Daedalus & Icarus (poem)

Anthology: Poems on How to Live Human Voices Wake Us

Tonight I read a handful of poems on the theme of How to live, what to do? How to get by in the world as a devotee of culture, solitude, ritual, beauty, tradition and individuality? There is of course no one answer, and anyway, poetry should stay as far away from direct “advice,” or proscription of any kind. Still, when I sit back and think about the kind of poems that help me through the day – and the months, and the years – these are some of them. Let me know the poems you rely on in this way: send me a message at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. As I also mention, after this episode I’ll be taking a break from Human Voices Wake Us for at least a month. The best way to support the podcast is to preorder my book Notes from the Grid (coming out February 23), or check out any of my other books: To the House of the Sun, The Lonely Young & the Lonely Old, Bone Antler Stone The poems I read are: Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), How to Live What to Do Galway Kinnell (1927-2014), Tillamook Journal Edith Nesbit (1858-1924), Things That Matter Seamus Heaney (1939-2013), #2 from Lightenings Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962), Joy Louise Glück (1943-), Summer Night W. B. Yeats (1865-1939), A Prayer on Going into My House Emily Brontë (1818-1848), “Often rebuked, yet always back returning” Henry Vaughan (1621-1695), Man Don’t forget to join Human Voices Wake Us on Patreon, or sign up for our newsletter here.  — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support
  1. Anthology: Poems on How to Live
  2. Anthology: Love Poems from the Last Four Centuries
  3. Advice from Charles Dickens & Alice Munro
  4. First Person: Voices from 1900-1914
  5. The Great Myths #22: The Story of Ragnarok in the Norse Eddas

Daedalus & Icarus

The old craftsman came to Cumae after
a long life of art and flight, love and theft,
came alone to the Sibyl’s Italian shore
wasted with age and reputation

to the one who knew every alphabet,
the seeress who saw the future in driven leaves:
and warped with the same old age as him,
she asked that he carve her sanctuary.

His bent wrinkled body covered in dust,
he hammers and carves and polishes away
all of the horrors let loose from his hands:
his dead nephew; the bull-impregnated

woman and its awful issue; the youths
brought from Mycenae for its food; the slave
girl’s love that bore him a son, and the love
he took pity on that imprisoned them both—

he strikes them away and leaves them on the wall,
all of them, as well as the envy and
revenge his talents inspired, all hammered
forgotten. But not his son. Twice he’s tried

to let him go, as the sky did before
the sea took him; twice he’s tried to fashion
his face or his descent or his youthful limbs
or just his eyes, and twice he’s stopped in tears.

Originally published in Poethead