Musée des Beaux Arts Questions and Answers
by W. H. Auden

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How do W. H. Auden’s “Musée Des Beaux Arts” and William Carlos Williams’s “The Dance” discuss the theme of art?

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Both poems are ekphrastic, which means they are about a work of art. Both poems try to capture in words the effect of a painting. Both pick a painting by the same artist, Pieter Breughel. Auden's poem is about Breugel's "The Fall of Icarus," while Williams' is about "Kermesse."

Auden's poem argues that the "old Masters," the great painters from previous centuries in the European tradition, capture truths in their art that we might otherwise miss. Breughel's "The Fall of...

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