The Hopes and Fears of Writers

I had the great pleasure of attending commencement at Amherst College this past weekend to watch my daughter receive her diploma. It was a weekend filled with so much emotion – pride, awe, disbelief, joy. My husband graduated from this same institution 28 years ago, and it is where we met, so it was easy to be taken straight back to being 21 years old and ready to take on the world. Can’t you remember what that felt like? The firm belief that you could do anything smashed right up next to the fear of what would happen if you didn’t.

It struck me that this is what writers experience every time we sit down to write. We bring so much hope to the process, and fight through so much fear. It occurred to me that this is why writing never becomes comfortable or easy.

One of the highlights of the commencement weekend was a poetry reading by Richard Wilbur. Wilbur is 93 years old. He knew Robert Frost, whose name is on the library on that green quad where they handed out the diplomas. When Wilbur reads his poem – which you can listen to, below – you can feel the history flowing through him, and you can feel the impact of a whole lifetime of bravely putting words together to find meaning. I cried – but then again, I cried at just about everything.

Richard Wilbur reading Seed Leaves

Ramify means:

1.

 to divide into branches or branchlike parts

2.

 ( intr ) to develop complicating consequences; become complex