In two of Auden’s major works he uses the idea of absent-mindedness to express how humans can be self-centered, and tend to have a blind eye towards other peoples’ issues rather than their own. In “Musée des Beaux Arts”, Auden uses a painting by Pieter Brueghel called, Landscape with the Fall of Icarus as a setting for his poem, and uses the characters in the painting as proof that people can be very self-absorbed and unaware. Auden also portrays this same idea in his poem “Funeral Blues”, in which he expresses the feelings of losing a loved one of extreme importance. These feelings help the reader to relate to the magnitude of loss that death can bring, but also shows that people forget that the world around us keeps on turning regardless of their personal situation. In both of Auden’s works he expresses a theme of self-centeredness, and being unaware of others and the world around us. Auden does so by using the characters’ actions in the story as examples as well as the characters themselves.
In “Musée des Beaux Arts” Auden writes about the fall of Icarus, and how the characters in the poem react to a boy who falls out of the sky. He begins by explaining that the “old Masters”, or Masters of Art, were never wrong about suffering (Line 1). He then describes mundane activities that could have been taking place during Icarus’ fall, “While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along” (Line 4). Auden continues to describe what the children may have been doing, and even the animals that pay no mind to what is happening. When Icarus falls out of the sky all of the characters ignore him. Some, Auden claims, may have even heard the cry and the splash in the water, but refused to even look in the direction it came from due to the self-importance of their lives. The poem uses the characters reactions to a boy falling out of the sky to emphasize the idea of self-centeredness.
In “Funeral Blues”, Auden writes about the death of a loved one. The death impacts the narrator so much they cannot fathom that the world is still turning. The narrator is frantic about getting everyone to stop what they are doing, because the person they loved has just died. Auden begins the poem by trying to control uncontrollable activities, and stop everyday functions to mourn for their loved one. The poem describes the reaction of the narrator to losing a loved one, and the impact it has on their everyday life.
In “Musée des Beaux Arts” Auden uses his works to portray an idea, but also writes for an open interpretation of other meanings as well. He uses the characters to show that people can be very self-centered, and forget about the world around them. For example, when Icarus falls from the sky, and drowns in the ocean, a couple characters could have easily witnessed, or even done something to prevent Icarus from downing had they taken a moment to do so. When Icarus splashes into the ocean Auden claims that “the ploughman may have heard the splash,...