Apathy To Human Suffering Essay

1324 words - 5 pages

The suffering of the world is often captivated in the work of the great poets like Robert Frost and W. H Auden. The similarities between Frost's "Design" and Auden's "Musee des Beaux Arts" include the belief that the world may be blind to human suffering and to that that causes the suffering. Apathy by the part of the human being is explained either by sheer ignorance of a greater power or by lack of time to consider the existence of such a power that controls the fate of humanity and all that is present in the world.

Robert Frost's "Design" describes plainly a picture that contains the outmost rarities in nature. "I found a dimpled spider, fat and white, / On a white heal-all, holding up a moth / Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth -"(Frost 1-4). The narrator finds a spider that is dimpled and fat as well as white. The first two adjectives are put in contrast with that which they are describing. A spider, eerie and most usually described as hairy and ugly, is here portrayed as white and almost beautiful. This spider is posed on top of a heal-all that is also white. A heal-all is a purplish blue flower and the proposition that this one must be white is a rarity in itself. Finally, the spider holds up a white moth, usually gray, for the narrator to see it flying like a piece of cloth. Frost succeed in making the reader consider the rare design that has come into play for these unusual objects to appear and to be observed by the narrator of the poem for if there is someone that arranges these little details and makes them so intricate, then there must surely be someone or something that arranges a specific design onto everything, including the lives of all human beings.

Frost then continues to shine a sinister light upon the picture that has already been painted. "Assorted characters of death and blight / Mixed ready to begin the morning right, / Like the ingredients of a witches' broth-- / A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth, / And dead wings carried like a paper kite" (Frost 5-8). The assorted characters of death are all the associations of funeral rites that are included in these lines. Even the word right, when read in continuation with the next line, turns into its homophone "rite" and that rite into the makings of the witches' broth by using the ingredients, which include the rare spider, flower and the dead wings of the moth.

The design is then most apparent in the next stanza of the poem when Frost questions what has brought the white spider to the top of the rare heal-all flower and what has brought the white moth to the death in the night. "What but design of darkness to appall?-- / If design govern in a thing so small" (Frost 13-14). The whiteness of the elements in a picture that is painted so dark appalls the narrator and poses the question of the fate of the world in the hands of darkness. If a picture that seems so innocent and so white can hold within itself such darkness and design, then how much design...

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