landscape and the fall of icarus

landscape and the fall of icarus

In literature, Icarus is often used as a metaphor for human pride and ambition. For example, in the Prologue of Doctor Faustus (c. 1588), Christopher Marlowe uses the myth to foreshadow the inevitable downfall of Faustus, who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for superhuman powers: ‘His waxen wings did mount above his reach, / And melting, heavens conspired his overthrow’.
Landscape with the Fall of Icarus (c. 1555) is an oil painting attributed to Pieter Bruegel the Elder. It shows the Greek mythological figure, Icarus, plunging into the sea in the lower right-hand corner.

Many look in detail at the careers of the Bruegel artists and there are certainly many other paintings besides Fall of Icarus which are well worth checking out. Bruegel the Elder was certainly the most talented artist to have come from this family and other notable works included Hunters in the Snow, sometimes referred to as Return of the Hunters. This classic painting covers another broad landscape at winter time, with Bruegel’s small characters returning from a small morning hunting expedition.
Please see below for a summarised list of the most popular Bruegel paintings which are searched for online, right across the world.

The poem is not bounded by any poetic principles of rhyme, rhythm and other musical elements. But somewhere we find long distance rhyme with no deliberate purpose. The considerably short length of each stanza creates a feeling of unimportance. The poet does attempt to describe the scene in depth as the people have denied paying attention to this accident. The organization of poem is so unique that each stanza is short, usually, containing a sentence or less. Similarly, the poem looks unusual in its stanza breakup. The poem is concluded in twenty-one lines with three lines in each stanza. Only the first word of the poem is available in capital letter. Throughout the poem we find incomplete sentences with no proper agreement between the parts of speech. The poem is in the tercet style of writing which consists of three line groups and each line has no more than four words. This poem reads like a short story as it is quick to point out the images a person would get in their head looking in painting. The poet describes everything from the painting so literally from the season of spring to the splash of Icarus drowning. The poet seems neutral about the case of Icarus falling. He only puts some clear-cut imagery to provide his message and thought.
Careless of his father’s suggestion, Icarus came to fly higher and higher towards the sun. Ultimately, the heat of the sun melted wings’ wax. Then Icarus fell to the sea and died. When he fell nothing paid attention to his tragic death.

Both the poem and the painting contain a degree of self reflexivity. This is most obvious in the painting. Although “the fall of Icarus” is in the title, the only evidence of this occurrence is a minuscule pair of legs emerging from the ocean. Icarus and his death, the stars of the Greek myth, are insignificant to humanity as a whole. They have little to no effect on the every day farmer; to the point that none of the people in the painting seem to notice that a man with wings has fallen out of the sky and is now drowning.
There is no need to even read this poem by William Carlos Williams to know that it is self-reflexive. The title already references both a Greek myth and the well-known Northern Renaissance painting by Pieter Bruegel. So, from the very beginning the poem proves its internal awareness about the existence of other works of art, and by doing so correlates itself with these two great works of art.

From The Explicator 58.3 (Spring 2000)
He had begun it with an appeal to his authority, Brueghel, before going on to describe The Fall of Icarus in detail: the farmer doing his plowing, the awakening of spring, the self absorption of life at the edge of the sea, and the small detail of Icarus’s fast disappearing legs. A crucial aspect of Brueghel’s painting is its perspective. The landscape and the action are seen from above– from the viewpoint, in other words, of Daedalus. The force of the picture is thus, I think, to move the viewer not only to recognize the unconcern for catastrophe inherent in the preoccupation of ongoing life, but also to register a horrified protest that it should be so. Perspective allows the painter to make this protest. How is the poet to do it?

Resources:

http://www.pieterbruegel.org/landscape-with-the-fall-of-icarus/
http://www.bachelorandmaster.com/britishandamericanpoetry/landscape-with-the-fall-of-icarus.html
http://rampages.us/dipboyemmvizpoem/2016/06/30/landscape-with-the-fall-of-icarus/
http://www.modernamericanpoetry.org/poem/landscape-fall-icarus
http://www.pieterbruegel.org/landscape-with-the-fall-of-icarus/