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  • (Illustration: "The Fall of Icarus" by Henri Matisse)

    The main story told about Icarus is his attempt to escape from Crete
    by means of wings that his father constructed from feathers and wax.
    He ignored instructions not to fly too close to the sun, and the melting
    wax caused him to fall into the sea where he drowned. The myth shares
    thematic similarities with that of Phaëton — both are usually taken as
    tragic examples of hubris or failed ambition — and is often depicted in art.


    on The Occasion of the First Presidential Debate, October 3, 2012

    The way you turned your head,

    looked upward to the Sun,

    it seemed that you were posing for a coin,

    your profile minted for eternity in gold. Your halo set.

    You seemed invincible... nothing could stop you then,

    the crowds adored you, held in your hypnotic spell:

    were you the Second Coming of the Christ? Were you the One?

    Your Father fashioned wings for your ascent,

    bright wings designed to carry you to immortality.

    He warned about the Sun. You didn't hear, or didn't want to.

    Though some knew wax would melt.

    Your hubris knew no bounds. How could you fail?

    Your feathers held the wind. You rose in blinding light.

    The Devil said:“Look down. All this is yours, and more,

    If you will do our bidding, war by war by endless war,

    if you will trade your soul for Fame, if you will read our script, and play the Empire’s game."

    And so you climbed past clouds, far now from the fickle crowds,

    far from your Father’s voice. You only saw the Sun, sure immortality,

    a place in myth, a hero born of man and blessed by gods,

    delusional on proud Ambition’s wine.

    Higher and higher you flew, left Reason on the ground,

    becoming arrogant there in the sky’s deep blue.

    And then you lost the lift. Your wings would not respond!

    Your feathers fell away, no longer held the wind.

    It happened with the speed of light.

    The Sun, your goal, burned on, laughed at your silly quest,

    And turned His furnace up to better turn you back,

    fling you to earth, disgraced. Your wings began to melt, you felt your certain doom.

    Oh, Icarus, you thought fine wings of wax would win your place in history?

    Deluded fool! You’ve lost your lifetime dream and more. You’ve lost the world, and all.

    And me? I never saw your fall.
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