Attempting to write…

There is a mysterious force that challenges every word that I attempt to write. Steven Pressfield in The War of Art calls it ‘Resistance.’ I was introduced to this poem by Richard Wilbur today that describes the process perfectly. As I think about how much I want to write in 2021, I thought this a fitting way to begin the year. The process of imagining and writing is captured beautifully and powerfully in this work.

The author of numerous books of poetry, Richard Wilbur was a recipient of the Wallace Stevens Award and served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1961 to 1995.

The Writer by Richard Wilbur 1921-2017

“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.”

It is always a matter of life or death…Happy New Year friends.
 

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