Constantly Risking Absurdity
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Beauty and the Perch
She's beautiful all right, but not in the way we normally think. She's not a supermodel or a doll. She's a poet's ideal. She's the stuff of the perfect poem. In fact, we're not even sure what she looks like, but again, she's a personification of the poet's idea of perfection, and we're not meant to see her as a flesh and blood kind of gal. She's also on a "higher perch" that's difficult to get to. And yet everything the poet-acrobat does is for the purpose of catching her and making that perfect poem.
- Lines 24-27: So the poet's on the high wire but he's also on his way to that "still higher perch" where Beauty awaits him. It's a constant uphill battle, so to speak, in which he's "constantly risking absurdity." And just like we saw earlier, "high" seems to be getting at this idea of an artistic ideal, or "high art." It's not within reach of everyone, not even the poet/acrobat, but he's on his way nevertheless. And of course it's Beauty that's perched so high above us. We know Beauty wouldn't be easy to get, just like that "taut truth" we saw earlier.
- Lines 31-33: Eternal means everlasting, which tells us that Beauty is really made of some awesome stuff. In fact, she seems almost detached from the real world, as she hurtles, "spread-eagled in the empty air." And finally that final line "of existence" is another reminder that our poet, just like all poets, is working with ideals that always exist. They're out for Beauty and perfection. The tricky part is getting to it and making sure you don't plummet to your death. Piece of cake.