Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

Two poems by Roy Marshall


    Icarus’s Mother


Missing from the Musee des Beaux Arts,
a portrait of the slave girl, her name
unimportant or forgotten, who gave birth
to Icarus when she was just fifteen.
The old Masters never painted this;
a table littered with feathers, beads of wax,
wood shavings and string, and at the window
a still young woman, gazing out to sea.
Some things don’t change; somewhere, right now,
a high-flying boy is in his mother’s thoughts;
and even if the splash he makes goes once more
unnoticed or ignored, the one who carried him
already knows something is wrong, while
the ‘expensive delicate ship’ sails calmly on.


    Olaus and the Swallows


In his History of the Northern Peoples
Olaus Magnus wrote that in autumn,

rather than making for the moon,
swallows gathered at lakes and ponds

to sink down through water and mud
linked bill to bill, wing to wing, foot to foot.

He told how nets full of birds were hauled in,
and of the vain attempts to revive them.

Only experienced fisher folk left the long braids
of swallows alone, knowing how they break

for the sky in spring, and rain down their songs in blessing.