The Untold Stories of Richard Wilbur

Richard Wilbur was a fascinating poet to study this term, I believe this is the case because he makes the readers work for it. He has a way of capturing his readers through multilayered pieces of literature, although this can be mentally exhausting, it always proves to be far more insightful that works that just give things away form first sight. He had a habit of making it so that the reader only got a sliver of meaning out of his poetry during the first read, but then a broad spectrum of ideas the second and third time through.Famous poet Randall Jarrell complained that whole doing his he, “never goes too far, but [he] never goes far enough.” One thing that helped my understand the depth of these poems more intricately was watching videos of him reading them. When seeing Wilbur himself, the creator of these masterpieces, pour as much emotion into it as he did, something about the meaning changes in your head. It changes in a different way for each poem as there are different things to uncover for each work. This once again leads to frustration on the part of the reader as it takes more effort for them to comprehend and fully understand the poetry but is all the more rewarding by the end. Here is one video that I thoroughly enjoyed (please take the time to read the poem first and then watch the video as you will understand my method of finding this deeper interpretation):

Love Calls Us to the Things of This World


The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul   
Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple   
As false dawn.
                     Outside the open window   
The morning air is all awash with angels.
    Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses,   
Some are in smocks: but truly there they are.   
Now they are rising together in calm swells   
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear   
With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;
    Now they are flying in place, conveying
The terrible speed of their omnipresence, moving   
And staying like white water; and now of a sudden   
They swoon down into so rapt a quiet
That nobody seems to be there.
                                             The soul shrinks
    From all that it is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every blessèd day,
And cries,
               “Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,   
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.”
    Yet, as the sun acknowledges
With a warm look the world’s hunks and colors,   
The soul descends once more in bitter love   
To accept the waking body, saying now
In a changed voice as the man yawns and rises,   
    “Bring them down from their ruddy gallows;
Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves;   
Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone,   
And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating   
Of dark habits,
                      keeping their difficult balance.”
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