Monday, November 9, 2009

"The Writer" sample paragraph

In "The Writer", Richard Wilbur remembers an incident that helped him understand anew the travails of his daughter who is upstairs in her room, trying to compose a story. He uses two distinct but contrasting metaphors. First, he overhears his daughter typing in the "prow" of their house, the sound of her typewriter like "a chain hauled over a gunwale". Her life has "great cargo", some "heavy". The speaker concludes this moment with a wistful hoping she has a "lucky passage". Then, remembering how a starling once got caught in the same room, and fought for its life to escape, the speaker rejects his first metaphor--of the writing life as some kind of journey--and reaffirms, by the image of the persistent, trapped starling, that writing is more like a life-or-death attempt to break free from that which would confine us than a long journey to someplace else.

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