Thursday, March 21, 2024



One of two posts a year not tagged My Complicity



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.


  1. 1/in a former time my distant cousin's poem was much esteemed - although it depicts bourgeois household joys on a much shallower and more sentimental scale than wilbur's poem, i still like it

    2/linking to an arguably pro-natalist poem does not imply endorsement

    1. aftermath in an agricultural sense


      When the summer fields are mown,
      When the birds are fledged and flown,
      And the dry leaves strew the path;
      With the falling of the snow,
      With the cawing of the crow,
      Once again the fields we mow
      And gather in the aftermath.

      Not the sweet, new grass with flowers
      Is this harvesting of ours;
      Not the upland clover bloom;
      But the rowen mixed with weeds,
      Tangled tufts from marsh and meads,
      Where the poppy drops its seeds
      In the silence and the gloom.