Daedalus Alone

I searched the ink-black void,
to see where he might be, 
and among the tumbled stars
of strange-flung constellations,
with all the while the ice-cold winds
of nothingness hard-driven on
my cheek. In all the yawning velvet 
maw of space – he was not there.
And then! Against the great but
distant glory of the sun, a small,
black dot, as of a bird that homed –
ungainly, though, and lawless
in its flight…  and it was him!
Falling, falling, as a stone cast hard
into a pit. Oh, like a stone
or like some stricken bird he came,
falling, always falling and his form
increasing as he fell, until
– and I too dazed to note
the moment of precise approach –
he came right by, still dropping fast
and plunging headlong, and his wings
– those glorious wings! –
dead twirling leaves, dashed out
so uselessly behind. I strove so,
then, to be with him, but could not
for the rushing of his pace,
except that for one brief and fleeing second
I was favoured by the gods
– and looked into his face. Ah, me! His eyes
were open wide, but with the gaze
and glaze of death on them.
My boy! My son! I thought he would have
seen me then – I do not know –
but on the ashen mask there was
no trace, no jot of recognition shown.
Then gone, below me, hurtling
down the gulf until he was again
a dot of black against the misty
silver-blue of earth and sea. And gone,
forever gone from me… But then
– great gods! – just as it seemed
he would impact the wine-dark deep –
his wings, I swear – and did they?
Did they? Imitate a flutter? The blood
surged hot and swiftly to my breast,
and down I chased
through dark and icy winds
to be with him.

From ‘Of Gods and Men

6 thoughts on “Daedalus Alone

  1. Incredibly evocative. The imagery and beautiful language convey both the visual image and the helplessness and heartbreak of a parent powerless to prevent the tragedy he helped precipitate. Not a poem to be forgotten.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jacydo. Whenever I think of Icarus in poetry I think of Auden’s ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’. An insignificant Icarus plopping into the sea, hardly noticeable in the distance;but in Breughel’s painting, there’s a splendid reason for that – which is echoed by Auden.

      Like

  2. I absolutely loved the portrayal of the fragility but also strength of a fleeting moment. How that moment, although fleeting, can have such an impact. Beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Eira, and apologies for this late reply – there’s been a ‘glitch in the system for a while and I wasn’t informed of anyone’s comments. So glad you like this one!

      Like

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