Poem Commentary: Constantly Risking Absurdity by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Essay by irene88High School, 11th gradeA, January 2005

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Constantly Risking Absurdity by Lawrence Ferlinghetti


Constantly risking absurdity is a poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The poem is an extended metaphor comparing writing poetry to preforming dangerous acrobatics. It has a very original layout and complicated structure. The poem is not very long, but it is precise and clear, it does so through great use of imagery and diction. It is the harsh truth of poetry writing, and really of all creative writing: if the public does not grasp the work, it will fall and most likely never rise again.

The Poem is about the similarities between a poet and an acrobat. One can first notice this in line 6 when it says "the poet like and acrobat". This is of course also the theme of the poem. But another subtler theme of the poem is the survival or death of the poem, which is compared to the life or death of and acrobat, as we will see later on, these depend on the one who "catches" it, in the case of the poem the public and in the case of the acrobat the other acrobat.

The poem uses metaphors and similes to compare the poet and the acrobat; it portrays the poet as creating a "high wire of his own"(line 8). The poet, like the acrobat, uses "slight-of-foot tricks and other high theatrics"(lines 14-15) to impress the audience. The metaphor used in lines 25 to 27 which portrays the acrobats assistant jumping into air, is used to portray the poem being released to the public. The reader is told in line 27 that she is "to start her (the acrobat) death-defying leap," for the acrobat it is being caught by the other acrobat, for the poem it is to be caught by the public. In lines 28...