Robert Frost’s “Out, Out—“ and W. H. Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts“ compare and contrast, how are they similar and how are they different? Read Robert Frost’s “Out, Out—“ and W. H. Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts“ Then write a one-page double-spaced essay comparing and contrasting the subjects (that is, the content or “stories” of the two poems). 1. How are they similar? How are they different? You will have to describe the subject before you can comment on it.) Use details, significant words and images, from the poems to support your thesis statement and topic sentences. 2. Remember that, when you compare, you write about similar things; when you contrast, you write about disparate / different things. 3. Remember also that subject means the narrated “story” itself, not its meaning or theme.

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The question suggests you should briefly describe the subjects of the poems before comparing and contrasting them. Robert Frost's "Out, Out—" tells the story of an accident with a buzz saw, in which a boy loses his hand, then dies. The poem is in blank verse and consists of a single stanza. W.H. Auden's "Musée des Beaux Arts" is in free verse and is slightly shorter than Frost's poem. It is divided into two stanzas, the first of which makes a general observation about how well the old Master painters understood suffering. The painters knew that, even at moments of passion and high drama, there were people and animals around who did not care what was going on and remained preoccupied with the minutiae of their own lives. In the second stanza, Auden uses the indifference of Brueghel's plowman in his painting, "The Fall of Icarus," to illustrate the point.

The two poems, therefore, are similar in that they describe the death of a boy, and in that those around the boy do not seem to be particularly perturbed or strongly affected by his death. Frost ends his poem with the words:

And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.
This makes those who knew the boy and witnessed his death almost as indifferent as Brueghel's plowman. While Auden's references are to the visual arts, Frost's are literary, particularly to Macbeth, from which the title is a quotation. Both poems have a similar tone, melancholy and reflective rather than dramatic. Frost's boy gives "a rueful laugh" before he quite understands what has happened to him. In Auden's landscape "everything turns away/Quite leisurely from the disaster." The organization of the material differs, however. Frost tells a story, and then makes a brief observation about the indifference of other's to the boy's tragedy at the end. Auden advances a general thesis, then briefly tells the story of Icarus to illustrate his point.
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