From the French of Philippe Desportes


Here Icarus, that dashing airman, fell.

His home-made apparatus came undone.

From youth he aimed at nothing but the sun:

Hence these few feathers drifting on the swell


Are others drawn along his parallel?

How has he lost what any winner won?

These earth-bound seekers of oblivion

Will find what trailing plumes of pride foretell.


The fastest ways of flight left him unmoved.

Only his wings were wax: his heart had proved

Its theory, and he saw the great stars dim


Around him, as he wrote his melting name

Between their points: then to the sea he came,

And waves of glory rose to welcome him.