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"The Writer" by Richard Wilbur

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Cassandra Rubino

on 22 April 2014

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Transcript of "The Writer" by Richard Wilbur

"The Writer" by Richard Wilbur
The speaker in the poem is a father and writer speaking about his daughter who is also writing.
The father's tone is one of compassion and empathy. He understands and shares the feelings of his daughter.
- free verse (no rhyme)

narrative poem (speaker tells a story about his daughter and the difficulties in life)
- 3 line stanzas
Where does the poem take place?
Who is the speaker speaking to?
The father is in the stairwell listening and observing his daughter writing in her room at the prow (front) of the house.
He may be addressing parents who relate to him as they watch their children grow up or speaking to teenagers going through changes and experiencing good and bad feelings like his daughter in the poem.
What does the starling in the poem symbolize?

The starling symbolizes the struggles and the journey young people go through in their life.
Big Question:
Why is the journey of life filled with difficulties and victories?
Answer to the Big Question:
The struggles we endure and the tough experiences we face help us grow and become stronger so that we may become successful in life.
In her room at the
of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a
Metaphor: implies daughter is captain of the ship because her room is in front
Imagery: describes the room
She needs to write about her life experiences in order to understand her life better.
I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door
a commotion of typewriter -keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.
Simile: Compares her working on a typewriter to a chain holding the gunwale on a ship. Her work keeps her in her room just as the chain holds the gunwale (upper edge of a ship's side).
Young as she is, the

Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it
I wish her a lucky passage.
All the daughter's experiences
difficult experiences of writing and of life in general
Metaphor: Compares her life to a heavy ship which eventually unloads just as he hopes she will eventually overcome her difficulties and have a lucky future
But now it is
she who pauses,
As if to
reject my thought
and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which
She doesn't want his help; She is trying to be independent.
The whole house seems to be thinking
And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
Of strokes, and again is silent.
Personification: House is given the human characteristic of thinking
I remember the dazed starling
Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago;
How we stole in, lifted a sash
I remember the dazed
Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago;
How we stole in,
lifted a sash
Type of bird- trapped in the room as others watch him struggle to get free, just like the speaker is watching his daughter struggle to write
They opened a window hoping the bird would find his own way out
And retreated,
not to affright it
And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
We watched the sleek, wild, dark
They are careful not to harm or scare the bird so it can escape on its own
iridescent creature
Batter against the brilliance,
drop like a glove
To the hard floor
, or the desk-top,
The starling struggles to get free
Simile: Compares the starling to a glove dropping to the ground
And wait then, humped and
For the wits to
try it again
; and how our spirits
Rose when, suddenly sure,

Imagery: Describes the bird's appearance
The starling doesn't give up. He keeps trying to escape.
It lifted off from a chair-back,
Beating a smooth course for the
clearing the sill of the world
The starling finds the right window to freedom and the daughter finds the right words for her story
The starling finally flies free after his long struggle
It is always
a matter,
my darling,

Of life or death
, as I had forgotten. I wish
What I wished you before, but harder.
As a writer, he realizes how difficult it is to be a great writer and understand her struggle.
He wishes her luck and hopes she will find her own way to be successful like the starling finallly flying into the sky.
Big Question:
Why is the journey of life filled with difficulties and victories?
"If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters."
-Fredrick Douglass
"The Writer" illustrates the challenge of achieving success in writing and in life. The starling's battle for freedom gives it strength to finally fly free. The daughter also struggles before she can write her story. The father realizes she must find her own way to escape her problems like the starling.
The extended metaphor in the first half compares the daughter's journey in life to a ship's voyage. The second half compares the starling finding the right escape window to her overcoming her struggles to write her story. The trapped starling symbolizes her struggles as they both try to overcome difficulties.
Full transcript