Monday, 1 May 2017

Writer's Tears

Here it is, the perfect gift for the writer in your life - and a very welcome present to me from my beloved daughter, who, sadly, is flying back to the Antipodes tomorrow.

Talking of daughters, and writers - and tears - here's Richard Wilbur:

The Writer

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. I sent the very poem to my daughter 2 weeks ago as she is about to leave University and embark on her first job in London. She was delighted with it. I love 'clearing the sill of the world'. Hope your daughter has a safe journey back to NZ.

  2. Absolutely. Thanks Guy.

  3. The whiskey is very drinkable, by the way.

  4. A beautiful poem. Much love from the Antipodes!