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Zbigniew Herbert

(29 October 1924 – 28 July 1998 / Lvov)

Daedalus And Icarus


Daedalus says:

Go on sonny but remember that you are walking and not flying
the wings are just an ornament and you are stepping on a meadow
that warm gust is just the humid earth of summer
and that cold one is a brook
the sky is full of leaves and small animals

Icarus says:

The eyes like two stones return straight to earth
and see a farmer who knocks asunder oily till
a grub which wiggles in a furrow
bad grub which cuts the bond of a plant with the earth

Daedalus says:

Sonny this is not true The Cosmos is merely light
and earth is a bowl of shadows Look as here colors play
dust rises from above the sea smoke rises to the sky
of noblest atoms a rainbow sets itself now

Icarus says:

Arms hurt father from this beating at vacuum
legs are getting numb and miss thorns and sharp stones
I cannot keep looking at the sun as you do father
I sunken whole in the dark rays of the earth

Description of the catastrophe:

Now Icarus falls down head first
the last frame of him is a glimpse of a heal childlike small
being swallowed by the devouring sea
Up above the father cries out the name
which no longer belongs to a neck or a head
but only to a remembrance

Commentary:

He was so young did not understand that wings are just a metaphor
a bit of wax and feathers and a contempt for the laws of gravitation
I cannot hold a body at an elevation of a great many feet
The essence of the matter is in having our hearts
which are coursed by heavy blood
fill with air
and this very thing Icarus did not want to accept

let us pray

Submitted: Thursday, December 29, 2011
Edited: Thursday, December 29, 2011

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