'Landscape with the Fall of Icarus'
Bruegel made the ploughman central:
the pattern of his lines of force
(pleats, furrows, movement) arrests us.
Icarus is incidental.
Yet what great heights he'd fallen from,
tumbling from noon to sundown down!
And now, their ardour failed, the sun
and Icarus together drown.
So be it. He is out of breath
forever, with that high kicking
comic gesture of a leg.
There is no dignity in death.
Why should the ploughman turn his head?
Whether folly or tragedy,
this fall is just another fall.
He has known it all already.
Indifferently to each his own
dream of heaven; to each his own
nightmare of sweating wax, falling.
He has a job still to be done.
Indifference is a defence.
With time he's learned a callousness
to what he cannot help. So now
his husbandry of spirit is
to bend his efforts on the soil,
working with nature where he can;
by graft, not grace, trying to
remake the garden before nightfall.
© 2018 Nicholas Bielby