Constantly Risking Absurdity Poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Constantly Risking Absurdity

Rating: 4.0


Constantly risking absurdity
and death
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
performing entrachats
and sleight-of-foot tricks
and other high theatrics
and all without mistaking
any thing
for what it may not be
For he's the super realist
who must perforce perceive
taut truth
before the taking of each stance or step
in his supposed advance
toward that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
with gravity
to start her death-defying leap
And he
a little charleychaplin man
who may or may not catch
her fair eternal form
spreadeagled in the empty air
of existence

COMMENTS OF THE POEM
David Peters 28 December 2006

While I'm not generally a fan of Ferlinghetti's poems, I've always loved this one. It's sad to see that it is not formatted here the way he arranged it. Using the original format is critical if readers/listeners are to truly capture the meanings and emotional content of this poem.

7 3 Reply
Doug Connor 15 May 2016

I agree. Like e.e. cummings, the appearance of the words on the page is part of the sense.

0 0 Reply
Stan Jelley 01 December 2004

One of my favourite poems; sums up and illuminates like nothing else could the personal exposure and risk inherent in any creative act. The common farewell these days of Take Care is the very opposite. The final image of the charleychaplin man who may or may not catch beauty shows again the self-sacrificing risk in pursuit of success, satisfaction, or even audience acclaim. But how artistically and with what panache does Ferlinghetti express it!

9 1 Reply
Russell Beaty 04 December 2007

Ferlinghetti was one strange man this poem was the only one that didnt depress me, I aslo like the charliechaplin man I thought that that made the poem

7 1 Reply
Jacob Erin-cilberto 10 May 2008

i love ferlihnghetti and have ever since my first modern american poetry class in 1970- i think 'constantly risking absurdity' is one of the great anthems for poets... we surely do risk absurdity and flying above the heads of our audiences, only because they often won't just see what they see. 'i am waiting' is my favorite of his....but he has been an inspiration for my poetry for almost 40 years, thank you, lawrence

7 1 Reply
Chinedu Dike 28 January 2022

Well conceived and nicely crafted.

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Kevin Patrick 26 May 2020

This is one of the best poems period, humor with depth of imagination and skill

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Ratnakar Mandlik 16 July 2019

The poet " a little charlychaplin man who may or may not catch her fair eternal form spreadeagled in the empty air of existence" Amazing role played by a poet in pursuit of beauty fabulously elaborated. Well deserved modern poem of the Day.

1 0 Reply
Edward Kofi Louis 16 July 2019

Risks! ! ! Facing the ways of life. Thanks for sharing this poem with us.

0 0 Reply
Bernard F. Asuncion 16 July 2019

A magnificently made poem......

0 0 Reply
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