Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Painter Reads a Poem About Painters

One of my favorite poems to teach (not necessarily the students' favorite) is "Musee des Beaux Arts," by W.H. Auden, and yes, there needs to be an accent over one of those e's in Musee, but I've yet to discover how to include accents using the blog-machinery. The name of the poem is the name of a museum in Brussels, and the museum includes the main painting about which Auden writes, Breughel's "Icarus," which paints (literally) Icarus in a very unheroic, unmythical light. "About suffering," says Auden's poem, "they were never wrong,/The Old Masters." I like the poem because there are so many different things to do with it in class, including teaching it as an example of an ekphrastic poem--a poem about art, a kind of art different from poetry.

Here is a link to a nice video of painter Susan Hambleton discussing and reading the poem. The video was produced and directed by Louis Massiah and is part of the Favorite Poem Project.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlbFQ5ZtjVY&feature=user
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