Charles Wright’s “Reunion” delves into the author’s personal relationship to his poetry. The narrator feels that through poetry, he is able to detach himself from his past. In the poem, the author expresses that he feels as though sometimes he is trapped in the past and cannot properly heal from it. He is able to experience catharsis by expressing himself through writing poetry. “Reunion” is an honest expression of the author’s feelings about his craft.
‘Reunion‘ focuses on the author’s relationship with his poetry, and what it means to him.
‘Reunion‘ begins with the narrator stating that another day has separated itself from the days up ahead. The narrator then says that this day keeps a photograph of him in its pocket and that it wants to bring him (the narrator) into the past. The poem ends with the narrator explaining that he uses poetry to untie himself and disappear.
You can read the full poem here.
Already one day has detached itself from all the rest up ahead.
It wants to carry my breath into the past in its bag of wind.
The first stanza of ‘Reunion’ delves into the narrator’s feelings about the past. He personifies a passing day as a sentient entity, which he uses as a representation of the past as a whole. The line “one day has detached itself from the rest up ahead” is a metaphor for the passage of time; as a day ends, it becomes a part of the past, separated from the present and the future.
The narrator then states that this personification of the past has his photograph in its pocket, and that it wants to “carry his breath into the past”. This is another metaphor: the narrator is saying that he feels as though his past has a hold on him. Though he continues to move forward each passing day, a part of himself remains trapped in the past. A “photograph” is a literal snapshot of the past, which is why the narrator uses it as symbolism for the parts of himself that he feels are trapped in the past.
I write poems to untie myself, to do penance and disappear
Through the upper right-hand corner of things, to say grace.
In the final stanza of ‘Reunion,’ the narrator explains how poetry helps him to detach himself from the past. He states that he writes poems to “untie” himself, “do penance”, and “disappear”. These three things describe the meaning that poetry holds to the author. Through poetry, he is able to untie himself from the past and move forward into the future. He is also able to forgive himself and make amends for his past actions.
The narrator also states that through poetry, he is able to “disappear” from the past. The “upper right-hand corner” refers to the photograph metaphor from earlier. The narrator is saying that through poetry, he is able to escape through the upper right hand of this photograph of himself that’s stuck in the past. He also states that he uses poetry to “say grace”, which is a type of prayer. This suggests that poetry holds the same significance to him as a religious experience.
‘Reunion‘ is a poem that delves into the author’s personal relationship with his poetry. The main theme of the poem centers around the significance that poetry has an emotional release for the writer. The narrator views his poems as a way to disconnect himself from his past. He feels as though the past haunts him, and he struggles to detach himself from it. However, through his poems, he is able to make peace with his past and set himself free. Poetry is often used as a medium to express deep and complex emotions. As such, it can help the writer to come to terms with difficult feelings that they may have.
Structure and Form
‘Reunion‘ is broken into 2 stanzas. The first is three lines long, the second is 2 lines long. The poem doesn’t have a set rhyme scheme, making it a free-verse poem. This makes the poem feel much more personal and from the heart, as though these are the uncensored thoughts of the author. Considering the theme of this poem, it makes sense that it would be written in this format. This poem is meant to be an emotional release, and as such it makes sense that the author made the choice to speak candidly and from the heart.
About Charles Wright
Considered to be one of the greatest American poets of his time, Charles Wright is the author of 20 books of poetry. In 2014, he was named Poet Laureate of the United States. His poetry has won him a multitude of different awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, the Griffin International Poetry Prize, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. He is currently a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets and the Souder Family Professor of English at the University of Virginia.
Read more Charles Wright poems.
If you like ‘Reunion‘ by Charles Wright, check out these similar poems:
- ‘Nouns,’ another poem by Charles Wright that discusses writing.
- ‘Loving in truth‘ by Sir Phillip Sidney, a poem that delves into the knowledge relationship to his poetry, and how he uses it to express his emotions.
- Any of the poems from this list of 10 of the Most Famous English-Language Poems, if you like the work of Charles Wright, you may appreciate the works of other famous poets.