Author Never Dies by Riyas Qurana is a poem that utilizes the metaphor of “the bird” to express how elusive writing and wording can be in the grand scheme of the author’s world. The choice of Qurana’s wording creates a sardonic atmosphere that infuses into the lines, and the overall poem comes as a warning to authors to wait for the right wording, no matter how evasive it is, since forcing ideas and phrasing can lead to a subpar product. Qurana claims that he has forced this “bird” into his “text,” and the result was that the writing did not come to be. In the end then, this is guidance and advise from one writer to another. You can read the full poem here.
Author Never Dies Analysis
Qurana begins describing the writing process by utilizing the metaphor of “a bird.” Though he does not state what “the bird” is a representation of, the reader can infer “the bird” is a physical symbol of the written word for an author. This concept is clear through the description given in regard to “the bird.” Qurana states that “there is no bird…in the text written on a bird,” and the concept seems almost contrasting and cyclical. When added to the words that follow this proclamation, that “[y]ou need not feel amazed” by the absence of “the bird,” the wordplay makes more sense in regard to writing.
For a writer, inspiration might not come as soon as they sit down at a computer to write a story, and there are numerous reasons why the words would be stunted in the process of trying to create a book, short story, or poem. While there are plenty of words in written works, those words are not so immediate in becoming the final product. In fact, when a writer begins the process of constructing a written work, there is not one word provided at the initial state.
If words, then, are “bird[s],” what Qurana is saying is that “there is no [word]…written on a” finished product at the beginning of the process. Those words must be acquired through time and frustration as writers cannot “compel [them] to come at once.” In fact, the repetition in “in the in the text” could be an example of the awkwardness that can come when “the bird” has yet to show its face and lead the writer to the correct wording.
Words, overall, are not at writers’ beck and call since they care not for “need” or “urgency.” Like a bird flying high in the sky, ever striking and admirable, those words are elusive to writers’ methods of catching them and able to fly near or far at their own “whims.”
This series of lines builds the already noted concept of words being as evasive as “a bird,” even going so far as to mock the concept of the evasiveness by commenting that “[i]t may be having some important chores.” Clearly, the written word has no “chore” since it is not a physical being with such responsibilities, so there is a satirical quality to the concept that grants the poem a sardonic feel. Qurana’s complaints about the elusiveness feel more like amused commentary with this addition to the reflection.
Once this amused tone is embraced, Qurana returns to commenting on the general evasiveness of words when writing by saying they “might surface as suits their whims and fancies,” which builds on the metaphor of “the bird” without mentioning “the bird” anywhere in lines 7-10. These traits are representative of a living being, like “a bird,” so since words cannot have “whims and fancies,” the metaphor is embraced through ideas even when the noun of “the bird” itself is not mentioned.
The final ideas of this section could prove a bit puzzling to the reader when Qurana states that “[t]here are no rules that dictate that we should place the bird inside the text and read it.” However, there are two concepts that could be the rationale for this section.
One is a furthering of the metaphor between words and “the bird.” Like a bird does not need to be “caged,” there is no regulation to declare that works of fiction have to be penned in a specific format—or at all. If the reader embraces that metaphor, the parallel showcases a beauty and familiarity that is possible by corralling those words into a focused format. Just as a pet bird can be a beautiful sight in a person’s home, the words that are assembled in this unnecessary fashion can create a beautiful, noteworthy sight. Although there is no need to catch those words to “write” or “read,” there is contentment to be found in doing so.
If the reader, however, looks at this in a precisely different manner, the metaphor of the “cage” becomes a method of criticism, as if the writer who forces the words to form in an involuntary and strained manner will have a final product that is as tame and restricted as “a bird” that knows only a “cage.” While “a bird” that flies freely might live a majestic life of openness and maneuverability, the “caged” animal cannot explore wide open territories because of the confinements around it. If this is Qurana’s meaning, it is commentary that even though the words can be elusive, they should still not be forced, for the sake of a more lively and pleasant final product.
This series of lines clears up any kind of uncertainty regarding how the “rules” concept should be taken. In fact, Qurana states his intention of bringing up the lack of “rules” for writing when he says that “[i]t is not proper to have it caged inside the text.” What this means is that, like “a bird” that will never know the freedom that comes outside of a “cage,” a written work will never reach its full potential if filled with words that are forced and dictated.
An odd twist comes into play when Qurana comments that “[i]f it likes your way of reading,” “the possibility of it getting into the text willingly comes to be.” Since the poem is about the elusiveness of the writing process, commenting that the words could start forming in connection to “reading” is an unusual change. Granted, in an earlier line, Qurana references the process of “reading” in connection to there being “no rules,” but “reading” what has been written is different than writing because of “reading.”
It could be though that Quran is referencing the prospect of gaining inspiration and insight from other authors. If such is the case, by pausing to “read” the works of other authors, a new writer’s style could form in a way that allows words to come more fluidly as that new writer learns what does and does not work. In this, claiming “the bird” would come nearer in connection to “reading” makes sense. Inspiration has happened, and there is no need to force those words “into the text” like “a bird” that must be in a “cage.”
Qurana turns to pleading with the reader in Line 20 to ask that they “please [not] conclude” “some bird flying high” should be assumed as “the one to stay within the text.” What this means is that an author should not try to force something that seems appealing or regal into their writing should those appealing and regal concepts not fit within the context. Similarly, the easy method of writing should also not be embraced as “the bird” that “hovers so closely” is not necessarily “the bird for the text” either. The wording should fit the product, not the easy fix or the ideal vision.
In this final series of lines, Qurana seems to say he has tried at some point to force his wording, writing “[n]ot just of the bird,” and his inspiration to write left him in response. Specifically, this tactic to force the wording “caus[ed the bird] to exit.” With this concept in mind, this poem takes on a feeling of warning toward writers. If Qurana is speaking from experience, after all, his words are a declaration of what could happen if words are mistreated in writing. The product, it seems, is so ill-represented that it falls to pieces without inspiration and care.
The final lines return to the “whimsy” of earlier ones to claim “the bird” is “[w]andering in silence” in the aftermath of the loss of inspiration. There is no physical representation of this concept that is applicable to what happens when inspiration leaves since inspiration itself is not a living being to “wander” anywhere, but the visual fits well with the metaphor of “the bird.” That “bird” can “wander,” “shrilling silently” into the open night if it escapes from its “cage” of confinement. Words, however, might only slip from the mind so that the quality of a work lessens from attempting to force something unnatural into “the text.” There is no logical reason to assume the words or inspiration travel from the mind of the writer to find a new one to inspire, but the unrealistic notion solidifies the flightiness of words in comparison to the freedom of “the bird.” It also hints that even should one writer fail, another writer will be able to carry on the profession so that authors, as the title says, “never die.”
Essentially, this is a poem that embraces a sardonic atmosphere where words are given unrealistic traits to establish the parallel with “a bird,” leading the reader to one striking conclusion. While writing, forcing words can be a crucial fault, just like “cag[ing]” an animal that should be free. Qurana, in the end, is telling the reader to wait for the elusive words to “surface” since forcing them can be as unpleasant of an experience as being “caged” is for a bird.
About Riyas Qurana
Little information about Qurana can be found online, but he is the author of over a dozen poems. Much of his work is similar to “Author Never Dies” in that the metaphor of “the bird” appears in a number of his poems as well as the elusiveness of words for a writer. Overall, these seem to be concepts he is concerned with enough to continually elaborate upon.