee des Beaux Arts'

One always gets a frisson, in Brussels, standing before Bruegel's Fall of Icarus. Standing before it yesterday I had some memory of Brookner too. A long search brought me at last to Chapter 20 of A Start in Life:
'About suffering, they were never wrong, the Old Masters,' said Auden. But they were. Frequently. Death was usually heroic, old age serene and wise. And of course, the element of time, that was what was missing. Duration.

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