Sunday, March 9, 2014

Analysis of "Icarian" by Amy McCann

Original poem reprinted online here:  "Icarian" by Amy McCann
Originally read: August 20, 2013
More information about the Poet:  Amy McCann



I think this poem is pretty gutsy in using the allusion to Icarus, especially considering there's been so many poems, stories, and writing based on Icarus.  Now the question, usually, is how this poet puts spin on the image of a boy, man-made wings burning, drowning.

Well, in this poem, not by much, the first lines, "Gulls puncture the blue between / kites, translucent, cross-boned" addresses the scene and for the rest of the three couplets, the scene is continued to be explored visually with "cellophane animals leashed" and "Some unusual flyers: octopus, brontosaur".  Here the focus on the uplifting visual and the "man taking Polaroids" deals with the idea of focus of image without a mention of "Icarus."

However, there is a prominence of th I speaker.  The next couple of stanzas deals with the experience of the experience of the "I" :

     I sooth my palm
     over sand, trying to erase
     any evidence of our being
     terrestrial.

Here there could be a case that the"I" is Icarus with the mention of not being "terrestrial" or bound by land.  But I feel by focusing more on the speaker and focusing on the background -- the allusion serves as a backdrop point.  The metaphor of Icarus has been explored, so how about  post-Icarian thought.

"Matted feathers / barb the surface, nib my palm." In a post-Icarian thought, the metaphor here becomes stronger -- it's not the past memory, but current. The key here is "matted" in which the feathers have been through some wear.  The references in "O cosseter, O caravel" refers to the scene in which the speaker addresses from a distance.  A kind of futile attempt to connect.

But note the two sentences that start with "I"

1) "I am fast / bound for far shores, already failing / to find the desired."

2) As always, I'll spend tonight chastely / kissing our limitation/ bunked beside you,"

Note how the I speaker wants.  Want is the catalyst and the end result of the Icarian tale.  And note how the focus has a sexual context to itself that falling, and failing are pretty much the same in the first mention.  And with the second the intimate connection is continues with, "my affection / folding into itself, into something / engineered to be unlikely / yet airborne."

The key here is "engineered" in which the term indicates a more self-referential mode in which the term refers to the poem and the "love" this speaker has for itself.  So when we get to the end of the poem with, "Everything given, / one way or another, a working wing."  There's a little sly importance with "working."

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