Tragic fall of Icarus--compares the myth and how it relates to "Musee des Beaux Arts," Landscape with the Fall of Icarus," and "Waiting for Icarus."

Topics: Suffering, Poetry, W. H. Auden Pages: 4 (1158 words) Published: June 13, 2003
The Tragic Death of Icarus

The story of Icarus is a classic Greek myth that has fascinated people all over the world. The tale of his demise has been retold many times throughout history. The myth has been honored in art, songs, poetry and by literature artists, with one apparently inspiring the other to explore the tale in one different approach or another. Three of the most appealing of these versions of the tale of Icarus can be found in the poems "Musee des Beaux Arts" by W. H. Auden, "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus" by W. C. Williams, and "Waiting for Icarus" by Muriel Rukeyser. Even though the three poems talk about Icarus's fall, each covers it in a different way. "Musee des Beaux Arts" and "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus" describes how human suffering occurs at as a personal burden that only affects the influenced individual. In addition, they both basically let us know that life goes on. In contrast, "Waiting for Icarus" is told from a personal perspective and is about broken promises, personal suffering and how it affects an individual. The first two of these poems were inspired by the painting Fall of Icarus by Peter Breughel since both of them mention Breughel by name in their poems. This painting, therefore, is vital to each of these poet's descriptions of the tale of Icarus. Breughel's painting is central in Auden's and Williams' poem, for it shows us that no one is concerned that Icarus is drowning. The people surrounded by his death look at it as a part of their everyday life. However, Rukeyeser's poem is not influenced by the painting and is about a person who is personally suffering because Icarus has not returned like he promised.

In his painting, Breughel features a relaxing seaside setting, where a farmer is busy tilling his field. Across from him is a ship floating on top of the still water. If one observes the picture without careful attention, it is very difficult to see the splash that is caused by Icarus after he falls from...

Cited: Auden, W. H. "Criticism: Musee des Beaux Arts" Exploring Poetry (1998). Gale Group.
Auden, W. H. "Explanation: Musee des Beaux Arts" Exploring Poetry (1998). Gale Group:
Student Resource Center College Edition
Auden, W. H. "Introduction: Musee des Beaux Arts" Exploring Poetry (1998). Gale Group:
Student Resource Center College Edition
Breughel, Peter. Fall of Icarus. Retrieved on June 5, 2003 from
Rukeyser, Muriel
Williams, W. C. "Landscape with the fall of Icarus." Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. 2nd ed. Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. 2003. 694.
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