Poetry and Icarus Essay

The fateful tale of Icarus has been adapted in multiple ways in poetry and in paintings. In “Icarus”, a poem by Edward Field, a popular mythological character from long ago is transformed into the vastly different reality of a more contemporary world. Irony and figurative language are essential elements of Field’s version of the tale of Icarus, who is immersed into the twentieth century. Irony is extremely evident right when the poem begins to unfold. It starts off by mentioning the setting and the people that live within it.

The line that mentions the witnesses of Icarus’s fall running off to a “gang war” is in my opinion, an ironic reversion of the roles. Field also says Icarus’s police report is “filed and forgotten”, which is more irony since that is the opposite of what should be done. In the first stanza alone there are immediate differences of the traditional life of Icarus and the new one. Field also uses diction to portray to the reader that the poem is a more contemporary version of the myth of Icarus.

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The words “suit”, “gang war”, “committees, and “trains” show that the writer is trying to tell you that the poem is in a more modern time. Field doesn’t even attempt to make the poem sound monumental like older poems and stories usually do. Edward Field adapts the Icarus myth so well that it still has the same lure as the actual Greek myth. His diction and irony definitely clarify the newer, more modern setting. He reflects an effective change of Icarus’s setting in a unique way that I haven’t seen done before, until now, that is.


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