“Failing and Flying” by Jack Gilbert

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.

Jack Gilbert, “Failing and Flying” from Refusing Heaven. Copyright © 2005 by Jack Gilbert.


Poet David Bauman came to the rescue when I was looking for a sound recording of Gilbert’s beautiful poem. You may listen to David read Gilbert’s piece below, and you may also visit David’s blog The Dad Poet to read his accompanying post and to listen to his song choice pairing “Why Walk When You Can Fly” by the lovely Mary Chapin Carpenter. Thanks again, David, we appreciate you!

13 thoughts on ““Failing and Flying” by Jack Gilbert

    1. Christy Anna Beguins

      Hi James! (Same Christy here)

      Glad you enjoyed. I was late to discover Mr. Gilbert, but I’m so happy that I finally did.

      He died in 2012, but put out Refusing Heaven in 2005, and then The Dance Most of All in 2009. I highly recommend both books to everyone.

      The last Sunday in this June. June flew by, as the months seem to increasingly do so. Hope you and yours are well. -c


    1. Christy Anna Beguins

      Hi David!
      So glad you enjoyed. I looked for a good reading, briefly, but didn’t see one. I’d love to add yours to the post. Feel free to reply with a link if you have an on-line copy anywhere. Hope summer is treating you well…I know it’s a super busy one for you, and a super happy one too 🙂 -c

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Reblogged this on The Dad Poet and commented:
    How lovely, not only to be reminded of a favorite poem, but to have my voice and post, featured on one of my favorite blogs! Thank you for your uplifting words, Christy, the ones you write and the ones you share.


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