|Grendel's mother drags Beowulf to the bottom of the lake by Henry Justice Ford|
All Thomas More College students studied the poetry of Richard Wilbur and were assigned a specific Wilbur poem during our semester in Rome. Richard Wilbur died this October at the ripe old age of 96. I was assigned Marginalia during my Rome semester in the spring of 2005. The below abstract is for an essay I am working on for an upcoming collection of papers on Wilbur that is being put together by alumni of the college as a tribute to “our” poet.
This essay will examine the idea of the marginal and of the border between perceived reality and the more complete reality that Wilbur points to beyond our perception. What collects at the margin of our experience is often broken, ugly, and dangerous. Yet, “our riches are centrifugal” and the tide of history continually pulls to this outer rim. While the undiscovered country cannot be visited, we are given a means of fathoming it through dreams, myth, and our collective experience. It will be the goal of this essay to describe how the poem provides a means of speaking about the marginal and of conceiving of it as not just a integral part of the human experience, but potentially the means for its completion.