Edward Field's "Icarus"This is a featured page

by Edward Field (b. 1924, poem 1950)

Only the feathers floating around the hat
Showed that anything more spectacular had occurred
Than the usual drowning. The police preferred to ignore
The confusing aspects of the case,
And the witnesses ran off to a gang war.
So the report filed and forgotten in the archives read simply
“Drowned,” but it was wrong: Icarus
Had swum away, coming at last to the city
Where he rented a house and tended the garden.

“That nice Mr. Hicks” the neighbors called,
Never dreaming that the gray, respectable suit
Concealed arms that had controlled huge wings
Nor that those sad, defeated eyes had once
Compelled the sun. And had he told them
They would have answered with a shocked,
uncomprehending stare.
No, he could not disturb their neat front yards;
Yet all his books insisted that this was a horrible mistake:
What was he doing aging in a suburb?
Can the genius of the hero fall
To the middling stature of the merely talented?

And nightly Icarus probes his wound
And daily in his workshop, curtains carefully drawn,
Constructs small wings and tries to fly
To the lighting fixture on the ceiling:
Fails every time and hates himself for trying.
He had thought himself a hero, had acted heroically,
And dreamt of his fall, the tragic fall of the hero;
But now rides commuter trains,

Serves on various committees,
And wishes he had drowned.

to Cite this work:
Field, Edward. "Icarus." 1950. Spring 2010 Writing Classes. Corbett Treece ed. Wetpaint. Web. [Your date of acces, Day Mon. Year. <cunydictspring2010.wikifoundry.com>

Questions for Thinking, Blogging, Discussion

How does the updating of the time period in which this story is told alter the story itself?
What is the overall tone of the poem?What does the tone of this poem imply about the time we live in?
Or, alternatively, what does it imply about the time in which the poem was written? About the atmosphere following WWII, anout the emotional charge?
How is our time (or this time) so clearly different from the mythic time of Icarus and Daedalus?
What literary devices does Field use? What figurative language does he use?
Analyze at least one of these devices and uses of figurative language. How are they used to adapt the Icarus myth to a contemporary setting?

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