Read the poem below and answer the question.

Musee des Beaux Arts by 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.

Which of the following excerpts most clearly reflects the theme of the poem?

A)“About suffering they were never wrong”
B)“how well they understood/ Its human position”
C)"How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting”
D)“Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.”

2 Answer

  • I believe that it is B) how well they understood/its human position
  • Answer:

    B) “how well they understood/ Its human position”.


    "Musee des Beaux Arts" by Wystan Hugh Auden is a free verse poem with no rhythm or meter form. It's 21-lined poem shows the how indifferent people can be with other's misfortunes or sufferings.

    In the poem, Auden emphasizes the marginal nature of an individual's sufferings to the opinion of the rest of the world. Referencing to the painting of Icarus drowning in the sea, he said that the sailor or farmer won't be curious about the drowning boy. He would care less, more eager to reach his destination. While poets are imagining extraordinary events, the world seems more interested in their mundane works, eager to be done with whatever is needed to be done. The above excerpt in the question shows how well the paintings or works of art managed to symbolize or understand the human situation or position.