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ICARUS
Now on the shining
backbreaking water
while some lucid
bird in his high tree
sings and a ploughman
opens the hillside
it is small matter
if a boy should fall
no planet, human
entering that water.
And ships in furrows
or fields in their waves
neither a bird
nor a boy attend,
although proper grief of
his father who watches
a while may be heard
till the song, the sorrow
are lost on the waves.
                                         no. 28....47
Editor's note
Icarus : first published in New Zealand Listener 521 (June 17, 1949), 15; also in The Blind Mountain and Selected Poems; Icarus: in Greek myth the son of Daedalus, who escaped from Crete on wings made by his father but was killed when he flew too near the sun and the wax attaching his wings melted; a popular poetic theme in the 1940s, many versions being based on Brueghel’s painting The Fall of Icarus, including W.H. Auden’s ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’ and Allen Curnow’s ‘ "The Fall of Icarus" of Brueghel the Elder’ in Sailing or Drowning (Caxton, 1943); Mary Stanley also alludes to Icarus in ‘The Wife Speaks’
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