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Analysis


Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Welcome to the land of symbols, imagery, and wordplay. Before you travel any further, please know that there may be some thorny academic terminology ahead. Never fear, Shmoop is here. Check out our...

Form and Meter

It's almost as if Auden is toying with us at the start of this poem. See, the first couple of lines all have ten syllables in them. (Don't believe us? Count the syllables of lines 1-3. Don't worry....

Speaker

What's interesting about our speaker is that he's pretty absent from the poem as a whole. No references to what he thinks or believes or ate for breakfast last Tuesday. No mention of his cats or hi...

Setting

OK, folks. Buckle your seat belts. This'll be a bit of a bumpy ride. Here are some of the settings that this poem brings into play:The Musée des Beaux Arts, a fine arts museum in Brussels, Bel...

Sound Check

This poem is pretty much like all of those thoughtful thoughts that you have when you come up with the perfect way to describe a really intense experience you've just had. You know that great song...

What's Up With the Title?

"Musée des Beaux Arts" is sort of like an occasion piece – that is, Auden could have called it something like "I happened to be at this art museum and saw this one picture and this is wh...

Calling Card

W.H. Auden is a master of form. You could think of him as a chameleon: just when you're ready to pin him as a formal poet, one who's careful to respect traditional rhyme and meter, he breaks out so...

Tough-O-Meter

This little poem is a walk in the park, folks. It's got simple language, it tells a nice story, and, perhaps most importantly, it's actually pretty interesting. It sounds like a normal person speak...

Brain Snacks

Sex Rating

Bucolic landscapes and dying young men? That's about as unsexy as a poem can get, folks. Hey, it's hard to get excited about sex when you're so busy ignoring everything around you! And as our speak...

Shout Outs

The Old Masters (that's artists, folks) (line 1)Pieter Brueghel, "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus" (line 13)
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