Poetry Responses

The Writer
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 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 small 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.

There once was a time where I made it a point to write everyday. I do not mean writing essays for school everyday as I seem to have to do now. Rather, there once was a time where I wrote poems and stories. I wrote anywhere between 15-25 poems per month when I was in tenth and part of eleventh grade. However, something happened, I am still not sure what, and my drive to write suddenly died. Every now and then my drive comes back, but those times are few and far between. Any poem I try to write usually ends up in nothing but about 20 scratched out lines nowadays.

Once being a writer, and still hoping to be in the near future, I can empathize with the daughter of the speaker of this poem. There are just times where feelings and ideas must be exposed to the soft and tangible surfaces of paper. From the description of the daughter, I feel as if the girl is desperate to get something out, but sometimes words get the best of us, and we are lost of the completely. Still, the speaker, be it the father or the mother of the child, sees things as they most probably should be seen. The girl is not just writing, but she is doing something much greater. The speaker feels that the daughter is growing through writing, reflecting and expressing feelings thoughts and vices. I must agree, for when one writes, one grows, even if it is involuntarily.

To begin at the beginning of the poem, the speaker describes the room, which has windows to let light in, but the majority of the windows are blocked by the heart shaped leaves of a Linden tree. This gives a clue to what kind of story the daughter is writing. At the least, it is a story of passion, and at most, one of love and heartbreak. And as most writing comes from within, the speaker feels that the girl is attacking her emotions almost in the same fashion as someone with a machine gun would his enemy, with a furious flurry. The speaker can't help to listen in on her daughter's typing, and to think that maybe there is something that makes the daughter's heart grow heavier, and the speaker only wishes for the daughter to overcome whatever strife might've fallen upon her.

At this thought the daughter suddenly stops at the same time the speaker wishes her well. The speaker feels that she is rejecting the speaker's thought. Reminds me of times where people said "It'll be okay Chris." and I suddenly felt annoyed because I didn't want the well-wisher to know that there was anything wrong in the first place. There was something else that bothered me as well, the fact that no "It'll be okay..." would really solve anything other than to let me know that someone out there might care. If words such as those could solve my problems, life would be too easy. I feel, according to the speaker referring to her thought as an "easy figure", that the daughter would react to a similar situation in the same way.

The house has a very pensive feel during the pause of typing, but that was shortly shattered by a sudden resurgence in typing, as if the right thought has been reached. But just as quickly, there is another pause, as this new thought brings up other questions that must be answered with more of those elusive things that English scholars like to call "words." This on again process went on often in my writings, and it can sometimes become quite a burden to deal with; it is much like a hammer hitting my brain repetitively.

I feel that the speaker understands this fact in remembering the time when a little and ordinary bird flew into the room through a partially open window. The speaker and the daughter watched through a cracked door as the poor bird, who looked quite exotic in the house though it would've been very ordinary outside, tried to fly out but kept flying into closed windows. The bird began to bleed for its troubles, having to develop a new set of courageous feelings to even fathom trying to fly out once again. However, the bird eventually flew off into the freedom that was the brilliant outside world, and all was well.

The struggles of the writing girl and the flying bird are similar in many ways. They were very sure in the ways that they were going, the writer with her thoughts and the bird with its flight. They both ended up getting stuck. From there, it became a bloody struggle to get out of their rut, though the bird and the girl bled two very different kinds of blood. Try after try, the bird eventually escaped its imprisonment and its trouble.

The speaker feels that the girl will do the same. After reflecting upon the bird incident however, the speaker realizes how important it is for the girl to get through her rut and keep writing. If the story she is writing deals with her own personal emotions, then it is very important that she able to deal with them through writing so she can grow into a better prepared person. One can gain some maturity through writing. Thus, as the speaker states, writing on personal issues or troubles could be a matter of life or death, if not for the human person, at least for the human psyche. Thus the speaker walks away with a greater hope that the daughter is able to get out of her writing rut.

Take one step back and read some good poetry.

If you have low expectations, go here and be happy.