"Icarus" by Edward FieldThis 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). CUNY Composers. Ed. Corbett Treece. Web. [Your date of acces, Day Mon. Year]. <cunycomposers.wikifoundry.com>.

Questions for Thinking, Blogging, Discussing:

  • 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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pbharij Ego taking over "personality and desicion making wise " 0 Apr 4 2011, 1:27 PM EDT by pbharij
Thread started: Apr 4 2011, 1:27 PM EDT  Watch
This poem has the similar story about Icarus, him falling in the water because he didn't obey his father's instructions, but it's taking place in a different time and place setting. Also he turns out to be alive, in the original story he died by drowning. There's also another similarity with both poems no one cared about Icarus dying. I liked the fact that Icarus survived in this poem, but Icarus decides to live an ordinary life after his failure with his flying experience. But why ? why live an ordinary life when you once had a special power which was the ability to fly; no one had what you had. The "ID" part of Icarus' personality he had already done which was disobey his father's instructions and flew too high and ended up falling in the water. He just wanted to satisfy his urge to fly and feel the adrenaline rush of excitement. Then Icarus falls and almost died but he survived. After his survival Icarus decides to change his life and have a new persona, this is the part where his ego made a final decision. Because his superego made him realize that if he tells society about his power he had, they wouldn't care or believe him. It also would have been humiliating if he told society because they would be like you had such great power almost close to God and you fell how pathetic is that. So Icarus decided to live an average life nothing fancy he wanted to leave the wings in his past and leave it that way. I also thought the last stanza was very sad.
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Kareema.moore ALTERNATE ENDING 0 Apr 4 2011, 8:25 AM EDT by Kareema.moore
Thread started: Apr 4 2011, 8:25 AM EDT  Watch
This poem changes the story of Icarus in a way in which he lives instead of dies at the end. I am having trouble analyzing the second stanza. I do not comprehend what is going on. However I get a sense of the use of sarcasm in the second stanza. In the third stanza I felt like there was a sense of guilt within Icarus due to the fact that he felt foolish for falling into the water so he tries to make it up to himself by trying to create his own cheap wings. The tone of this poem was a hint of hopefulness (is that a word? Hehe) yet the tone is regretful. Icarus is regretting not obeying his father. However, Icarus is hoping he can build wings and get over his guilt. I feel like Icarus feel alone and dead on the inside. I agree with lisbethm’s argument about how we are all dead in some kind of because of our daily routine and sometimes the guilt that one feels.
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KaydeonB Icarus 0 Apr 4 2011, 5:14 AM EDT by KaydeonB
Thread started: Apr 4 2011, 5:14 AM EDT  Watch
I believe that this was a great poem and everything comes together now. Although the people in the village ignored him as he drowned in the water he eventually lives a nomal life and learns the facts that he should listen to what instruction his father gave instead of being stubborn. Now that he is a normal man and living the life he is living he wishes that maybe he can fly again but his dreams end up giving up on him. Now he feels that he cannot even do anything and feels like a failure because he cant fly and do the things he dreamed to do anymore. Maybe if you just take it a step at a time and learn what's right and what's wrong you will defientely come far in life.
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