This poem is about a father-daughter relationship. The poem is about the daughter’s life journey and how the father can only point her in the right direction, but can’t make her decisions for her. The narrator is the father of a girl typing a story. As the father stands outside the shut door of his daughter’s room, listening to her type, he wishes her luck on her journey. The daughter pauses suddenly and the father takes this pause as a rejection of his wish of her to do well in life, the daughter then types again and pauses again. The father at this point remembers a bird that was trapped in the room many years before. The father opened the window in a hope to get the bird out of the room, the daughter and the father both had to leave the room to prevent from scaring it. The bird eventually left the room and that is the end of the poem.
Wilbur uses three separate metaphors to enhance the poem's meaning. The first metaphor is the daughter's life journey being compared to that of a ship's voyage. The daughter's life is being compared to "heavy cargo" and the father wishes her "lucky passage" much like what sailers say when taking off on their journey. These expressions show how a journey at sea is like the journey through life. Another metaphor is “Like a chain hauled over a gunwale” which is what wilbur uses to describe the daughter typing on the type writer. The phrase is referring to when a ship sets sail and lifts up the anchor from the ocean floor, just like how the daughter metaphorically sets sail in life.
The third metaphor is in the title "The Writer". It is obvious the father is talking about the girls journey through life on her own just as she is writing the story on the type writer. The girl stops and has struggles with the story just as she will have struggles throughout her life. The bird is also referring to the girl in the poem. The father can only open the window and step back and hope the bird (girl) flies in the right direction.
That is how the poem ends, the father can only point his daughter in the right direction and wish her a "lucky passage".