An Analysis of Richard Wilbur

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An Analysis of Richard Wilbur’s “The Writer” Sidney Sheldon said, “A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God.” In “The Writer,” Richard Wilbur describes a father listening to his daughter write a story on her typewriter. Wilbur’s two images, one of his daughter steering her small ship of experience and the other of a trapped bird trying desperately to escape, illustrate the situation of the writer and his message: Having a story is the culmination of tough experiences; producing a story is an act of desperate struggle. The structure of Wilbur’s poem illustrates the divinity of the creative process. His daughter’s message is truly a product of her creation. Each stanza is three lines long; the poem totals thirty three lines. Symbolically, the number three suggests the Trinity; the number thirty three suggests Christ’s age at the height of his ministry. These images parallel the daughter’s role as creator and her struggle to create her message. The poem blends two images that serve as metaphors for the writer’s task. Stanzas 1-9 present the daughter as the captain of her ship, sitting “in her room at the prow of the house” (1). The nautical diction builds the image of her journeying process to write her story. Sounds emit from the typewriter “like a chain hauled over a gunwale” (6), she carries her experience like a “great cargo” (8), and the speaker wishes his daughter “a lucky passage” (9). Even her typing suggests the motion of rowing, coming in a “bunched clamor / Of strokes” (14-15). Additionally, the second line of each stanza is longer than the first and third. Visually, this suggests the rise and fall of the ocean and reinforces the nautical references and the father’s wish for her “lucky passage” (9). The word “lucky” is an interesting choice; it seems trite, as though the father does not yet fully empathize

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