Thursday, June 20, 2024

Poetry Friday: Richard Wilbur, "The Writer"

Although I've shared Richard Wilbur's "The Writer" numerous times (along with loads of other Wilbur treasures), I never tire of this gorgeous poem. It fits beautifully with the relationship theme I've been chasing — this week, we drop in on a father and his junior-high-school-aged daughter. (I love the final lines so much.) 

The Writer

by 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,

(Read the rest here, at And to hear Richard Wilbur read it, go here.)



Irene Latham said...

Yes, that true. Thank you, Karen. xo

Tabatha said...

It's a beauty! I love how he creates a mood, uses sounds to lead us into feelings, makes us a little breathless with the starling, and then circles around so expertly.

Marcie Flinchum Atkins said...

Oh I love this! I've never read it before. Thank you for sharing!

Linda B said...

It's full of so much love, Karen. I love how he uses words that show the exact moment, like "A stillness greatens". Beautiful! Thanks for sharing, new to me!

Denise Krebs said...

Ah, what a gentle father wishing the best for his daughter. That poem is beautiful, Karen. Thank you for sharing it. Here is my favorite. Would that all parents recognized the heavy cargo their children carry.
"Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.'

Rose Cappelli said...

Thanks so much for sharing that poem, Karen. It is new to me and I love how Wilbur uses the analogy of the bird with what is happening with the daughter. Lovely!

Melanie Bettinelli said...

A perennial favorite. It's such a perfect poem. Clearing the sill of the world....

Susan T. said...

Oh, lovely. Thank you, Karen. I hadn't read this one before. I can picture the scene.

Karen Edmisten said...

Oh, I'm so happy to introduce many of you to this beautiful poem! Wilbur was indeed a master. The starling metaphor ("Batter against the brilliance" — magnificent) is perfect.

Thanks for stopping by!

Mary Lee said...

This poem gets me every time. Keep sharing it as often as you want/need!

Karen Edmisten said...

Gets to me every single time too, Mary Lee. It's enduring.

Patricia Franz said...

What I really love in this poem is the holding-back, the father's good judgment to let the writer battle.

Karen Edmisten said...

Patricia, yes!

laurasalas said...

Oh my gosh, that ending. But harder. What a powerful poem--thanks for sharing it, Karen!

Sally Murphy said...

What a poem, and what a bond. Like others, the close is what really hit me:
I wish
What I wished you before, but harder

Jane @ said...

Oh, that ending! As a parent myself, it gives me goosebumps.

Michelle Kogan said...

Such a powerfully strong poem and tight-knit bond, thanks for sharing it Karen!