Comparing Museacutee des Beaux Arts and Life Cycle of Common Man

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Comparing Musée des Beaux Arts and Life Cycle of Common Man

"Musée des Beaux Arts" and "Life Cycle of Common Man" share a common theme, though the imagery they use to express it is quite different. Both poems have the theme of life goes on or life stops for no one. The difference in imagery is the difference between the general and the specific. I believe that the theme of both poems lies in the same vein, but they take different paths to its development. Auden speaks more about society in general; then, he gives an interpretation of a painting as an example. On the other hand, Nemerov expresses the theme through the "life cycle" of one man, but is this one man--everyman? The "they" of Auden's poem?

In the first thirteen
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This really is not the case because they are both part of the same essential experience. The only difference is the distance they have traveled down life's path. While the "aged are reverently, passionately waiting / For the miraculous birth . . ." the children go on about their play, thinking of all the days ahead while the aged sit waiting and thinking about all the days behind. The only difference between the aged and the children at this point in life is their perspective.

Instead of continuing on about the subtle differences in life, Auden goes back to how life goes on everywhere no matter what. He moves out of the realm of people and into the ambiguous areas of "there" and the world of animals: "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." He is stating that no matter what is happening around you somewhere in the world life is going on regardless of events good or bad. This human experience that we are all in is an all-encompassing event that will continue along its ineffable course until its conclusion.

Auden then makes a shift from the general to the very specific by using Brueghel's Icarus as an example of his point. He describes the painting very well‹even if you have never seen it, you could understand what is happening in the

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