the landscape of the fall of icarus

the landscape of the fall of icarus

The poem “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” is a modern poem with some original and experimental stylistic techniques. This poem is a plain description of a printing by Brughel about the fall of a mythological character Icarus. The poem is about an ordinary issue i.e. fall of a man. The poem has a deliberately violated the themes of language, grammar and structure. We see no punctuation marks throughout the poem. The poem “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” is about human nature of indifference. The poet takes the reference of mythological character Icarus to talk about human tendency to indifference. When Icarus fell from the sky, it was spring and a farmer was ploughing his field. Similarly, the edge of the sea was concerned with itself. Furthermore, the sun too had no pity upon Icarus. Nobody liked to hear the splash of Icarus drowning. The poem establishes a theme of growing selfishness and individualism among mankind. At present, no one has time to think and worry about others’ problems.
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.

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus has a slightly inaccurate balance between the character in the foreground and the background ships with the sizes not entirely what you would expect from such a skilled artist. Many believe however that this was a deliberate ploy by the artist to strengthen the power of the focal points of the work, and artistic license is an accepted element to many successful oil paintings right across art history.
The Landscape with the Fall of Icarus painting is believed to have been completed around the 1560s and there still remains some question marks over whether Pieter Bruegel the Elder was in fact the original artist but no other painters have ever been linked to it. The classic work can now found on display in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium and is held within their permanent collection, being one of the museum’s major attractions.

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.

a parable on human aspiration. Daedalus and his son, Icarus, were imprisoned on the island of Crete. Daedalus created wings to fly away. Icarus, ambitiously, flew too near the sun. The wax holding his wings together melted and he plunged into the sea and was drowned.

© Bridgeman Art Library / Royal Musuems of Fine Arts of Belgium

In “Musee des Beaux Arts,” Auden does not try, contenting himself with rueful recognition of the world’s indifference to individual martyrdom. But Williams achieves a more subtle, more faithful, more deeply felt response to the painting by means of carefully controlled imagery, grammar and diction, punctuation (or rather the absence of any punctuation whatsoever), and order. His method is evident first in the title of the poem. We know the painting simply as The Fall of Icarus. Williams’s revision of the title grammatically subordinates the tragic event to “Landscape,” just as the painting subordinates the image of Icarus to all that surrounds him. Yet the last word in the title, emphatic in its position, is “Icarus.” The tension between grammatical subordination and rhetorical emphasis is paralleled and amplified in the stanzas that follow.

a splash quite unnoticed this was Icarus drowning

Resources:

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