Many of you will know that this coming Wednesday is St. Andrew’s Day, so I wanted – for the second week running – to use a poem by a Scottish poet. And then, given last week’s Y11 Sixth Form Evening, I also decided to use one of the poems our Y13 students are currently studying.
The Glaswegian Carol Ann Duffy is the current and first woman Poet Laureate. As part of our A Level, we are currently looking at her wonderful collection, ‘The World’s Wife’. In this suite of poems, Duffy tells the story of women who have been forgotten by history because they were associated with famous men, including Darwin, Elvis, and King Midas. The poems are often caustically funny, occasionally angry, but always absolutely fascinating.
Mrs. Icarus riffs on the ancient myth of Icarus and Daedulus. The latter, a skilled craftsman and engineer built the Minotaur’s Lair for King Minos, but was later imprisoned. They built wings to fly away from imprisonment, and Daedulus warned his son not to fly too close to the sun, or too low, avoiding the sea spray. The youth, as is often the case, ignored his father’s advice – the wax in his wings melted, and he fell to drown in the Aegean sea. For centuries, the myth has served as a warning against pride and recklessness.
Duffy’s poem perfectly retains the important aspects of he original story whilst giving it a fresh, Feminist (but not overtly so) slant. Enjoy.
I’m not the first or the last
to stand on a hillock,
watching the man she married
prove to the world
he’s a total, utter, absolute, Grade A pillock.