It was a cold, bitter Sunday; December in Montreal, wind biting with snap as I wended my way through the city, stopping at Eggspectation for breakfast (oeufs, avec viande - or something, my French is rudimentary), picking up DVDs at HMV, letting the wind whip me as I wandered through the McGill campus, then finally heading to the Musee des Beaux Arts when it opened. Impossible not to think of the Auden poem when I hear that name, I suppose - and something about the diminuition of the extraordinary in that poem - the sense that suffering happens, but life proceeds apace - matched that day's heavy heart.
"About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position" - W.H. Auden, "Musee des Beaux Arts"
The Musee des Beaux Arts is a good museum - spotted some fine works by Rembrandt and Pieter Bruegel the Younger (which, come to think about it, is a fact that ties in nicely with the Auden poem, which is about the elder Brueghel's "Fall of Icarus"). But given my predilection for more contemporary pieces, I was particularly taken by an exhibition of Tracey Moffatt's works, especially her "Scarred for Life" series, a fine portrayal of suburban despair.
Being in a sombre mood, and with Auden on my mind, I walked further on after this, quoting "Funeral Blues" to myself. Something about speaking in verse into the open. Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone. Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone.
For nothing now can come to any good.
My Montreal photoset on Flickr