Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Poem for Saturday

This is another poem from Morning Song, the new poetry anthology for either new parents, all parents, or anyone who's ever been born (depending on who you ask).

Richard Wilbur is a bit of a local hero around here. He graduated from Amherst College in 1942 and lives up in Cummington, in the hilltowns. He recently turned 90 and still teaches at Amherst and gives readings.

I hadn't known this poem before I found it in the anthology, but I think it's lovely. If you go to Poets.org, the website of The Academy of American Poets, you can hear him read it here.

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.
Richard Wilbur

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