'The Writer' by Richard Wilbur
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The Mind-Reader1976In 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 whichThe 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 sashAnd retreated, not to affright it;
And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
We watched the sleek, wild, darkAnd 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.
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Brilliance of Richard Wilbur's "The Writer"
When it comes to poetry, few writers can match the mastery of Richard Wilbur. His poem "The Writer" is a prime example of his talent, as he skillfully weaves together vivid imagery, metaphor, and symbolism to create a powerful and thought-provoking piece.
At its core, "The Writer" is a meditation on the creative process and the struggle to bring one's innermost thoughts and feelings to life on the page. The poem opens with a striking image of the writer sitting at his desk, his pen poised over a blank sheet of paper:
"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."
Right away, Wilbur establishes a sense of intimacy and vulnerability. We are invited into the writer's private space, where we can witness the act of creation as it unfolds. The use of the word "prow" is particularly evocative, suggesting both the forward momentum of the writing process and the potential danger that comes with exposing one's innermost thoughts to the world.
As the poem continues, we see the writer struggling to find the right words to express his ideas:
"But I am too brought by hers to break the silence: She has folded her hands on the tidy and laid them Quietly over the ironed folds of her dress."
Here, Wilbur uses the metaphor of folding hands to suggest both the writer's restraint and his reverence for the creative process. The "ironed folds" of the dress convey a sense of order and discipline, as if the writer is trying to impose some structure on the chaotic world of his imagination.
The poem then takes a turn as Wilbur introduces the image of a bird that has flown into the room:
"The air is alive with levitating snowflakes; The bird is making its rounds."
At first, this seems like a simple, whimsical detail. But as the bird continues to flit around the room, we begin to see it as a metaphor for the writer's thoughts and ideas. The bird is elusive and hard to pin down, just as the writer's ideas are slippery and hard to articulate. And yet, the bird is also full of life and energy, just as the writer's imagination is a source of vitality and creativity.
As the poem draws to a close, Wilbur brings these various threads together in a powerful final image:
"On the tongue the taste of dust and ashes, And in the throat a grief That has no word, no name, no form, No end."
Here, we see the writer grappling with the inevitable limitations of language. Despite his best efforts, there are some things that simply cannot be expressed in words. And yet, even in the face of this frustration and grief, there is a sense of beauty and transcendence. The "taste of dust and ashes" suggests the impermanence of life, while the "grief that has no word, no name, no form, no end" hints at the ineffable mysteries that lie beyond human understanding.
In the end, "The Writer" is a testament to the power of poetry and the human imagination. Through his masterful use of imagery and metaphor, Richard Wilbur has captured the essence of the creative process and the struggle to express the inexpressible. Anyone who has ever tried to write or create something from nothing will recognize themselves in these lines, and be inspired to keep trying, even in the face of the most daunting obstacles.
Indeed, this poem is a masterpiece, and it's no wonder that Richard Wilbur is considered one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. His use of language is simply breathtaking, and his ability to convey complex emotions and ideas through simple, everyday images is nothing short of miraculous. "The Writer" is a true gem, and a testament to the enduring power of poetry.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Writer: A Masterpiece of Poetry by Richard Wilbur
Richard Wilbur's "The Writer" is a classic poem that has stood the test of time. It is a masterpiece of poetry that captures the essence of creativity and the struggles of a writer. The poem is a reflection of the writer's innermost thoughts and emotions, as he tries to create something meaningful and enduring. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, structure, and literary devices used in the poem to understand its deeper meaning.
The poem revolves around the theme of creativity and the struggles of a writer. The writer is depicted as a person who is constantly battling with his inner demons to create something that is meaningful and enduring. He is haunted by the fear of failure and the uncertainty of his own abilities. The poem also explores the theme of time and the fleeting nature of life. The writer is aware that time is running out, and he must create something that will outlast him.
The poem is structured in four stanzas, each consisting of four lines. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, and the meter is iambic tetrameter. The use of a consistent rhyme scheme and meter creates a sense of rhythm and flow in the poem. The structure of the poem is simple and straightforward, which allows the reader to focus on the content and the emotions conveyed by the writer.
Wilbur uses a variety of literary devices to convey the emotions and thoughts of the writer. The most prominent literary device used in the poem is imagery. The writer uses vivid and descriptive imagery to create a picture of his inner world. For example, in the first stanza, he describes his mind as a "dark room" and his thoughts as "birds." This imagery creates a sense of mystery and intrigue, as the reader is drawn into the writer's world.
Another literary device used in the poem is metaphor. The writer uses metaphor to compare his thoughts to birds, his pen to a wand, and his words to "a flock of words." These metaphors create a sense of magic and wonder, as the writer transforms his thoughts into something tangible and real.
The use of repetition is another literary device used in the poem. The writer repeats the phrase "In her room at the prow of the house" in the first and third stanzas. This repetition creates a sense of continuity and reinforces the importance of the writer's creative space.
The poem begins with the writer describing his mind as a "dark room." This imagery creates a sense of mystery and intrigue, as the reader is drawn into the writer's world. The writer then describes his thoughts as "birds," which suggests that his thoughts are fleeting and difficult to capture. This imagery creates a sense of chaos and disorder, as the writer struggles to make sense of his thoughts.
In the second stanza, the writer describes his pen as a wand, which suggests that he has the power to create something magical and transformative. He then describes his words as "a flock of words," which suggests that his words are alive and have the power to take flight. This imagery creates a sense of wonder and excitement, as the writer transforms his thoughts into something tangible and real.
The third stanza is a repetition of the first stanza, with the addition of the phrase "In her room at the prow of the house." This repetition creates a sense of continuity and reinforces the importance of the writer's creative space. The writer then describes the passing of time, and the fear that he will not be able to create something that will outlast him. This creates a sense of urgency and desperation, as the writer realizes that time is running out.
The final stanza is a reflection on the writer's own mortality. He realizes that he will not be able to create something that will outlast him, but he takes comfort in the fact that his words will live on. This creates a sense of acceptance and resignation, as the writer comes to terms with his own mortality.
In conclusion, Richard Wilbur's "The Writer" is a masterpiece of poetry that captures the essence of creativity and the struggles of a writer. The poem is a reflection of the writer's innermost thoughts and emotions, as he tries to create something meaningful and enduring. The use of vivid imagery, metaphor, and repetition creates a sense of magic and wonder, as the writer transforms his thoughts into something tangible and real. The poem is a reminder that creativity is a powerful force that can transcend time and space, and that the words we leave behind can have a lasting impact on the world.
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