Study Guide

Constantly Risking Absurdity Art and Culture

By Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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Art and Culture

Constantly risking absurdity
                                        and death (1-2)

An artist can't predict his audience's reaction to his work. If they laugh at him, not only might he feel "absurd" but his career may also face its own "death." No guarantees, no freebies, but plenty of absurdity and death. Comforting, right?

the poet like an acrobat
                           climbs on rime
                                   to a high wire of his own making (6-8)

It's a slippery slope once the poet begins that climb toward Beauty. And all the while, he knows he's responsible for everything that goes on in his work. So if he falls, that potential "death" is also of his "own making."

a little charleychaplin man
                           who may or may not catch
  her fair eternal form (30-32)

This guy's just as silly as the rest of us. He might even be sillier, considering that his entire profession rests on the possibility of risking "absurdity and death." But if he catches Beauty's "fair eternal form" all the danger is well worth it.

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