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What were some points or literary devices you found interesting throughout this poem?
This poem “Icarus” by Edward Field depicts the myth of Icarus and Daedalus. This myth now portrayed in a more modern setting, we see a reality in which Icarus tries to live in a society with humans or the “merely talented”. In this new society Icarus can not fully spread his wings, or be himself in a sense. This new life he lives forces him to repress who he truly is and he loses himself in the process. Field thoroughly shows us that Icarus is going through a pretty rough time, he even depicts that Icarus, in this state, feels that living is worse than dying. Field uses rhetorical questions, diction and many other literary devices to bring all of these interpretations together throughout the poem.
Diction, or rather Field’s word choices throughout this poem allow for the more modernistic feel. Greek myths can be somewhat difficult to understand because of the wording used, Field with his choices has cut back on this common confusion. This switch in wording allows the reader to understand the powerful messages portrayed. The first two lines really kill two birds with one stone, we see the symbolism in which the feather represents Icarus falling towards his death and with that we are able to understand that this is a myth. With specific wording we can see that Icarus is now just a normal being in a normal society. He is not living the life where he is a hero. He no longer sees himself as a whole creation of his ideals and thoughts. “thought himself a hero.” He is just an average man, unhappy with his current state in life. We see this idea that living was worse than dying for Icarus, as he “wishes he had drowned” This use of diction allows for a further understanding of the myth and also allows the readers to sympathize towards Icarus.
Rhetorical questions are the thinking piece to any literary puzzle. We see this as Field uses a series of rhetorical questions “What was he doing aging in a suburb? Can the genius of the hero fall? To the middling stature of the merely talented?" These three rhetorical questions give the reader insight not only into what the character in the poem is thinking, but also insight into what the author is thinking. These rhetorical questions have a great purpose in the poem. This may also allow the reader to come up with questions of their own and further build up their thoughts on the poem and or Icarus.
Edward Field’s “Icarus” is able to demonstrate to readers the difference between living in the Greek world versus the modern world. The poem is able to demonstrate to individuals how one’s life can change very quickly over something small. If Icarus had just listened to his father his life could have been much different. Living in this new world Icarus was not able to live up to his ideals. With the use of the poems diction and rhetorical questions, we are able to clearly picture the struggles Icarus went through and why, to him, living was so much harder than dying.
I noticed that there was actually a ton of figurative language in this poem as well as some contrasting points with a little bit of irony in them. In the very first stanza, there is contrast with the words "gang war" in line five. It seems like these words would be differentiating on the grounds that the "gang war" isn't really an authentic war. Rather, it is the contrast between present-day and previous lifestyle. The witnesses are fighting with their past. It appears as though they want to tell the police something, yet they don't. Perhaps this is because they want to help them or not reveal to them that Icarus got away.
I really enjoyed this poem, I thought it was pretty depressing, but very interesting. I thought the juxtaposition used within this poem was great! Field takes the ambition of this man with Icarus as the metaphor and contrasts it to the sad reality that this man now lives. "Never dreaming that the gray, respectable suit Concealed arms that had controlled huge wings Nor that those sad, defeated eyes had once Compelled the sun" (lines 11-14). A man once so full of hope turned hopeless...Field's use of contrasting this man's life to Icarus really gave this poem a whole new light of this man's defeat/miserable dwelling.
The Icarus poem was a very captivating one because everyone can relate to this man's series of unfortunate events. After failing to accomplish one of his biggest goals in life, everyone has lost all their respect for him. He has fallen from grace in a society that will ridicule him for his past mistakes and won't let him live how he once did. I saw this as getting judged of off noe mistake one has done in the past and not letting it go.
@msar, I agree with what you said about judging off one mistake. I think this poem shows how society can bring someone who has big goals down. Icarus wanted to fly high and far and he made a mistake, because of this one mistake he had to live life as a normal human which is horrible for Icarus. I think in a way this shows how society instills fear into citizens when taking big risks in their lives. For example, college is where most highschool students go and that's what's expected of them. But the people who want to start a business for example are told that it's not going to work out or they're making the wrong choice. And if they make a mistake sometimes they are cast out by the people who helped them get there. I think this is what Icarus represents, he took a risk and when he made a mistake he had to live a depressing life.
