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Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

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    For the final project I have decided to go with option number two and attempt to further examine a piece of poetry from our literature book. I feel that I gained a lot of understanding and knowledge, when a similar paper to this option was assigned earlier in the semester. In the earlier assignment I examined and researched sources based on Williams’, “Red Wheelbarrow” and in the end viewed the poem in a different light and felt doing so with another poem by Williams would be beneficial.

    I would like to take the work of William Carlos Williams, “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” and do extensive research and gain a greater insight of this specific poem. When I began brainstorming and attempting to come to a decision on how I wanted to approach this project, I simply opened up the literature book and started reading randomly from beginning to end. Somehow, I consistently ended up coming back to William Carlos Williams and decided it was a sign.

    I thoroughly enjoy reading his poetry, primarily based on the fact of how well he can depict a simple scene and turn it into a remarkably beautiful image inside my mind. I also chose the specific piece, “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus”, because it is also an actual piece of art work by Pieter Brueghel, it gives me a visual example to examine as well. This poem is not simply just Williams’ imagination, it is an interpretation based on Brueghel’s work, which is a result of Greek mythology. Prior to actually starting this assignment, I decided to research the painting and the protagonist that are referred to in the poem.

    I found that the piece of artwork by Pieter Brueghel, was thought to be crafted sometime during the sixteenth century, but was not known of until it was brought to a museum in 1912. In researching the mythology of Icarus, I began to notice that the painting Brueghel created told a story all by itself. I discovered that the painting depicts the ancient Greek mythology tale of Icarus and his failed attempt at fleeting from his home in Crete. As the story goes, his father Daedalus, whom was considered a master craftsman, constructed wings for his son for means of escape.

    The wings however, were made of feathers that were held together by wax. Icarus had been warned not to fly too closely to the sun, yet he ignored clear warnings and did just the opposite. The wax of course melted and Icarus fell to his death in the sea below. The event is clearly depicted in the painting, showing young Icarus, who is drowning in the water, but the world around continues without noticing. After gaining greater background information, I then turned to more credible sources in search of; why William Carlos Williams wrote the piece? What his intentions were?

    What else lies behind the story of Icarus? I began doing more extensive reviewing of other of Williams’ poems trying to get a better sense of how he wrote. I noticed how Williams approached a different technique of writing. “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus”, which had been written about a painting, was infact not the only time Williams wrote a poem based off artwork. Unlike most poets during the time Williams was alive, who focused on the world around them for their inspiration, Williams took into account the beautiful works of art that had been created centuries before.

    Noticing this trait that William Carlos Williams work processed, I began to see why he was praised as being a modernist and being a pioneer for future generations of writers. The process of this final assignment has just begun and I have insured a lot of work to lie ahead for myself. I hope to find more answers in my research and discover more behind William Carlos Williams’ purpose behind the chosen piece of poetry. I also hope to get a more clear understanding of Williams’ himself, and why he chose to write the way he did.

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    Landscape with the Fall of Icarus. (2017, Apr 11). Retrieved from

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    What is happening in the landscape of the Fall of Icarus?
    In Greek mythology, Icarus succeeded in flying, with wings made by his father Daedalus, using feathers secured with beeswax. Ignoring his father's warnings, Icarus chose to fly too close to the sun, melting the wax, and fell into the sea and drowned. His legs can be seen in the water just below the ship.
    What is the mood of Landscape with the Fall of Icarus?
    The painting has a “tone” much like a poem does. In this case, it seems as though the “year was / awake tingling / near.” Something seems to be dawning or developing in the scene. The “tingling” is in this context associated with spring, but could also refer to the darkness of what is occurring to Icarus.

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