Themes and Meanings
By giving advice to the prophet, Wilbur thereby becomes the prophet, obliquely assuming one of the poet’s traditional roles. Just as the prophet is “mad-eyed from stating the obvious” without being listened to, the poet in the modern world is for the most part unread, his role as prophet forgotten. It is ironic that the poet is speaking to himself. By addressing the prophet as “you,” however, he calls on the reader to become the prophet and to pass on the word of the poet’s vision. Wilbur’s view of life on Earth is summarized in the titles of two of his other poems: “A World With-out Objects Is a Sensible Emptiness” and “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World.”
The first of those titles finds expression in the poet’s idea of a “worldless rose.” There can be no world without objects. If there were, it would be a sensible emptiness: nothing there to see, touch, smell, taste, or hear, and no one there to do these things. There can be no “worldless” human beings. The poet believes this is obvious, perhaps so obvious that it has been forgotten. How else can he explain why human beings allow weapons to exist that are capable of destroying the world?
The other title mentioned above, “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World,” expresses the attitude Wilbur believes people should have toward all things of nature, including themselves. Love is the opposite of war. The things of this world are exemplified...
(The entire section is 445 words.)