The Writer

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,
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.
 
From New and Collected Poems, published by Harcourt Brace, 1988. Copyright © 1969 by Richard Wilbur. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Poems by This Author

A Wedding Toast by Richard Wilbur
St. John tells how
Advice to a Prophet by Richard Wilbur
When you come, as you soon must, to the streets of our city,
June Light by Richard Wilbur
Your voice, with clear location of June days
Love Calls Us to the Things of This World by Richard Wilbur
The eyes open to cry of pulleys
Lying by Richard Wilbur
To claim at a dead party to have spotted a grackle
The House by Richard Wilbur
Sometimes, on waking, she would close her eyes
The Prisoner of Zenda by Richard Wilbur
At the end a
The Reader by Richard Wilbur
She is going back these days


Further Reading

Poems About Daughters
A Little Tooth
by Thomas Lux
A Newborn Girl at Passover
by Nan Cohen
A Prayer for my Daughter
by W. B. Yeats
Achill
by Derek Mahon
Daughters in Poetry
by Eavan Boland
Daughters, 1900
by Marilyn Nelson
For a Daughter Who Leaves
by Janice Mirikitani
Heart's Needle
by W. D. Snodgrass
Home After Three Months Away
by Robert Lowell
Interstate Highway
by James Applewhite
Ladders
by Elizabeth Alexander
Morning Song
by Sylvia Plath
My Daughter All Yourn
by Farid Matuk
My Daughter Among the Names
by Farid Matuk
Poems about Daughters
Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah
by Patricia Smith
The Bistro Styx
by Rita Dove
The Pomegranate
by Eavan Boland
Today A Rainstorm Caught Me
by Matt Hart
Waiting for Rain
by Ellen Bass
Poems For Graduation
As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII [All the world's a stage]
by William Shakespeare
Beyond the Years
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Dreams
by Langston Hughes
First Gestures
by Julia Spicher Kasdorf
Friends, I Will Not Cease
by Vachel Lindsay
If—
by Rudyard Kipling
Invictus
by William Ernest Henley
Knows how to forget! (433)
by Emily Dickinson
My Heart Leaps Up
by William Wordsworth
The Character of a Happy Life
by Sir Henry Wotton
The Choir Invisible
by George Eliot
The Graduate Leaving College
by George Moses Horton
The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost
Today We Make the Poet's Words Our Own
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Up-Hill
by Christina Rossetti