January 27, 2015

Homework Help: English I

Posted by Candace on Sunday, January 24, 2010 at 1:35pm.

Respond to the question presented by the poet.
"..if there were a fire in a museum which would you save, a Rembrandt painting or an old woman who hadn't many years left anyhow?" Explain your answer.
In ethics class so many years ago

our teacher asked this question every fall:

If there were a fire in a museum

which would you save, a Rembrandt painting

or an old woman who hadn't many

years left anyhow? Restless on hard chairs

caring little for pictures or old age

we'd opt one year for life, the next for art

and always half-heartedly. Sometimes

the woman borrowed my grandmother's face

leaving her usual kitchen to wander

some drafty, half imagined museum.

One year, feeling clever, I replied

why not let the woman decide herself?

Linda, the teacher would report, eschews

the burdens of responsibility.

This fall in a real museum I stand

before a real Rembrandt, old woman,

or nearly so, myself. The colors

within this frame are darker than autumn,

darker even than winter—the browns of earth,

though earth's most radiant elements burn

through the canvas. I know now that woman

and painting and season are almost one

and all beyond saving by children.

My answer is that I would save the old woman because just because she may not have many years to live, the painting could be painting again and have it look the same. Do you think my answer is good enough? Which one whould you choose?

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