Musings, Nits, and Praises: Lit Bit #2

Musings, Nits, and Praises

A farrago of all things deemed blog-worthy by a music-loving, poetry-writing, humor-seeking English teacher


Lit Bit #2

I managed to cover a few post-WWII pieces with my juniors last week before we began reviewing for finals (today was Day II of finals). Without the time to cover the entire unit, I had a chance to select writers I particularly enjoy--that meant Robert Lowell, Theodore Roethke, and Richard Wilbur among others. Here's one of my favorite poems by Wilbur:

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.

4 Responses to “Lit Bit #2”

  1. # Blogger Todd

    It had been a long time since I had read a poem like that. I enjoyed it very much! Thanks for posting it Jason.  

  2. # Blogger Jason

    That poem speaks to me even though I don't have any children yet. I imagine when I do, I'll find it even more poignant.  

  3. # Blogger Cat

    I enjoyed this immensely as well. I suspect that you are right that it will mean even more to you when you have children of your own. My experience thus far is that being a parent is one of the most joyous yet also one of the most heartwrenching things I have ever done. He expresses sentiments here that I feel so often but could never get into words myself.

    Thanks for sharing.  

  4. # Blogger rebecca

    His use of the bird metaphor here is just masterful. The word "bloody" shook me. Wow.  

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