Landscape with the Fall of Icarus (poem)

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"Landscape with the Fall of Icarus" is an ecphrastic poem by the 20th-century American poet William Carlos Williams that was written in response to Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, traditionally attributed to Pieter Bruegel. Williams first published the poem as part of a sequence in The Hudson Review in 1960,[1] subsequently using the sequence as the basis for his final book, Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems, published in 1962.[2]

The poem, as indicated by the title, touches upon the story from Ovid's Metamorphoses, in which Icarus, the son of Daedalus, took flight from Crete, where he and his father were trapped in exile, wearing wings made from wax and feathers. Icarus, disregarding his father's wishes that he not fly too close to the sun, did just that and melted his way to a feathery demise, drowning in the sea. This subject – and Bruegel's painting – are also treated by another Modernist poet, W. H. Auden, in "Musée des Beaux Arts", first published in 1939.


  1. ^ Conarroe, Joel (May 1971). "The Measured Dance: Williams' "Pictures from Brueghel"". Journal of Modern Literature. Indiana University Press. 1 (4): 565–577. JSTOR 3830925.
  2. ^ Williams, William Carlos (1962). Pictures from Brueghel and other poems: collected poems 1950-1962. New York: New Directions. ISBN 978-0-8112-0234-3. OCLC 17518488.

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