13 Apr Icarus – A Poem
The poem below is inspired by the famous tale of Daedalus and Icarus as told by the Latin poet Ovid in lines 220-235 of Book VIII of his “Metamorphoses” (for an account of this see Sabidius’ translation of this great work available elsewhere on his blog). The poem presented here, which is in the form of a 14-line sonnet, suggests that Icarus’ attempt to transcend the normal physical limitations of a man by flying through the air was fatally undermined when his father called out to him by name. Thus, the confidence of a man engaged on any great endeavour can be dented by a reminder of past frailties, and so the sublime can subside into the commonplace.
Still, when the spiralled heights had slid beneath,
He hovered vibrant, feather-fingered hands
Greeting the wind. Enraptured, sea and land
Span into order; reason held its breath
And plunged – to rise its talons gripped on truth.
The last equations of eternity
Resolved themselves, as air and height and sea
And depth and land encircled into one,
Proving him what he knew – until
“Icarus! Icarus! Not so near the sun!”
Shattered his knowledge; named, once more a man,
Stoned by the weight of all he did not know,
Side-slipped, face downward, drably mythical,
Pinioned towards the sunlit sea below.