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According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling

the edge of the sea
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings’ wax

off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning

Short Poem Analysis

William Carlos Williams' poem "Landscape With The Fall Of Icarus" is a masterful work that uses the ancient Greek myth of Icarus to explore themes of hubris, mortality, and the indifference of the natural world.

The poem begins with a description of a pastoral landscape, with a ploughman and his horses working in the fields and ships sailing on the sea. However, in the corner of the painting, the speaker observes the "white legs" of a fallen figure that has plummeted into the sea. This figure is Icarus, the mythical character who flew too close to the sun on wings made of feathers and wax, causing him to fall to his death.

The juxtaposition of the pastoral scene with the tragedy of Icarus' fall highlights the indifference of the natural world to human suffering and mortality. While the ploughman and the ships continue their work, Icarus' fall goes unnoticed, except for the "splash" of his impact on the water. This theme is reinforced by the final lines of the poem, in which the speaker observes that "everything / turns away / quite leisurely from the disaster," suggesting that life goes on even in the face of tragedy.

At the same time, the poem also explores the dangers of human hubris and ambition. Icarus' desire to fly too close to the sun represents the folly of human arrogance and the consequences of exceeding our limits. This is reinforced by the speaker's observation that "the myth / of Daedalus and Icarus / has vanished," suggesting that even legends and myths can be forgotten or ignored over time. Overall, "Landscape With The Fall Of Icarus" is a complex and powerful work that explores themes of mortality, indifference, and the dangers of human ambition. Through its use of vivid imagery, juxtaposition, and powerful language, the poem forces us to confront the limitations of our own mortality and the indifference of the natural world to our struggles and triumphs.

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