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The Fall of Icarus and Autumn Passage

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  • Pages: 5
  • Word count: 1151
  • Category: Poems

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            Story-telling is a very powerful force in the society. This can be seen in the movies, in soap operas and sitcoms, as well as in novels and short stories.  Usually, however, the focus of viewers and readers of these stories is on the most dramatic moments—the last punch of the protagonist that defeats the antagonist, the moment that a man decides to go back to his beloved or the winning shot in a football or basketball match. Perhaps, people have a natural penchant for adrenaline-pumping and exciting points in the course of events.

            What is neglected sometimes is the way in which the winning boxer trains incessantly for weeks and even months just to get in shape, or the difficult trials and practices that a football or basketball team goes through. These are boring stuff and seemingly inconsequential to the story. They are just too ordinary to have any meaningful content.

            Yet, there is an old adage saying that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Extending this adage to the craft of storytelling and even in recognizing good things in everyday life, meaning is derived by the person listening or observing a story.

For eyes that are not trained to look for the extraordinary out of the ordinary, it would not be easy to spot meaning. In this case, listening or watching a story unfold may simply become a long wait for the climax. Meanwhile, the listener or the watcher will grow bored if there is nothing happening. Before the significant thing happens in the story, a person may simply leave or cease to listen because of sheer boredom or disinterest.

Detecting the Extraordinary out of the Ordinary

            In the midst of the ordinary, artists, storytellers and even ordinary individuals have trained their faculties in detecting the extraordinary. The key here is rich and vivid imagination. Without it, the ordinary will remain as mundane as ever and equally boring. But such an attitude, more than anything, reflects a lazy imagination and a poor image of what the world is like.

Landscape With The Fall of Icarus

            Take for example William Carlos Williams’ poem Landscape With the Fall of Icarus. In the poem, Williams described the ordinary events in the lives of those who were doing tending their own businesses when the fall of Icarus occurred. A farmer was plowing his field. Perhaps he was even sweating and was observing his beast of burden as it helps him complete the task at hand.

Or maybe, the farmer was simply intent at warding off the heat of the sun. It was also spring during that time so the world was simply coming alive. The leaves in the trees were beginning to grow again. Everything was beginning to display their green color—a symbol of rebirth and a new beginning.

            In addition to this, the sea was also concerned with itself, busily taking in the slush and the drift from rivers because of the melting snow. The world is indeed coming alive after the dreadful winter.

            What they did not notice is a simple splash in the water. It was unnoticed. The farmer went on with his usual routine. The sea continued to be concerned with itself. Meanwhile, Icarus drowned.

            Williams effectively showed the power of an ordinary moment in the lives of people and in the universe. Whereas, the splash was nothing but a mere disturbance on the face of the water, it contained a whole tale in itself—such an ordinary event containing an extraordinary meaning.

            There are several lessons that can be gleaned from this poem of Williams. As people go through their lives, extraordinary events are occurring—they maybe supernatural or extra-natural as the fall of Icarus was, or they may be perfectly ordinary but they may change the face of the earth. A sense of wonder is needed to detect the extraordinary out of the ordinary.

            Too often, however, the demands of life tend to diminish this sense of wonder as in the case of the farmer in the poem who kept on looking after his field. Similarly, because the demands of work, family, and of the society toward individuals are very great, people tend to be concerned with living that they do not notice the beautiful things and the extraordinary events occurring. The sense of wonder has become dormant in them.

            On the other hand, there are narcissistic individuals, who like the sea in the poem, are so full of themselves that they do not notice the beauty of other people and of other things in their environment. The sea could have noticed the splash of Icarus’ falling had it not been preoccupied with itself.

            Therefore, in order for the ordinary to have meaning alongside the dramatic and the climactic, one needs to have a sense of wonder—the kind that expects artistic things to occur through the most ordinary of events or situations. In addition to this, a deliberate effort to direct one’s attention to the environment instead of to oneself is needed so that beauty and art may be recognized.

Autumn Passage

            Autumn brings out the artistic of a lot of people. When the leaves start turning brown and when they eventually fall, people tend to become nostalgic and melancholic. Furthermore, they tend to notice the changing quality of light and its impact on the environment.

            Autumn Passage, a photograph of Jim Brandenburg, is an excellent example of capturing art out of the ordinary. Brandenburg’s efforts in capturing art in the midst of the ordinary earned him accolades from all over. And why not? He has shown the beauty that could be derived from the mundane aspects of nature that most people would write of as nuisance or taken for granted.

            As a photographer and an artist, he had developed the eye in capturing great works of art. Yet, in capturing beauty out of the mundane, people simply need to develop the eye for it. It is similar to looking at one thing from different perspectives. When this is done, then something, which has been there long before will take on a new aspect and the person viewing it will never be the same again.

            It is difficult to discover beauty, art, and the extraordinary because of the demands of modern lifestyle. Busyness, deadlines, and the business of living can easily leave a person bored and pressured. Yet, by stopping for a while and looking at ordinary things from different points of views, then a whole new aspect may be discovered by the person doing this. This should be practiced by everyone since focusing on the mundane, without the extraordinary, is definitely a boring way to live.

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