The poem â€œThe Writerâ€ by Richard Wilbur uses many different metaphors to add to the depth of its meaning. To help with the imagery, Wilbur uses nautical vocabulary such as prow, gunwale, passage and cargo to further set up the metaphor. The prow is referring to the front of the house, where the daughterâ€™s room is, as a bow of the ship, where the ship cuts the water first. I believe that the fatherâ€™s room is in the back of the house, where on a ship the helm would be. The helm is where the ship is steered from; this might have a meaning that the father is in charge of â€œsteeringâ€ the daughter in the right direction to a good life. The ocean of adolescence is a rough one, and the father can try to make the best path through the surf, but the sea will always triumph in the end. The â€œpassageâ€ of the ship is describing the time it takes for the daughter to grow up. She will have a great â€œcargoâ€ to carry along with her during her journey from childhood to adulthood. .
The daughter is busy writing a story in her room as her father is listening and watching silently. She is trying to let all of her emotions and thoughts out into her story, but it is not coming too easily. The parent cares for the daughter and wishes her â€œa lucky passageâ€. The daughter stops typing for a minute, as she is probably struggling with starting the first sentence of the story, and then finally starts typing again. .
A stronger metaphor that has a double meaning in stanzas eight, nine, and ten is one of an â€œiridescent creatureâ€ that can be taken literally as a creature, such as a bird or bat. The bird got trapped inside the daughterâ€™s bedroom, and was hurt. It was perhaps in shock for a little while, flapping around on the ground. The bird seemed to get better suddenly and then flew out the window. These stanzas can also be referring to the daughter, and her struggle through adolescence into adulthood.