Daring to Be Beautiful
In "Constantly Risking Absurdity", Lawrence Ferlinghetti describes the tumultuous journey of the poet, using a metaphor between the poet and an acrobat. The poet and acrobat are alike in that they are both risk takers. While the acrobat risks his limbs and life, the poet risks his reputation in society. In addition to that, the acrobat strives to create Beauty with his body, while the poet creates Beauty with his pen. They both strive for the same goal in different ways.
The poet is always risking absurdity because he is in the spotlight and his every move is liable for scrutiny. With the slightest mistake he could fall off his "high wire" (line 8), in other words, his reputation could be ruined and he could no longer aim for Beauty. However, this is the price he must pay for Beauty just as the acrobat, who is completely accurate in all his steps for fear of falling, must pay. Ferlinghetti himself risked absurdity in 1956 when he published "Howl", a poem by Allen Ginsberg which caused a lot of controversy because of its abundant sex, drug, and homosexuality references. He stood behind the poem, even standing trial in court, because he believed that it held Beauty. In the end, Beauty prevailed and he was acquitted on the charges.
In the poem, the poet "climbs on a rime to a high wire of his own making" (line7-8). Here, Ferlinghetti is explaining that the poet uses his rhymes, or poems, to give himself a high place in society. However, because it is a wire, thin and unsteady, it takes a lot of work to balance on, just as it would for an acrobat. This balance for the poet is balance between appealing to the public and appealing to Beauty. The public thinks that the poet is some "super realist who must perforce perceive taut truth" (line 19-21) who knows everything and is so wise when, in reality, the poet is merely a regular person looking for Beauty in the midst of a confused world. However, the public wants to see the poet do tricks and "[perform] entrechats"(line...