Comparing and contrast the themes of Robert Frost’s “Out, Out—“ and W. H. Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts.“  

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In Robert Frost's poem, "Out, Out—," a young boy is sawing wood when his sister comes to tell him that dinner is ready. When she speaks, the saw seems to leap from the boy's hand and cuts through his wrist, nearly severing the hand. The boy knows how bad it is, begging his sister to keep the doctor from amputating the hand, but he dies anyway. Then, "since they / Were not the one dead," everyone else "turned to their affairs." In short, then, life goes on; the boy has died, and it is sad, but there is still work that needs to be done, dinner to eat, and so on. Sad things are part of life, but they don't stop life from moving on.

In Auden's poem, "Musee des Beaux Arts," the writer talks about Pieter Brueghel's painting, The Fall of Icarus, and how other people in the painting must be aware of the boy who fell into the ocean, but "it was not an important failure" to them, and so they kept on with their business. The people on the ship must have seen Icarus fall from the sky, but the ship "Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on." In other words, life goes on. In this poem, in particular, there is the sense that people are somewhat purposely oblivious to the suffering of others when it does not directly affect them. Icarus's death, here, is a tragedy, but Auden says that "everything turns away / Quite leisurely from the disaster [...]," as though they do not care. For Frost, people do not return to their work because they do not care but because the work still needs to be done; for Auden, people ignore the tragedy because it does not affect them. It seems to be a much more cynical view of humanity.

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