Since yesterday’s poem was devoted to my friend’s son, I thought it fitting to address today’s piece to daughters and so we have Richard Wilbur’s piece, The Writer.
Wilbur has written many very beautiful poems. He is one of the few contemporary poets known for form and meter. His work is remarkable for a pretty strict adherence to formal elements, but stays accessible and these are poems you want to turn to again and again for the meaning and the music. As a poet, it’s very difficult to write with this kind of depth and clarity. Most of us would be satisfied with just one of these qualities. Wilbur is that kind of writer you have to sort of hate because he makes it look so easy.
I chose this piece because of my girls. Izzy could very possibly end up a writer. Amalia has recently declared that she doesn’t hate poetry anymore. She spent her last day of spring break drawing. It’s something she goes back to again and again. My girls have many interests and abilities, it’s impossible to know what they’ll end up doing. But maybe one of them will end up an artist.
I also chose this poem because I want to be the daughter in the piece. I grew up in a loving home. I’m close with my parents and my sisters. They encourage me, even though I suspect they think I’m slightly, amusingly touched at times. I chose this piece because we all want to be seen, perhaps especially for those crazy passions.
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 is 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.