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The Writer by Richard Wilbur

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by

Erin Fogarty

on 14 May 2015

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Transcript of The Writer by Richard Wilbur

The Writer by Richard Wilbur
Themes
Symbolism
And retreated, not to affright it;
And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
We watched the sleek, wild, dark

And iridescent creature
Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove
To the hard floor, or the desk-top,

And wait then, humped and bloody,
For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits
Rose when, suddenly sure,

It lifted off from a chair-back,
Beating a smooth course for the right window
And clearing the sill of the world.

It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish
What I wished you before, but harder.
Erin Fogarty
The Writer by Richard Wilbur
In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.

I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.

Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.

But now it is she who pauses,
As if to reject my thought and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which

The whole house seems to be thinking,
And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
Of strokes, and again is silent.




Allegory
"This poem is a poem about my daughter Ellen who is a very good short-story writer and is about to publish a new and selected book of her short stories. I'm wishing her a lucky passage, and its a passage both in making connections with the world, getting out of oneself... You're hoping that the young writer will do well... that they will be successful coming to terms with the world by way of the common." - Richard Wilbur

Final Stanza:
It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish
What I had wished you before, but harder.
A Parent's Love for their Child
Life is a Voyage
In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.

I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.

Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.

But now it is she who pauses,
As if to reject my thought and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which

The whole house seems to be thinking,
And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
Of strokes, and again is silent.


I remember the dazed starling
Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago;
How we stole in, lifted a sash

And retreated, not to affright it;
And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
We watched the sleek, wild, dark

And iridescent creature
Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove
To the hard floor, or the desk-top,

And wait then, humped and bloody,
For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits
Rose when, suddenly sure,

It lifted off from a chair-back,
Beating a smooth course for the right window
And clearing the sill of the world.

It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish
What I wished you before, but harder.

Everyone will have ups and downs on their "voyage" throughout life, including the author's daughter. His word choice and metaphors reference a cargo ship to express her voyage.

"Prow" (Line 1)
"Like a chain hauled over a gunwale." (Line 6)
"Her life is a great cargo... I wish her a lucky passage." (Lines 8-9)
"How we stole in, lifted a sash/And retreated, not to affright it;" (Lines 18-19)

"And wait then.. For the wits to try it again" (Lines 25-26)

"And clearing the sill of the world" (Line 30)
Starling Daughter
As a father, the author knows he can only show his daughter the right path and wait back in belief that she will succeed, but he still hopes for the best for her.

Full transcript