Constantly Risking Absurdity
Constantly risking absurdity
whenever he performs
above the heads
of his audience
the poet like an acrobat
climbs on rime
to a high wire of his own making
and balancing on eyebeams
above a sea of faces
paces his way
to the other side of the day
and sleight-of-foot tricks
and other high theatrics
and all without mistaking
for what it may not be
For he's the super
who must perforce perceive
before the taking of each stance or step
in his supposed advance
toward that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
to start her death-defying leap
a little charleychaplin man
who may or may not catch
her fair eternal form
spreadeagled in the empty air
1. To what sort of performer is the poet
The poet is a tight-rope walker and a trapeze
2. Name at least 3 feats of the poet/performer.
The poet/performer climbs on rimes, balances
on eyebeams, and performs entrechats.
3. What picture of the poet does Ferlinghetti
create by calling him a "little charleychaplin man?" Contrast this image with that of beauty in lines 25-26. What does this
contrast suggest about the relationship between a poet and art? Create links to Charley Chaplin information sites or to a
Charley Chaplin short feature on the web.
Charlie Chaplin was a unusual man
who said that art can be expressed in many different ways unlike the Beauty that is described in the poem. The poem suggests
that there is only one universal kind of beauty, but art and poetry, on the other hand, can be expressed in countless ways.
4. Define realist. Since super
means both "above" and to "a greater degree, what two ideas about poetry does Ferlinghetti suggest when he says that the poet
is a "super realist."
A realist is a down to earth and practical
person. Ferlinghetti suggests that poets are good but yet not good enough for beauty.
5. Find three example of Ferlinghetti's
inventiveness with language (puns, compound words, etc.) and describe the effects of each.
“Climbs on rime” is a pun,
the poet writes rimes for his poems and the performer climbs and performs death-defying stunts.
“And balancing on eyebeams”
is a pun because the poet writes his poems from left to right and the performers balance on rope.
“Sleight of foot tricks” is
a pun because the poets write in Iambic parameters
6. What is the tone of the poem? Explain.
The writer gives off a tone of admiration
for Beauty and that it is unreachable by anyone. Not even through poetry or the performers can reach it while it is standing
on its high platform.