The Writer

The Writer

“” by Richard Wilbur is a piece of work that depictsthe relationship between parents and their children. The real contextof the poem according to Wilbur is about her daughter who hasinterests in writing short stories. The poem looks back at her lifewhen she was in high school, and she used to go home and spend a lotof time writing short stories. Today, she is an accomplished storywriter ready to publish her work. It depicts a time we parents haveto leave their children to venture into their lives without pamperingthem with endless comforts. The persona believes that his daughterhas all it takes to venture into her affairs. Strikingly, both thedaughter and the father are writers. Although leaving children ontheir own is not easy, parents have to make the hard choice and letthem be autonomous. Wilbur is very clear in showing the intricatebond that exists between the father and the daughter. He employs theuse of similes, metaphors, and imageries. The poem stands out as aguide to parents and how they can allow autonomy in children. Thereare consequences of working without the guidance of parents. Childrencan find a way out like the bird depicted by Wilbur in the poem.

The first stance presents the scene where Wilbur’s daughter is inher room where “the light breaks and windows and windows are tossedwith linden” writing her story (Line 2). Her daughter is venturinginto writing her piece of work. The Linden, a tree that grows rapidlyis metaphoric of how quickly she has developed. In the second stanza,the persona pauses on the stairway listening to her daughter type.The work she is doing is taking much of her time and her regularpassing and starting over again confirms that it is not an easy task.

Wilbur uses the imagery of “chains over a gunwale,” representsthe anchors that bind ships to restrict their movement (Line 6). Thework is restricting her daughter from engaging in other activities.The work is like an anchor that restricts her to her typewriter. Theshut door is an indirect declaration by the daughter that she wantsto make the journey alone without any other help from her father. Thefather stands in front of the closed door. He can open it and enter,but he knows that it would be against the will of her daughter. Therepresentation of her daughter as a voyager in the sea becomes clearby the metaphorical comparison with her typing. In the third stanza,the poet used the metaphor of a “great cargo” represents thegirl’s life, and her father wishes her a lucky passage (Line 8).

The passage chosen by the daughter in not smooth. As she types, sheceases several times as if to rethink her point and search for otherideas. Her father notes this and feels remorseful since he cannot beat her daughter’s side. The father seems acquainted with thechallenges expected in the journey. It may explain why he lingers atthe stairway and outside the door in the hope of assisting herdaughter in case she calls for help (Line 3).

Stanza six indicates the daughter’s pausing in her work. The poetuses personification, “the whole house seems to be thinking,” toshow how the surrounding may not be in support of what the daughteris doing (Line 13). When she pauses, it is as she runs out of ideas.However, she starts over again to prove the “house” wrong.

To prove that the journey is not easy, the father describes theordeal of the bird trapped in the house and needed to free itself(Line 17). The story is an imagery of what is likely to happen in thedaughter’s journey. The bird, according to the poet struggledbefore finding the open window. The father and the daughter did notdirect the bird towards the open shutter. They just left it to findits way to freedom. The struggle was so intense that the birdbloodied itself. Finally, it found its way out. The father knows thatthe daughter has to pass through all this, and it may explain why hefears for the daughter. His concern for the bird shows the intricaterelationship between him and the daughter. The determination that thebird has to free itself is an indication that one requires to succeedin work and gain stability. It might be a dangerous journey that mayinvolve brushing shoulders with the elements and individuals in one`senvironment. The daughter, therefore, has to have the determinationof the bird to make it.

The efforts of the bird to find the open window involve flying acrossthe room repeatedly. It relates to the daughter’s mode of writingthe story as she writes and pauses several times. The bird usesintelligence to find its way out of restriction. In the same way, hedaughter must use her wits to succeed in “writing about her life.”Finding the right for the bird is equivalent to finding the rightcourse of life for the daughter.

The poet concludes by bringing out the father’s feeling towards thedaughter. He father wishes the daughter well in her life. Accordingto the poet, it is a matter of life and death. The father knows thatthere are no shortcuts in the quest that the daughter undertakes.Just like the bird trapped in the house, it was a matter of life anddeath. It could have either died in the room or find its way back tothe natural habitat where it could survive. The father’s referenceto her daughter as “my darling” re-affirms the strongrelationship between him and the daughter. Looking back at his life,he wishes his daughter hard success for he knows what it involvestaking a step into the real world (Line 31).

In conclusion, the poem is applicable in the real life. A youngperson venturing into an activity that may mean making a livelihoodis not always a smooth passage. Those who have been there beforeknows the dangers involved in the journey, and they can be goodsources of help. Although parents may want to be with their parentsall through, they should allow them to make autonomous decisions. Theyoung people can learn to be independent when they solve problems byusing their wits. When they face similar challenges in future, theysettle them without much struggle. If the father and daughter couldhave taken the bird directly to the window, it would not learn.Similarly, the daughter might not have learned if the father wasalways at her side.


Ramanan, Mohan. &quotWilbur`s the Writer.&quot The Explicator50.1 (1991): 58-60.