Aug 29 – “The Writer” Richard Wilbur

Monday, August 29   “Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.”

Students moved into our residence halls these past two days  —  muggy weather,  pelting rains too.  Moms and Dads and students hauling bedroom and study room stuff onto and off elevators.  Settling in;  a new year.  This morning the classes for Term One, 2016-17 begin.  The parking lots get crowded.

Last night I had a poem ready for today, a fresh and powerful voice of the city, a Detroit voice.  This morning, though, I decided to move that poem back to Wednesday.  Richard Wilbur’s “The Writer” speaks to the hopes and restraints of parents as their children launch themselves out into a wider world.  The verse that leads this post comes three stanzas in, such a fine blessing when helping the leap out from home.

We ran “The Writer” on May 13, just about Commencement Day.  It works for start-up day too.    Reading out loud remains a good idea.  Have a blest work week.


john sj

Today’s Post  “the writer”

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.

     richard wilbur  March 1, 1921  –

About Wilbur’s poems, one reviewer for The Washington Post said, “Throughout his career Wilbur has shown, within the compass of his classicism, enviable variety. His poems describe fountains and fire trucks, grasshoppers and toads, European cities and country pleasures. All of them are easy to read, while being suffused with an astonishing verbal music and a compacted thoughtfulness that invite sustained reflection.”  {}

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