Monday, March 21, 2005

On the turning away
From the pale and downtrodden
And the words they say
Which we won't understand
Don't accept that what's happening
Is just a case of others' suffering
Or you'll find that you're joining in
The turning away

It's a sin that somehow
Light is changing to shadow
And casting its shroud
Over all that we have known
Unaware how the ranks have grown
Driven on by a heart of stone
We could find that we're all alone
In the dream of the proud

On the wings of the night
As the daytime is stirring
Where the speechless unite
In a silent accord
Using words you will find are strange
Mesmerized as they light the flame
Feel the new wind of change
On the wings of the night

No more turning away
From the weak and the weary
No more turning away
From the coldness inside
Just a world that we all must share
It's not enough just to stand and stare
Is it only a dream that there'll be
No more turning away?


Blogger Dymphna said...

How many and varied are the ways we have of turning away.

You brought to mind my favorite poem, which seeks to understand why we do this.

Musee des Beaux Arts

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

If you would understand our sadness while the rest of the world moves on, look at Landscape with the Fall of Icarus by Pieter Breughel. Put with the photo in your post, it's an interesting juxtaposition.

See Musee des Beaux Arts

Breughel and Auden make a good pair, too. What amazes is that B. is still fresh after 400 years.


Auden wrote this in 1940. You can imagine England's zeitgeist then.
After Shelagh died, I read this poem over and over. Deceptively simple, it has many layers.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Baron Bodissey said...

Or try David Shields:

O, the dogs they humped in corners to speed regeneration
when Ragtime Balty Catman took that copter to the sky.

12:29 PM  

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