Saturday, April 25, 2009

Before He Fell

But still, he blames

The Flemish

For the reviews –

A splash unnoticed,

Not even front page news,

Just drama in an empty house,

Tragedy undetected.

While ploughmen

Plod along the pit,

The player is neglected.

His ears still ring with hisses;

His neck still feels the cane.

In muffled wet soliloquy,

He soggily declaims,

“Remember, master Bruegel

And your ilk, before you

Stroked me dead to please a guild,

Before you made me food for fish

And fixed my legs in blue,

Commanders of opinion, think on this:

Before I fell,

I flew.


  1. I need to thank Aniket for reminding me how much I love Icarus.

  2. I love how you take classic examples of art and turn them into poetry. This is singular!


  3. Now them's art! This is an amazing poem, Icarus' complaint to his painter, LOVE IT! The final line is perfect and ties it all into place beautifully.

  4. 'Tis true, 'tis true. He flew so high his fall was then, in turn, so far - and it wasn't even the fall that killed him - but the water in which he landed.

    Perhaps he should have chosen a cloudy day to take flight, when the sun wouldn't have melted the wax fixative.

    I love your poem, the form and nature of it are superb. It's wonderful how you take a painting and re-paint it with words.

  5. dang karen, you nailed it very well :)

  6. And thanks to you Karen, for showing how exactly it is supposed to be done. :-D

    From one admirer of Icarus to another... I love it to the core. :)

  7. This is wonderful. I admire the way the entire action is transferred to the theatre, and the character of Icarus given a voice. I particularly like the pithy summary. Before I fell, I flew. Some of us would think it a fair trade-off.

  8. Before I fell, I flew...
    That gives voice to so many unnamed who fell... thank you Karen . Thank you for letting Icarus speak.

  9. Karen, your poem so wonderful describes how Icarus would have felt about Bruegel's painting. The world carried on, unnoticing the spash as he falls into the sea.

    The last two lines: "Before I fell, I flew." summarizes all his feelings.

  10. Kat - Thank you. I really began with Icarus, rather than the painting. I've always liked his story and I wanted to give him the last word.

    Cat - Thanks for your kind words! I love this painting for the very reasons Icarus (in the poem) is upset about it. We goes on, unaware or unconcerned that epic events are occurring right under our noses.

    K - Your comment has made me think that at some time, we all fall down, and often it's not the fall but the mess into which we fall that gets us.

    I can't blame Icarus for flying high. How disciplined one would have to be not to soar! He may have fallen, but first he flew!!

    Thanks, as always for your supportive comments.

    laughingwolf - Thank you, my friend. I'm glad you liked it!

    Brosreview - Thank you! You are always very supportive in your comments.

    Aniket - You helped me on this one with the lines in your acrostic about soaring. Having done something so monumental should not be ignored! Thanks for the inspiration. I had started a poem but didn't know where I wanted it to go until I read yours. :-)

    mairi - This "poor player" certainly didn't want to be "heard no more." The Icarus of this poem felt he'd been panned by his critics, hence the theatre action. He can't take being an afterthought, but I agree about the trade-off.

    LGL - Yes, flying would be the important part to remember, yet we fix on his fall. Is that human nature, I wonder, or just our need to believe one shouldn't try to fly too high? Thanks for reading and commenting.

    Margaret - Isn't it a sad -- and also realistic thing that Bruegel painted? Right under our noses, and we don't even notice...

    Thanks for coming by and commenting!

  11. And history shall remember this day as the day Lady Karen admitted that an Earthling named Aniket created something that could inspire her. True Story! lol

    I shall cherish this moment forever! :D

  12. The poem is really fantastic - and you may have noticed that I almost never use that word. I've brought it out specially for you.

  13. Aniket - One of the wonderful things aobut our community/friendships here is the way we inspire one another. In this case, to quote a well-known song, "the wind beneath my wings."

    Dave - I'm blown away with your comment! Your art background makes this doubly meaningful for me. Thank you so -- I'm thrilled that you like it. I won't forget what you've said!

  14. Oh, dear Karen. Again, I am blown away by your words. The sounds and the beauty of the phrases are excellent. But that ending makes me want to applaud. "Before I fell, I flew." It's like an "in your face" to the naysayers, and I love it. Yeah!!

