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”Juggler” by Richard Wilbur

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  • Pages: 5
  • Word count: 1025
  • Category: Poems

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Richard Wilbur’s creation, “Juggler”, presents the reader with number of images making this a very vivid poem. On the literal level, by using devices such as movement, shape, sound and color the reader can picture the juggler’s amazing performance. For example, Wilbur suggests positive responses from the audiences on the juggler’s performance. “The boy stamp and the girls Shriek, and the drum booms…”

On the other hand, this poem can also be read on the symbolic level, the juggler’s performance can be understood as the cycle of our life. When the juggler “graze his finger ends” the ball will bounce higher and higher, however eventually it will slow down and down, Wilbur reminds us that we can only “won for once over the world’s weight” ,but not forever soon or later the ball will fall down again. The poet is trying to leave us a message that both happiness and sadness are inevitable in our life. However, Wilbur is also trying to give us a sense of hope because in juggling involves “swinging a small heaven about his ears”. From subjective point of view as a Christian, such description helps Wilbur to convey to the reader that we do not need to worry in facing problems in our life, because we know that the Juggler, (which I refer to God), always lifts us again and we do not need to worry about what will happen after the “ball” falls down.

Using the sense of movement, the first image we are presented with is that of a bouncing ball falling to the Earth. In line one, the first heavy feeling comes in the phrase ” A ball will bounce, but less and less” This image of movement is carried through the five stanzas, with dictions such as “bounce”,” falling”. In addition to this image, we are also presented with a range of light color and dark colors such as “red balls” against “sky blue” background. This effect causes the reader visualize the spectacular performance of the juggler. In addition this also enables the reader to picture the five red balls circling in the air, against the bright blue background.

Another complementary device that helps to increase the depth of this image is that we are told of the various shapes and sounds that accompany the act of juggling. For example, the juggler quickly and lightly holds the balls which “graze” his finger tips, each ball spinning in it own orbit. The analogy made here is that each of five red balls could be a separate unit, a separate world spinning in our own world. The poem produces an effect of a sense of our galaxy, as each planet is rotating at its own orbit to our centre of the galaxy.

The use of sound is also very effective in this poem. The poet presents a type of rhythm that reflects the spinning balls, for example words such as “whee”, “batter”, “booms” forces the reader to listen and pay attention to the sound and the action that the juggler performed.

By seeing the steady pace of this poem, (such as in line 10 and 11) “Grazing his finger ends”, “Cling to their course there”. The style of writing of this poem is third person limited focuses on the cognitive. By cognitive, it means Wilbur seems very unemotional in writing this poem as he mainly concentrates on reporting the event as they happened. In line 22, “The boy stamp, and the girls Shriek” here we can see although Wilbur is giving us a very descriptive and spectacular performance, he never expresses his feeling. It appears that this poem is very descriptive as Wilbur documented what the Juggler and the people do. In addition, by looking at the steady rhythm of this poem, it also appears that the juggler acts keeps each ball in perfect timing so to does Wilbur present this poem, using diction such as “falls/balls”, “air/there”, “spheres/ears”, “cries/bye”…. By maintaining an even tempo, the poet reminds us that without the steady pace and perfect timing the Juggler would not be able to perform this spectacular performance.

Moving on to fourth and the fifth stanza, the juggler moves on to a more difficult performance such as table which the juggler spins on his toe, “a broom balancing on his nose” with the plate turning on the broom handle. Juxtapose against this is the stable image of children watching this act calling out he excitement “batter”.

The final stanza presents an image of slowness, as the Juggler puts the broom away, lets the table drop and the plate is lies flat on the table. Still the children continue to applaud; the juggler’s achievement in defying gravity to give these items their own mobility till the end the poem says in the last line, “who has won for once over the world’s weight”.

A number of these images are presented in the contrast to each other. On one hand we have the juggler standing stationary, on the other hand is the spinning of the balls. The poet makes a comparison at here, between the image of “heaven” and “earth” of weight and weightlessness. The red balls are liken to the world each whirling around, each in it own “sphere”

Another contrast is made between the juggler’s energy at the beginning of his performance and how he slows down, becoming tired. The analogy made her is between the juggler and the balls. As this spinning gradually slow down and stop so to his ability to keep the entire ball in the air.

In, conclusion the reader can see by using devices such as movement, shape, sound, color, the poet has created a lively performance. In addition to this by reading this poem, Wilbur is trying to bring us a sense of optimism. In the last two lines “For him we batter our hands”, “Who has won for once over the world’s weight”, the poet appears to convey us a that despite we are living in this heavy and difficult world, there is the moment we can enjoy ourselves.

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