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Constantly Risking Absurdity

Constantly Risking Absurdity


by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Analysis: Form and Meter

Free Verse

You've got this one in the bag, because by now you've probably noticed that everything in this poem is free. The structure is free, the form is free, the meter is free, heck even Beauty is free. Everything's loosey goosey here—even the enjambment, which might have driven us a little crazy. But that headache isn't for nothing. It's to remind us that the poem (like the poet-acrobat) is part of one big swinging creative process.

The lines themselves look like they're swinging to and fro, a little erratic at times, and a little more controlled in other places. In a weird way, it really reminds us of a circus, as if the lines themselves are swinging back and forth on a trapeze. We also noticed that when the speaker chooses to get a little heavy on us with his philosophy, the lines appear to be more controlled (take a look again at lines 16-18). So the poem's structure is in tune with the words and ideas we hear.

Also, we mentioned that we can't really decipher breaks in stanzas here, aside from a couple of capitalized words. It looks like it's all one big stanza, which makes sense considering that it's all one big swinging idea. So the mood that we seem to get just from the structure alone seems to be one that is not only free but also a little unpredictable and even dangerous (thank goodness for those nets below the high wire). Not dangerous in the sense of being eaten alive by caged tigers but rather in the sense of risking everything, especially the poet's work and purpose.

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