CH - poetry explication

CH - poetry explication - 1 Introduction to Literature...

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Introduction to Literature Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem “Constantly Risking Absurdity” 1 is about how poetry can be either absurd or beautiful depending upon how the audience appreciates the poem as read by its author. However it is also about the notable similarities between poets and acrobats. It is rather easy to see how poetry could be thought of as absurd. If the audience of a poem does not see a poem as being relative to life then it is likely to be dismissed as being silly or absurd, rather than being welcomed as beautiful. The poet is illustrated as using certain methods to capture his audience inside of the poem to make them appreciate his world. The poem is not bland in diction nor is it plain in its framing, even when printed. The poem uses many words which bring to mind the setting of a circus, filled with acrobats, dancers, and other performers. The poet is likened to an acrobat early in the poem, “…he performs above the heads of his audience.” This has both literal and figurative meanings. Literally, a poet could be imagined as being performing upon a stage, reading his poem to an examining audience. Figuratively, the poem begins to liken the poet’s performance to that of a circus acrobat. The poet is then likened in a simile to the circus performer, “the poet like an acrobat climbs on rime to a high wire of his own making.” Here the poem clearly illustrates how a poet’s performance has implications similar to the performance of a high-wire act. Should the poet be successful in charming 1 Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “Constantly Risking Absurdity,” pg. 149, Literature: The Human Experience , 8 th shorter ed, Boston, Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2004. 1
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his audience and making his audience appreciate his feat; his acrobatics will be viewed as beautiful by the audience below. But, if the poet were to fall off of his tight rope, his failure to make the audience appreciate his work would be the death of his performance.
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