Sunday, 23 October 2011

Poems: Happiness

Raymond Carver was a fantastic short story and poetry writer who was prolific in the 60s, 70s and 80s in spite of chronic alcoholism. You may know him from the Robert Altman film, “Short Cuts” based on his book of short stories. He eventually stopped drinking and ten years later developed terminal lung cancer at the age of 50. These two poems describe his gratitude for the ten years extra years he got (he was on the point of death when he stopped drinking at 40) and are both inscribed on his grave stone. Sobering words indeed and very uplifting.
Happiness by Raymond Carver
No other word will do. For that's what it was.
Gravy, these past ten years.
Alive, sober, working, loving, and
being loved by a good woman. Eleven years
ago he was told he had six months to live
at the rate he was going. And he was going
nowhere but down. So he changed his ways
somehow. He quit drinking! And the rest?
After that it was all gravy, every minute
of it, up to and including when he was told about,
well, some things that were breaking down and
building up inside his head. "Don't weep for me,"
he said to his friends. "I'm a lucky man.
I've had ten years longer than I or anyone
expected. Pure Gravy. And don't forget it."

Late Fragment by Raymond Carver

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

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