Analysis of the Landscape with the Fall of Icarus

The moment that Icarus hits the water though is shown in the painting. When looking at the painting, it should be acknowledged that a small splash towards the bottom right corner is occurring. Also visible are limbs flailing in and out of the water. All around different people move about their lives. They continue in their daily works, more concerned with progress than with the struggles of a fellow man. The poem starts with the narrator stating that it was spring in which Icarus fell.

The season is known through the artistic style of trees, the plowing farmer, and the color choices. People are working, all to the benefit of themselves. In the first lines of this poem the speaker introduces the reader to the story which forms the backbone of both the painting and poem ‘Landscape with the Fall of Icarus.’ From the second line, readers should be aware that it will deal with the tragic, and avoidable death of Icarus, son of Daedalus.

“It is also clear through the first lines that the text is going to discuss a famous depiction of the story, the painting of the same name by Pieter Brueghel” (Baldwin’s Analysis of Landscape with the Fall of Icarus by William Carlos Williams’ 2020).

The narrator continues to say that when the tragedy occurred, it was spring. This comes from looking at the painting and deciding, at least according to the painter, that it depicts springs. This adds depth to the poem as spring is generally associated with life, birth, naturalness, and beauty.

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One might also look at the colors used by Brueghel and interpret them as associated with spring. The water is a bright green, and miscellaneous plants are blooming around the hill in the bottom left. Hiding among all this beauty and peacefulness of a scene, be a young man drowning. “ The second set of lines is used to help describe the scene for one who has never seen the painting. He states that there is a “farmer… plowing / his field.” (Baldwin’s Analysis of Landscape with the Fall of Icarus by William Carlos Williams’ 2020). In the next set of lines, the narrator describes a certain feeling in the air. In this case, it seems as though the “year was / awake tingling/near.” Something seems to be dawning or developing in the scene. The “tingling” is in this context associated with spring, but could also refer to the darkness of what is occurring to Icarus. It alludes to a tragedy under the happy veneer of the work.

The next lines take your eyes to the sea on the painting, down to the “edge of the sea.” It is a spot, as is the rest of the portrayed scene, that does not care for anything but “itself.” The sea may have things happening around and in it, but reality these things do not impact its larger body. While the sun’s brightness at this moment might be beneficial to the workers, it is harming someone else, fatally. It “melted / the wings’ wax.” Without prior knowledge of this story, these things would be hard to reconcile. He speaks of the fall of Icarus as being “insignificant.” This was not because it wasn’t tragic, but because no one noticed. His father, still flying, can be seen in the sky looking down on his son, but the other characters do not look toward the water. They remain focused on accomplishing the tasks they set out to do. The final three lines contrast with the rest of the poem. They are also somewhat of a shock if by this point one does not understand the underlying tragedy that inspired both poem and painting. There is a “splash” in the water that goes “quite unnoticed.” This light sound meant nothing to those who heard it, but it was the sound of “Icarus drowning.” In the painting and the story what is known is the young man, Icarus, who has flown too close to the sun and is now drowning in the bay. Although this is a tragedy for his father, and the man himself, no one notices. This is why in the final lines Williams refers to death as “insignificant.”

William Williams structured the story off of “ Landscape with the fall of Icarus”. There were no prominent rhymes or rhyme schemes present in the poem. An interesting fact about the poem is that Williams didn’t use any punctuation throughout this poem. A theme that could be detected through the poem was with the Fall of Icarus showing the fall of society, the degradation of human values, and the essence of human living depictions of humans’ lack of awareness of other’s troubles, pain, and tragedies of many go unnoticed to the rest of the world. Irony- Landscape with the fall of Icarustowards general meaning of mankind (society), spring, farmer and nature, rejection and negligence. The irony of the farmer is that farmers are not usually selfish, do all the growing for the community, and take care of animals and plants. The setting of this again showed a spring-like Landscape and showed growth and in the midst a slight image of death or despair. It could be said that the vivid nature of the imagery of the surrounding landscapes distracts the reader from the tragedy.

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Analysis of the Landscape with the Fall of Icarus. (2022, Aug 09). Retrieved from

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