Poem that makes me think – Failing and Flying, Jack Gilbert

Standard
Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It’s the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.

Failing and Flying

I’m feeling in an optimistic kind of mood today, obviously, because I really like this idea. That the end of something good is not a failure but simply that; an ending. People are always so quick to show their wisdom in the aftermath: the marriage was doomed to fail from the start, I knew that job wouldn’t work out, I could have told you that restaurant wasn’t any good. What is it about the human condition that makes us gloat over other’s misfortune in this way, by saying we could see all along where things would go wrong? In any case, with this outlook, those amongst you fond of this I told you so mentality, it is you who is wrong; for an ending is not a failure, simply a closing of a chapter.

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