Subscribe: by Email | in Reader

In the Smoking Car -- Richard Wilbur

(Poem #322) In the Smoking Car
 The eyelids meet. He'll catch a little nap.
 The grizzled, crew-cut head drops to his chest.
 It shakes above the briefcase on his lap.
 Close voices breathe, "Poor sweet, he did his best."

 "Poor sweet, poor sweet," the bird-hushed glades repeat,
 Through which in quiet pomp his litter goes,
 Carried by native girls with naked feet.
 A sighing stream concurs in his repose.

 Could he but think, he might recall to mind
 The righteous mutiny or sudden gale
 That beached him here; the dear ones left behind ...
 So near the ending, he forgets the tale.

 Were he to lift his eyelids now, he might
 Behold his maiden porters, brown and bare.
 But even here he has no appetite.
 It is enough to know that they are there.

 Enough that now a honeyed music swells,
 The gentle, mossed declivities begin,
 And the whole air is full of flower-smells.
 Failure, the longed-for valley, takes him in.
-- Richard Wilbur
An interesting poem - not brilliant, but I like the theme, and it's handled
well enough. The poem is enjoyable not so much for the imagery as for the
tone, which balances humour and warm sympathy nicely, with perhaps a hint of
commiseration, and some lovely lines like 'So near the ending, he forgets
the tale'. The poem also presents a somewhat wry look at today's rather
pervasive success-oriented culture - the very stereotypicality of the
character makes the reader realise that a good many people would rather
inhabit a comfortable dreamworld than cope with the real one, desiring no
better epitaph than 'poor sweet, he did his best'.


While this poem has echoes of Thurber's Walter Mitty and Schulz's Charlie
Brown, neither analogy is that strong.

More interesting is to compare it to Robinson's "Miniver Cheevy", a far
harsher look at a similar misfit: poem #234


  Wilbur, Richard (Purdy)

   b. March 1, 1921, New York, N.Y., U.S.

  American poet associated with the New Formalist movement.

  Wilbur was educated at Amherst College, Amherst, Mass., and Harvard
  University, where he studied literature. He fought in Europe during World
  War II and earned a master's degree from Harvard in 1947. With The
  Beautiful Changes and Other Poems (1947) and Ceremony and Other Poems
  (1950), he established himself as an important young writer. These early
  poems are technically exquisite and formal in their adherence to the
  convention of rhyme and other devices.

  Wilbur next tried translating and in 1955 produced a version of Molière's
  play Le Misanthrope, which was followed by Molière's Tartuffe (1963), The
  School for Wives (1971), and The Learned Ladies (1978) and by Racine's
  Andromache (1982). In 1957 he won a Pulitzer Prize for poetry for Things
  of This World: Poems (1956), which was enthusiastically hailed as less
  perfect but more personal than his previous poetry. Wilbur wrote within
  the poetic tradition launched by T.S. Eliot, using irony and intellect to
  create tension in his poems. Some critics demanded more energy from his
  poems; this complaint was partially assuaged with the publication of
  Advice to a Prophet and Other Poems (1961), Walking to Sleep (1969), and
  The Mind Reader: New Poems (1976). He also wrote the lyrics for Leonard
  Bernstein's acclaimed musical comedy version of Candide (1957), children's
  books such as Loudmouse (1963) and Opposites (1973), and criticism,
  collected as Responses: Prose PiecesHe was poet
  laureate of the United States in 1987-88.

                -- EB

23 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

StEpHdAwGg007 said...


TLynnO7 said...

yes it is the same Richard Wilbur

vimax said...

penis enlargement, penis enlargement pills, male enhancement, male enhancement pills

Penis enlargement pills have been proven is the best way to make the penis bigger and effective to increase men’s sexual performance.vimax pills, vigrx plus, prosolution pills, maleextra

Space Matters Real Estates said...

Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will definitely return. Plots for sale in Hyderabad
Plots for sale in Banjara Hills
Plots for sale in Jubilee Hills
Plots for sale in Manikonda
Plots for sale in Madhapur
Plots for sale in kondapur
Plots for sale in Gachibowli
Plots for sale in Kukatpally

Paul Reed said...

Thanks for the sharing, this blog is very intersting. Business finance | Home improvement | It's very informarmative and very knowladgeable blog.

duh biyung said...

Hi just thought i would tell you something.. This is twice now i’ve landed on your blog in the last 2 days looking for completely unrelated things. Spooky or what?

travel guide
industrial vision
Car Modelling Customization
kumpulan info trend baju
update informasi terbaru
kumpulan informasi terkini
kumpulan info terkini

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. please read our articles obat kemaluan keluar nanah obat kemaluan keluar nanah obat kutil di sekitar kemaluan obat ambeien tanpa operasi

Anonymous said...

Seberat apapun beban masalah yang kamu hadapi saat ini, percayalah bahwa semua itu tidak pernah melebihi batas kemampuan kamu.

Post a Comment