I really enjoyed this poem as well. Field created an ironic, relatable setting of this poem by using questions as well as parallelism to synthesize this legend with a more contemporary lens, and the parallelism is what caught my attention the most. One thing i mentioned in my impromptu was the light fixture. Each day Icarus “Constructs small wings and tries to fly To the lighting fixture on the ceiling”. This light fixture provides a perfect parallel to the sun. The pain of losing his nobility and becoming an average person was too much to bear for Icarus to the point where Icarus wishes he could fly into the sun again- only to actually drown this time. I thought this was not only a very clever way to modernize the sun part of the myth, but also to show how much pain is created when the society you are living in does not understand you.
@xwing37 this is a really interesting point of view. I had thought of this poem as trying to exhibit the pain that is created when you are living in a society that doesn't understand you, but this is an interesting take. From what you are saying I am getting the idea that society is set up to watch you fail if you take a risk. Like your college/ business example, let's say a person chooses to not go to college in hopes of a different career path and to start a business. If the business fails, the person has no degree or anything to back him up and society will dissgard him as a working person, when really he could have much more ability than another who has a college degree but society punishes him for taking a risk by the way it is set up. I know Mr. Chisnell has said multiple times that there is no one meaning to a poem so I think that many ideas like this could come into play
The tone of the piece really stood out to me. In the myth there is a feeling of youthful ignorance, but this wasn't like that. Instead it was depressing, and empty. As I read it I pictured gray skies and and hazy afternoons, very much like the weather we've had. Icarus is described of having "sad, defeated eyes", and that is very accurate also to describe the tone. It really made me as a reader question this feeling of being an imposter in the world, and that he was not seen. The tone especially tied in with the idea of death>living, because his life seemed so bleak. So if he had drowned, would that have been a justifiable escape. Yet he still tried to fly, this part stumped me a bit cause it seemed happier.
@savhoisington What you said about the pain created when society doesn't understand you is really interesting. I definitely can see that as a theme of the poem. The world didn't understand Icarus's love of flying so he had to do it in secret, and by hiding that he suffered greatly. When I read the poem I didn't connect the dots about the light fixture that's so smart! I wonder if he always falls because he had always fallen from the sun too.
@carlatortelli I really really love the way you described this poem and the life of Icarus, especially touching on the line about him drowning and how he wishes to die because it would be significantly more pleasant than living to respond to your question regarding the devices used in the piece, one that really really stood out to me was a particular rhetorical question asked in the middle of the poem. "What was he doing aging in a suburb?" This question really tied together the piece, because it bridged the gap between the "legend" of Icarus and his place as a man in the real world who isn't so satisfied with his life as one may think. It addresses the dread of suburban living that I'm sure many of us can relate to. I invite people to respond to this idea as well. How do you relate to the poem in your own personal life? I think we have all felt some aspect of what Mr. Hicks felt in the poem.
@savhoisington Your interpretation of the poem was a very interesting one. The idea that the poem is a representation of the pain from a misunderstanding world is something really intriguing that I will definitely really be looking into. The man in the poem does feel misunderstood, and that causes him to feel a great deal of pain that he is unable to properly deal with in his life, as he is not some superhuman being like Icarus. I think that this interpretation of the poem adds more context and a deeper meaning.
@delphine Through adapting Icarus to modern times, he seems to fit in from the outside very well. Although he may be dreading his decisions on the inside, immersing himself into a standard suburban lifestyle does not go against the grain of contemporary life. I relate this poem to society's influence of normative conformity. This idea shows how a majority can influence our opinions in order to not be the "odd man out." Icarus dresses in his business attire and takes his daily commute to work like a majority of working class citizens, but it is not his ambition. For us, we are born into a lifestyle that involves an education that leads to college. However, for many college may not be their idea path in life. With growing up being taught that college is the correct path, some aspirations may seem out of reach for those who are influenced by normative conformity.
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