Talented Daedalus, a remarkable Athenian craftsman, Icarus’ father,

Built the Cretan Labyrinth for King Minos to imprison the Minotaur

Part bull on the body of a man, a mythical and ferocious creäture.

He was exiled with his son because he told Ariadne, Minos’ daughter,

To hand over the ball of red fleece thread she spun to Theseus, her lover,

So he could find his way out of the maze after the beast’s slaughter.

“I hate Crete! Minos rules everything but the azure” said homesick Daedalus

Applying his arms to invention and altering the natural order of things.

He laid down lines of feathers on a slant, the small ones first, like panpipes.

He followed the shorter with the longer as they had grown like this;

He fastened them together with thread in center, beeswax at the base;

Flexed each one into a gentle curve till they imitated the form of pinions.

Icarus, not realizing he was handling things that may endanger their lives,

Caught laughingly at the silky down that blew in a lovely passing breeze,

And softened the beeswax with his thumb hindering his father’s marvels.

Daedalus’ hands trembled fitting new wings on his boy’s shoulders:

“Take the middle way I point you and travel between the extremes!”

While he issued his warnings, the old man’s eyes were wet with tears.

He gave his son an unrepeatable kiss, flew ahead and looked back at him fly,

Urged the boy to follow like a bird leading its younglings out of a nest above,

Making the ordinaries below believe them to be gods able to travel the sky.

Icarus soared higher drawn by desire for heavens which lent him giddiness

And the devouring sun melted the fragrant wax that held the oar-like wings.

He realized he had no plumes left yet he was flapping merely his bare limbs.

He cried father’s name, vanished into the blue Icarian Sea and drowned.

No longer a parent:  “My child, where will you be?” Daedalus lamented;

When caught the sight of feathers on the waves, cursed what he invented.


Pyramid Song.