Study Guide

Constantly Risking Absurdity Truth

By Lawrence Ferlinghetti


What a clever word: truth. It's a tricky thing to wrap your mind around because more often than not we're stumped by the very notion of what is "true." Sure the sky is blue and fish don't walk on land (?) but other than that, we're always scratching our heads over the whole thing. In "Constantly Risking Absurdity," our poet-acrobat is in an even bigger conundrum because his entire performance depends on perceiving "taut truth." Try doing that while averting death on a high wire.

Questions About Truth

  1. Why is it the poet's duty to perceive "taut truth?" (21). And why is truth "taut?"
  2. What do truth and Beauty have in common? Is the truth always beautiful?Ā 
  3. Should truth even be a concern for the poet? After all, he's not a scientist, so what does he care? Can't he just write a funny love poem?

Chew on This

With all this trickery and "sleight-of-foot," it's clear the poet-acrobat is not after taut truth at all. He only wants Beauty, and to get Beauty, you've gotta have an ace up your sleeve.

If truth were "spreadeagled" in the air like Beauty, the poet would likely feel a whole lot more comfortable with the whole idea of "constantly risking absurdity."

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