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Poem: The Writer Essay, Research Paper

The Writer

To the best of my recollection, this is the first poem that I have read, written by Richard Wilbur. While I have yet to experience the thrills of fatherhood, I would be astounded to learn that the author was not a father himself. When reading this poem, I actually felt the compassion, and love, for which the author was feeling towards his daughter. In my opinion, there are actually two stories being told within this poem. The first simply being a narrative of what the author is experiencing at a certain moment of time, and the second is that of an underlying theme of love and pride that a father feels towards his daughter.

The poem begins with the father listening to his daughter typing a story on her typewriter. The authors description of her typing as, “Like a chain hauled over a gunwale”, gives the reader the feeling that she is really into her work and typing with all of her might. It is clear that the daughter takes her writing seriously. The father then comments on his young daughter’s struggle through life. He states, “Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it is heavy”. While he doesn’t give details of the hardships she has incurred, it is clear that she has had some sorrow in her life.

The father’s enjoyment of listening to his daughter’s labor of love is suddenly ended, upon hearing the typing cease. He states that the stoppage was, “As if to reject my thought and its easy figure”. It’s as if his world has temporarily stopped, and he feels the pain that his daughter is feeling while looking for her next words to write. The quietness must be intense, as he states; “The whole house seems to be thinking”. And then, as quickly as the typing had stopped, it began again.

At this point in the poem, the father starts to reminisce about an incident that occurred two years prior, in the very same room that his daughter is working. He tells a story of a starling, which had become trapped, inside the room. Both the father and the daughter watched as the bird struggled to find its way out of the room. The details given by the author, give an image of a beautiful bird that is fighting for its life, to get back to it’s comfort zone outdoors. He uses the lines, “Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove To the hard floor, or the desk-top”.

I see this as an analogy of his daughter battering against the keys, maybe throwing her hands to her head, and slumping over. The struggle of the bird has now become the struggle of the daughter, seeking to find that which gives her fulfillment. The following stanza in the poem is my favorite, “It lifted off the chair-back, Beating a smooth course for the right window And clearing the sill of the world”. The father is remembering the struggle of the bird, and how it’s persistence paid off and allowed it to reach its goal. This is clearly his thoughts and hopes for his daughter’s current struggle.

The poem finishes with the father speaking directly to his daughter. He leads the reader to believe that while the bird was struggling to survive, his daughter also is struggling to survive in her own way. The battle to overcome an instance of life and death is no easy toll. He feels the pain of his daughter and wishes her the strength to get through her struggles and achieve her goal.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading and analyzing this poem. The author used very strong adjectives to convey his points across to the reader. The style, in which this poem was written, made it very easy to read and comprehend. While it could have been easy to just read through this poem and write about its meaning, there were so many underlying themes, that it caused me to re-read it several times. The more I read the poem, the more I completely understood it’s meaning and enjoyed it.


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