"The Visitor" Commentary

1142 words 5 pages
Subject: English
Format: Commentary

“The Visitor” by Gibbons Ruark
Through rich, sensory details with flowing, enjambed lines, “The Visitor” by Gibbons Ruark is an elegant prose poem which elaborates on the sensuality of music through the vivid experiences of the first person narrator instead of the visit of a piano tuner, the inferred visitor in the title.
Utilizing the narrator’s impressions, Ruark portrays the ‘blind’ (l. 1) piano tuner in the first lines as a frail, vulnerable, dependent person, ‘holding the arm of his helper’ (l.1). Although ‘He hesitates at first’ (l. 1), the narrator notices the almost magical transformation the piano tuner undergoes—his helplessness is replaced by grace and agility as ‘his hands glide over
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17 and 18), creating a sense of mystery, surrealism and independence, especially since the helper is unmentioned in his departure, thus inferring that he is no longer dependent.
The narrator, previously withdrawn and observant, now experiences music in a more intimate manner during a ‘long afternoon that blurs in a haze / Of music…’ (l. 18 and 19) The use of ‘long’, ‘haze’ and the ellipsis elicits a sense of languidness as the narrator travels back in time with music pieces such as ‘Chopin nocturnes, Clair de Lune, / All the old familiar, unfamiliar / Music-lesson pieces, Papa Hadyn’s / Dead and gone, gently down the stream…’ (l. 19 to 22). The use of ellipses here induces a sense of time-travel, as though the reader is slowly meandering back to the present with the narrator to where ‘Hours later, / …the latest car has doused its beams.’ (l. 22 and 23). The use of ‘latest’ to contrast greatly with the previous list of old music may be to perhaps accentuate the timelessness of music and it’s existence, which has survived to the present.
The absence of music causes the atmosphere to abruptly transform to a mysterious yet lethargic mood. The ‘car has doused its beams’ (l. 23) and their cat ‘with the grace of animals free / To move in darkness’ appears, creating a sense secrecy.
The narrator is now fixed on his sense of hearing, noting that cars have


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