Suppression of the Scene of Icarus’s Fall in P.Brueghel’s “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus”

and W.C. Williams’s poem of the same title

3 min readSep 10, 2021
Painting on canvas by Bruegel the Elder. Icarus, drowning. The ploughman, shepherd and angler are indifferent to this scene.
Landscape with The Fall of Icarus | Pieter Bruegel the Elder , Circa 1560.

Flying too Close to the Sun

Icarus; his wings; him taking flight are all insignificant overly individualized undignified attempts which can not be replicated for the good of the people except for amazement and slight excitement akin to that of gladiator fights.

Both acts of impressions ( the poem and the painting) on the same story are realistic. Euhemerism is at full play. In the real event though; Icarus’ father built a ship to sail to Sicily and whilst en route Icarus has fallen from the deck and drowned. An anticlimactic event which does not account to anything.

In both art forms, it is never mentioned that Icarus was flying. Wings are mentioned in literary form but still, taking flight is simply interpretation. Painting only displays Icarus’ legs.

Painter was merely stating the fact that there was a simple and plain explanation to the insignificant event. More so, even if whole act played out as scripted in the written works, Icarus’ endeavour is futile. One must not forget that his father’s warning did not include the danger of flying close to sun alone, he had also warned against flying too low. But it is often overlooked because flying too low is not godlike and losing ability to take flight due to good old salt in sea water is less likely to turn into a striking story.

On another note, Icarus’ act is not narcissistic, he just rationalistically opted for flying high because flying low imposed more of an imminent danger. It is a false feeling of comfort.

Hence; Being too close to sun is more godlike, has more re-sell value. It is more: Epic.


Being an Imagist, Williams could not be more straightforward in depicting a moment depicted in a painting

“the edge of the sea concerned
with itself”

“unsignificantly off the coast there was”

Average Joe

It adds insult to injury that all mighty Icarus who is so godlike that only the Sun itself could manage to stand before him: Simply drowned, near the coast, from which; the angler, the ploughman or the shepherd could probably survive from. Icarus is the over-glorification of the individual trying to make a name for oneself. Daedalus’ contraption could not have been replicated for the angler or any other villagers who are breaking their backs each day to make a living, it is not a plough that makes job twice easier no.

These people, blatantly dismissed as “Peasants” would rather have two weeks worth of supplies than seek having wings. They have real worries, real threats and real ambitions in life which are ironically mundane and obviously not worth mentioning in an epic. It is their everyday struggle that is overseen. It takes more courage, more dignity and more patience to plough a field every day than putting on wings and taking flight only to pass away in a ridiculous manner, displaying how insignificant Icarus was.


He was trying to cut corners and the angler, the ploughman, the shepherd all must have seen the same attempt played out in different scenarios in life. Cutting corners never works in the long run.

Adding wings into the equation can not make it more intriguing for the ordinary but again it is also an assumption that they knew the backstory of Icarus and they had heard of a man had taking flight.

It can be inferred that they most likely figured he had just fallen from a ship or somehow ended up there by other means as dictated by Occam’s Razor.

Nevertheless, as “peasants” they could not have cared less forthe suffering of a privileged specimen. They already suffer from the manual labour each and every day, their attention span reduced and reserved to their living.




Passionate about, Creative Writing & Fiction, UI, Software Philosophy. Enthusiastic about Flutter, TLA+, Python, Decentralized systems. /