Daedalus Reveals His Secrets - Poem by Daniel Brick
I have scattered pieces of myself
in every land I have stopped. Sometimes
elaborate toys pleasing to a child, or
to the child-hours of an adult. Sometimes
a great weapon to forever link my name
with the heroes. Other times I have left
a few diagrams on a scroll, or a sequence
of powerful numbers, delivered in my obscure
script only a passionate scholar can grasp.
I have a subtle mind, only a few have
received the gift of knowing its origins.
(You slipped through my life
like wine slips through sheepskin.
Splashes of you stained my robes.)
I lived in a garden for three years.
They were blissful years. My son, ICARUS,
was born in the second year. His mother
was a lovely slave serving in King Leontes's
court. The courtiers laughed when I married
her. Oh, how we loved that garden!
The rainbow of colors against the dry earth
of the surrounding landscape was our daily
delight. But, one fateful day, I heard
the ugly cackle of birds. I looked up
into that cloudless blue iron sky, and
saw scores of sun-struck black birds
flying in an immense wheel which fell
apart, reformed, rolled upward into
blinding light, fell apart again, scattering
birds across the wide sky realm...
I was an absent thing. My garden delights
vanished under that huge blue sky dome.
Why am I not in that flight? was my only
thought. Why do the Olympians, sky-dwellers
themselves, fill the sky only with feathered
flight? Why not us? Why not me? Thus began
my life-long quest: to possess the sky
as a fleshly being in full flight!
(You... You slipped... from
my life, my dear one.)
The dwarfish King of Abydos
tortured Amene mercilessly
to force me to build for him
a terrible weapon: in one attack,
it destroyed a whole island of
rebels, and then the other islands
meekly surrendered to his glory.
My invention was their dark fate!
After the dwarfish King released
us, with gifts and promises, but
no remorse, to house arrest,
I nursed Amene's wounds, I watched
over her sleep. She smiled through
her pain we placed flowers on her bed.
When her soul fled her body, the boy
and I had no further tears to shed.
For many rulers, all seeking new
killing machines, I, Daedalus, Great
Artificer, satisfied their lust
for power and glory - but every one was
murdered by a follower who seized that
power and glory. In the chaos that ensued,
the boy and I fled to the next sheltering
tyrant, and the gods were ever silent.
Finally, it was the Great King of Crete,
MINOS, Lord of the Seas, who clawed me
into her service. He spoke darkly
into his wine about what a proud
man I was, 'Yes, so proud, to have
a son who rivals Adonis in beauty, Perseus
in daring, Nestor in intelligence.
He should be a King's son, a Prince.'
I shuddered under his stern gaze.
I bowed to hide my fright: 'To do
you service, Great Lord, is to increase
my honor - ' My goblet tipped and spilled
wine on dry, cracked earth. Minos stood
suddenly, soldiers clustered around him.
'Daedalus, rumors of your flying machine
abound. We would have it for ourselves.'
The night before the first flight
above King Minos's assembled court,
I led Icarus through the maze
to a tunnel that would take him
to the sea and a waiting ship.
We had hardly spoken for hours
as we attached the wings to our
masterpiece, an artificial man
who would fly with me the next
morning and be destroyed by the Sun.
At the tunnel entrance, we embraced
and sobbed. Suddenly, he pulled himself
free so violently, I fell to the ground.
Then our eyes locked on the same beam
of light, and I saw into my son's soul,
and he into mine, And it was enough.
Icarus disappeared into the tunnel's darkness.
King Minos displayed no curiosity
over Icarus's death. He even presided
over a farewell ceremony with his whole
court present. And that was an end to it.
As for my invention, it proved to be
too fragile, too dangerous. It was soon
forgotten. Myself, I was humbled, and
prayed to the gods to forgive my intrusion
into their sky-realm. Every morning,
I repay their goodness with my sacrifice.
The years have passed, the decades have
piled up behind me. I have continue to
serve faithfully immortal kings and mortal
kings, and my reward is my house, my workshop,
my garden. And now whether I breathe the scent
of flowers flowing over the still earth,
or see birds tumbling against columns
of sunlight, it is the same to me:
scent or sight, silence or sound,
growth or flight - to me, it is the same wonder
in my mind, and my heart beats
faster, faster, 'I saved my son! I saved
my son! '
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