Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Banality that is Bush

Watching the drama unfold in gulf states of our country I am reminded of the poem Musee des Beaux Arts by W.H. Auden. Of course, we can not so easily turn our gaze from this disaster. It is everywhere-- news, blogs, in conversations with friends and family.
It takes a true mastery of indifference to look away from these amazing sights: a city under water; the threat of homelessness for untold thousands. Yet, our President gives us his stark banality, the phone numbers of the Red Cross and Salvation Army, an exhortation to keep the victims in our prayers. As if my supplication will feed, clothe and house them. The President is in California, but will head back to Crawford, and may return to the White House sometime earlier than his original five-week vacation plan. That's big of him. Really big.

Musee des Beaux Arts
W.H. Auden
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.

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