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Poetry

He has to risk that the audience may not catch what he intends. Ferlinghetti compares a poem to a “little charleychaplin man,” who “may or may not catch,” meaning that a poem has to risk losing its audience, risk falling into the “empty existence of air” in order to achieve any kind of greatness, for if the poem risks nothing it also achieves nothing, no beauty, and no artistry. Ferlinghetti makes this point a bit ironically, as it is intended to be a bit of a jab at the Beat poets, poets who, to Ferlinghetti’s mind, risk nothing in their poetry, instead choosing to hide behind a mask of postmodern cynicism and dispair. The Beat poets, in Ferlinghetti’s opinion, do not walk the rope at all, but instead play their gullible audience, capitalizing on an immature dedication to anarchy and a disillusionment with a government that would draft Americans and send them to a war that they did not believe in. In “Constantly risking absurdity,” we see Ferlinghetti using not only theme and imagery to unite the subjects of poetry and high wire acts, but also the form. The words and lines look as if they are constantly shifting, just like a tight-rope walker must constantly change his pacing in order to keep his balance, or just as the poet must do to “perceive / taut truth.” The poet has to risk leaps in form as well as leaps in theme and subject to create a work of art. There is no other way. ...Show more

Summary

4/24/11 On Ferlinghetti’s “Constantly Risking Absurdity” In the poem “Constantly Risking Absurdity” Ferlinghetti compares a poet to a tight rope walker, both risk the absurd dangers to achieve a kind of sublime beauty, an ephemeral passage into the world of art…
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Poetry essay example
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