A Picture By Brueghel: Landscape With Icarus Falling

Brueghel was right— everyone sees nothing at least once in the life of a tragedy. To the left, in the painting, a tenant farmer walks behind a horse— four centuries …

Brueghel was right—
everyone sees
nothing at least
once in the life
of a tragedy.
To the left,
in the painting,
a tenant farmer
walks behind a horse—
four centuries
of ploughing
and not once
has he dropped
his seed.
The light here
will be taken
without footnote
by Monet.
Yet the fallen
boy beating
the sea with
broken wings
is less
amazing
than the ship
sailing by
with its paint-thick hold
full of slaves
from Mozambique.
Or the shepherd
staring away so
intent at nothing
his eyes
gouge out.
Such private things
done
with public weight.
He was wrong,
the old master,
about suffering.
It does not ascend
beyond its human
position—
like Icarus to myth—
but profits
beneath paint
(a scream through water)
in parenthesis.

Shane Rhodes

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Black and white photo of Lauren Tamaki"My latest work for The Walrus was a portrait that accompanied a review of Sheila Heti's new book, Pure Color. I love collaborating with the art directors at The Walrus because I always know the result will be spectacular." - Lauren Tamaki

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