The story of Icarus is a classic Greek myth that has fascinated people for centuries all over the world. The tale of his demise has been retold many times throughout history. The myth has been honored in art, songs, poetry and by literary artists, with one apparently inspiring the other to explore the tale in one different approach or another. Two of the most appealing are the actual myth of Daedalus and Icarus and poem "To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Triumph", which is based on the myth. The attitudes toward flight in each of works contrast and can be interpreted in a number of ways.
From the earliest days, humans have dreamed of flying and have attempted to achieve it. In Greek myth, Daedalus and his son Icarus were both imprisoned in the Labyrinth, which was an enormous maze used to sacrifice young men and women to the flesh-eating Minotaur. King Minos of Crete, who had commissioned the Labyrinth, was unwilling to let Daedalus leave, so Daedalus made wings for himself and his son Icarus. Before the two set off, he warned Icarus, "Don't fly too high or the sun will melt the wax on your wings and you will fall. Follow me closely. Don't set your own course." However, his son Icarus was not so careful. He saw these wings as a new freedom, a toy that allowed him to explore the endless sky. When Icarus flew too high, in spite of his father's warnings, his wings melted, and he fell into the sea and drowned. His more cautious father flew to safety.
The symbolism of the boundaries in which Icarus must fly is a significant theme of the myth. Greek and Roman mythology often portrays flying was a godly power. By conducting the act of flying and exceeding mankind's limits, Icarus challenged his mortality. Another theme of this myth is to listening to your parents (or elders). By defying his father's instructions, Icarus led to his own downfall. .
In the poem "To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Triumph", Anne Sexton alludes to the flight of Icarus and Daedalus.