Saturday, April 07, 2007

Failing and Falling

I heard this poem read on the Writers Almanac on NPR this week and, though its themes are pretty standard, the phrasing, pacing and word choices are beautiful. This is great poetry.

Failing and Falling by Jack Gilbert

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.


isaiah said...

"I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell, but just coming to the end of his triumph."

I like see things this way instead.

Soothing poem. Thanks

anonymous julie said...

Somehow Tommy's comment is no surprise :)

What a lovely poem. Thanks Trev.

Ethan said...

Yes, a really good poem. Thanks

Jon said...

You're a keen-sensed collector of wonderful quotes, Trev. That last phrase is going to be another one on my website. I love it.