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Siegelman, Steve – Musée des Beaux Arts

Story of the Box

This box is a love letter to a painter, a poet, and a pet.

Richard Diebenkorn would be 99 this year. His Ocean Park paintings speak my language.

So does the poetry of W.H. Auden, who died 49 years ago.

In “Musée des Beaux Arts” he observes that even in the face

of miracles and tragedies, “the dogs go on with their doggy life.”

Our first dog, Milo would be 36 this year.

One of the best things he taught me is that seeing is knowing where to look.

Steve Siegelman

Berkeley July 12, 2021

Musée des Beaux Arts

W.H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just
walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy
life and the torturer’s horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.


In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.


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