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Constantly Risking Absurdity
Transcript of Constantly Risking Absurdity
Constantly Risking Absurdity
Constantly risking absurdity
whenever he performs
above the heads
of his audience
the poet like an acrobat
climbs on rime
to a high wire of his own making
and balancing on eyebeams
above a sea of faces
paces his way
to the other side of day
and sleight-of-foot tricks
and other high theatrics
and all without mistaking
for what it may not be
For he's the super realist
who must perforce perceive
before the taking of each stance or step
in his supposed advance
toward that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
to start her death-defying leap
a little charleychaplin man
who may or may not catch
her fair eternal form
spreadeagled in the empty air
inconsistent metric patterns and rhyme scheme
The lack of consistency in the structure reflects the insecurity and vulnerability felt by authors, whose future is dependent on what becomes of their works
Quote: “the poet like an acrobat / climbs on rime / to a high wire of his own making”
“rime...of his own making”
can easily be broken, similar to the way a writer’s work can easily damage their reputation or cause controversy.
As writers, their reputation is defined by the criticism of their audience, often proving to be an obstacle to their success.
Type of Poem
The Poet as part of the audience
Allows the reader to visualize the chaotic and tense nature of the circus act, while figuratively representing the life of an author
Reflecting on his life as a writer who “performs about the heads of his audience”, constantly in a vulnerable state in which his reputation is dependent on the criticism he receives.
Occasion / Setting
"Constantly Risking Absurdity"
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
"When he performs above the heads/of his audience"
the poet/ circus performer is constantly in exhibition and exposes himself for the entertainment of others all the while encountering criticism and risking his reputation and self-image
"Balancing on eye beams / above a sea of faces"
The circus performer like the poet must withstand judgment
inconsistency in the poem’s rhyme scheme, metric pattern, and overall layout
inner turmoil writers are faced with as a result of their attempts to create a self-image through their work and satisfy the judgments of their audience
Emphasizes the chaotic atmosphere
Ferlinghetti's use of vivid imagery, symbols, and allusions develops a clear understanding that one must strive for self-satisfaction instead of complaisance in what one does because it is impossible for one to satisfy all of society's differing criticisms.
"balancing on eyebeams above a sea of faces"
portrays treacherous, unstable environment in which poet is constantly being judged and criticized
"before the taking of each stance or step in his supposed advance toward that still higher perch"
shows poet's dreams and aspirations to someday please his entire audience.
"waits with gravity to start her death-defying leap"
demonstrates poet's insecurity in publishing his work since he in uncertain whether it will satisfy his audience
"Beauty stands and waits with gravity to start her death-defying leap"
"Beauty" symbolizes the poet's work to which he has dedicated much time and feeling in hopes of making it be accepted by all.
Despite the poet's pride in his work, he is still uncertain as to whether all of his effort is enough to please his audience.
"a little charleychaplin man"
Charley Chaplin was a silent film comedian, who strived to entertain his audience.
The only way that the poet feels he can get his ideas across is through his work.
Allusion serves to show how the poet is only striving to please his audience and not considering the self-satisfaction that has come from his work.
"Constantly risking absurdity and death" (lines 1-2)
the extent of a person's risks
the effect of society's criticisms
"above a sea of faces paces his way to the other side of day performing entrechats and sleight-of-foot tricks and other high theatrics" (lines 10-15)
the difficulty of pleasing society's expectations
One should work towards fulfilling self-satisfaction over society's high maintenance standards .
free verse poem:
insecurity and vulnerability
chaotic and dramatic
the balancing, the struggle towards the other side
Simple, casual, and obscure
creates an atmosphere of judgement and criticism
Euphony is demonstrated as Ferlinghetti's usage of diction conceals the inner turmoil writers and individuals face when attempting to satisfy the expectations of their critiques
Ferlinghetti creates a false image of comfort and amusement through diction and the setting of a circus