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Mythology As Used In Poetry Essay

899 words - 4 pages

Myths are explored and alluded to in all kinds of art forms. The tales of greek gods and heroes being echoed down through literature and art throughout the ages. These myths are even portrayed in poetry, as seen in Natasha Trethewey’s “Myth” and W. H. Auden’s “Musèe des Beaux Arts.” “Myth” makes a quick allusion to Erebus, part of the underworld in Greek mythology, while Auden’s poem references the story of Icarus, the boy who flew too close to the sun. The use of myths in both poems help to strengthen the message that the poem is giving, one by using it as a metaphor, while the other compares it to the concept that incidents do not affect everybody the same way.
In Trethewey’s “Myth,” an ...view middle of the document...

The painting depicts Icarus falling into the ocean after his wax wings had melted, while the villagers in the countryside go about their business, not noticing or caring for the tragedy that is happening. The poem states that “the plowman may have heard the splash, the forsaken cry” showing that Icarus’s cries for help were ignored, leading to him drowning. In William J Hyde’s English Language Notes, it can be found that the apathy given by the villagers is attributed to their belief that those that fly are gods, “The dumbfounded spectators, believing those in flight must be gods, need no more worry about their safety” (Hyde 66). It is also stated by K.M. Mason Jr. in his short explanation of the poem, that his shortening of the title of the painting to just Icarus helps to contrast the original meaning of the painting, by reversing the importance of the scenes depicted, showing Icarus as being the most important figure in the painting instead of the people doing their regular business, seemingly ignoring the tragedy in action (Mason Jr.).
Myth inspires the poets differently, as seen with Trethewey’s minor use of myth to simply metaphorically compare the memory of her lost loved one with that of Erebus in the underworld, and Auden’s use as a nihilistic view of an individual’s death not affecting the whole of society by that much. When juxtaposed, these poems seem to be polarized on their view of death. Together, they show that one’s death would only cause a stir to...

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