Monday, October 31, 2016

Poem of the Week 10.31.16

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 a 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 

When I read this poem for the first time in my sophomore English 102 class, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I had just switched to the English major and wasn't completely sure of myself. I'm still not completely sure of myself. But every time I revisit this poem and enter its world, I'm taken back to that place when I was (for once) sure of myself.
Those of us who are English majors and seniors simultaneously, are indeed rare creatures. And because only a few of us emerge from the muck and mire alive, no one warns us about how difficult it'll be, how quickly we'll have to make serious career and life decisions, how traumatic graduate school applications and GRE's will be. We are the dazed starlings, battling and struggling to leave through the same entrance we came in, eager to clear the sills of our world. And also just hoping to God we don't screw up.
But often times what we don't realize is we batter against our own brilliance. We fight it with vigor. Our intelligence, aspirations, doubts and fears all join forces into one beast, one enemy, and we decide we must defeat it in order to succeed. We sleek, dark, iridescent creatures fight and fight. And with each attack, the beast punches us back down to our books and our desktops, and laughs.
Yet, to its surprise, we rise each time we fall. Though we're hunched over and bloody, we don't quit--we wait. We wait for the wits to try again.
But what if the beast is just as tired, just as confused as we are? What if it's sick of the fight too?
What would happen if we invited the beast into us? If we gave it a name, a dwelling place? What if then--we finally fly?

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