  15. I am sorry but please no not that song again!! Its my company's anthem.We have to sing it at every quarterly meet... as a part of team building thingy. Its a good song... but its tie up to work has made me begin to hate it now. :-) :-)

  16. Julie - You're always such a positive friend and encourager! I wanna fly, by the way -- my recurring dream when I was a kid. I think that's why I sympathize with Icarus. When I got older, I dreamed I was late for college finals. I'm a grandmother, and I still dream I'm late for finals! LOL

    Aniket - A company that makes you sing? Can't be all bad!

  17. Karen, I was completely choked up by the breathtaking last line of your poem (coming, as it does, after such an amazing work of art) and then I read the comments and got to Aniket's and now I can't shake the image of him and his co-workers singing "Wind Beneath my Wings"!! :) So thanks a lot Aniket. ;)

  18. Go on laugh it off Jen. You don't have to finish off the song singing "We make magic here... we are MASTEKeer" Its awful!

    They've even got a video to go with it. Its so bad that its hilarious. Someday when I leave this firm... I'll send you the link.:D

  19. A great sentiment of inspiration in there. Yes, to fly....

  20. Jennifer - Welcome! Thanks for the reaction to the poem. I hope you have a little more time now to read and write again.

    Jason - Thank you! Icarus gets a bum rap, I think. Who wouldn't want to soar if given a chance?

  21. Icarus

    The wax is melting
    and I am burning too quick
    I know, but even
    now I am happy,
    even now my heart leaps, leaps
    within my straining
    breast as I still try
    to fly upward, heaven bound.
    I have earned this time.

  22. I can't think of a more triumphant, poignant ending than those lines, Karen. There is something in knowing the fall that makes his soaring that much more spectacular to me. He endeavored to such heights. We should all be so lucky.

    I particularly love his chiding of Bruegel here. I had one of those smiling, satisfied moments when recognizing that twist...the idea of a subject's painting questioning his treatment by the artist. Demanding to be seen as he wants to be seen. Such a wonderful construct for a poem. I always love how you incorporate art into so much of your work. :)

  23. that should be "painting's subject"...ack!

  24. Before I fell,
    I flew.
    If we could just say that, it would be more than enough...

    What a wonderful light the painting has...

  25. This is a wonderful turn on Breughel & Icarus-- such a perfect tone throughout. Well done. & thanks for following over at RFBanjo.

  26. As usual, this is another beautiful expression in poetry. beautiful, karen.

  27. i never saw this painting before. even clicking the larger one it took me a few minutes to understand what it had to do with icarus.

    and i am completely torn. on one hand, i love the painting - how the whole scene is oblivious to what i usually think of as an epic story - no wind, no wings, just a splash - turns the power of tragedy on its head.

    and i love the poem. i love the youthful defiance of it, that he is unbowed even in death, that you gave him such powerful and wild-eyed last words (and wow, do they ever ring....) turning the power of the painting on its head.


  28. Christopher - I think that's how he felt -- "I have earned this time!" Your poem is a great companion piece, as always.

    Sarah - You always go right to the heart of the work -- the lack of focus on his flight is, I think, unfair to Icarus. He has been turned into an admonishment for children.

    I'm glad you like his voice in this poem. I worried a little about the use of theatre to describe his lot, but that painting always gets to me with its ordinariness in the midst of tragedy, so I thought he'd blame Bruegel for his reputation -- his "reviews".

    Vesper - That would be enough - or should be, shouldn't it?

    John - Thank you for stopping by, and for your kind comment. I have been reading Robert Frost's Banjo for a while and always find it interesting. What talented people you and your friends are!

    Silver - Thank you! I appreciate your comments, and I'm glad to see you here.

    joaquin - I am happy to have introduced you to Pietr Bruegel the Elder!! The painting is actually called "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus". I understand what you mean about being torn; I have the same reaction to the painting. I think it speaks volumes about humans and humanity. How often do we ignore tragedy because we are so wrapped in our own concerns that we don't see what's happening right under our noses? Too, too often.

    I love mythology, and Icarus, though really a minor character, has always been a favorite of mine -- maybe because he was so human.

    Thank you for your comments.

  29. Beautiful poem, Karen. I always felt for Icarus too. I love the last lines:)

  30. Thanks, Faith. I always appreciate knowing you are here.

  31. I love this poem and I welcome you to my blog.

  32. Cagey - Thanks!

    Printemps - Thank you, and thank you!

    Vicki - Welcome back, and thanks.