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« "Modern Love": XVII [by George Meredith] | Main | Fred Astaire and Aunt Carrie: Ed Ochester at the New School [by Lindsay Daigle] »

November 06, 2008


This is one of my favorite poems and it doesn't seem like Bukowski to me. Thanks.

I agree - Bukowski usually isn't this hopeful. A lovely poem.

One of my favorite poems. Very provocative and inspiring.

Love this poem, but you've got one of the lines wrong (every site I look at does, though). I have the original printing of this. The line "there is a light somewhere," should be "there is light somewhere."

I have a friend who’s really good in writing a poem, too. She writes inspiring poem just like you and I admire you both.

Good poem. However, I would have cut the last three lines, making it a perfect poem.

Life is LIFE

Said like a true alcoholic; I know, I am.

Light means hope, then we need to do meaningful things in our life, before death coming.

Always has a way of making the misery escapable as long as the mind and heart are set on the horizon of a fading light.

I cant find this poem on

Is this really Bukowski?

When I first heard this recited, I thought it was one of the lectures by Joseph Campbell, whom I love. Was surprised it was Bukowski. The last three lines are absolutely the best. Without them, the poem would be just good. With them, it’s great! Here’s to the Old Gods!❤️

The numb nut who said he would have cut the last 3 lines therefore making it a perfect poem... Well yes indeed I suppose it would be. You know the perfect poem. Poetry that is...Perfect. 99.9 percent of all poetry is written by people trying to write the perfect poem. And guess what? Most of them succeed at writing poetry, perfectly. And that's why hardly anyone will ever read it. Except maybe there mother , themselves and the person there sleeping with. Thank God for Bukowski. He wasn't aiming at perfection but as he said" getting down the word the line." Poetry books are sadly full of the perfect poem and or poems. That's why you can line your bird cage with most of it's pages.

Perhaps the most powerful words I've ever heard. Coming from Charles Bukowski, maybe the biggest nihilist to ever live. I am still in awe of its beauty.


alchoholism is "dank"

I am in the camp that the last three lines are the best part of the poem. Why does this one person hate the last three lines? It is possible that they are just trolling, but I usually take people at face value so let's assume that they really do hate the last three lines. Why? My very first thought was that maybe they hate the idea of gods, but I don't think that is their problem since then they would just hate the last two lines. What the last three lines all have in common is an assurance that the reader is at a fundamental level very good and valuable. The person who complained may see this as unsupported hope. They may say that you can't just assert that a person is valuable. Why should we just say that a person is marvelous, maybe people are really all garbage. Why should we assume that the gods would ever delight in us, maybe they are completely disgusted by us. The debate is whether the gods fundamentally see humanity as worthy or worthless. The idea of the gods waiting is the much debated concept of free will. We have the innate capacity for being marvelous and delightful, but we must choose whether we are going to express that or not. But what if we don't know how to do that? If we sincerely look, we can find people who will teach us how to be marvelous and delightful.

Parts of this poem were set to music and posted to Youtube. It's worth checking out (22 million views). This link really will take you to the song.

Life has its ups &downs 4 sure.when da persona is in a rosy mood,da world seems 2 be his/her oyster,if in a lousy mood,demons seem 2 be swarming on da has never been a bowl o strawberries w cream&sugar on top,not has death deprived da planet o a priceless jewel by taking live.

My two cents ...

Whenever I read poetry, I view it two ways: 1) What the author intended; 2) What it means to me. Sometimes, they are in alignment. Sometimes, they aren't. Take T.S. Eliot's "Hollow Men". I view it differently than T.S. Eliot intended.

Here are how I take Bukowski's poem.

Every individual deserves his/her life. It's a gift. Live it as you will. However, we have built a society that demands that you conform. Some people struggle with that conformity more than others. Those that struggle, really..Really...REALLY struggle.

Bukowski is speaking to them. He's saying "Be you. You are marvelous." If you do choose to be you, the Gods will delight in you. In fact, they are waiting patiently so they can delight in you.

Again, this is how I read the poem. Right or wrong.

The gods will delight but yoy will not be happy or successgul in the world's term,at least most. Don't tirn the Buk into new age pap.

I think the chap that talked of cutting the last 3 lines.. you're all wondering why he hated those 3 lines. And maybe he did. But if you don't wonder about the 3 lines he asked to cut, and instead look at the line where the poem would have ended with said lines cut.. I think it would make more sense.

The poem begins with the line... Your life is your life. and if the last 3 were cut.. it would end with the line... Your life is your life.

Response to the consideration of the poem’s value with or without the last three lines:
One way I thought about it is this:

Without the last three lines, the tone of the message feels confrontational, empowering the reader to push back, to push against in order to pursue being true to one’s self.
And poetically/structurally, this provides no resolve.

Including the last three lines, the tone shifts to hopeful, and suggests an exchange of one kind of submission (against the expected cultural norms) for a different kind of submission (being delighted in)
And poetically/structurally, this provides a satisfying resolve

Either way, Bukowski invites the reader to personalize the message.

I love this forum
I love this poem
To me it talks about hope. The poet is saying life is hard, dark, it will try to break ( club you) you down. However there is also light if you look for it. Be on the watch for these little glimmers of hope. You can overcome ( beat it down) the darkness. The poet acknowledges something beyond us humans. For the gods are watching us and know our wholeness and are waiting to be marvelled. To me it is about recovery. 🥰

I disagree that the last three lines belong any less than the rest of them. Stopping at "know it while you have it" fails to convey as much hope about an inherently unknowable future as he clearly intended to.

mechs??? whats up

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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