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truecomedian's avatar

What do you think, how do you feel about this poem?

Asked by truecomedian (3932points) July 30th, 2010

Be Kind
by Charles Bukowski

we are always asked
to understand the other person’s
viewpoint
no matter how
out-dated
foolish or
obnoxious.
one is asked
to view
their total error
their life-waste
with
kindliness,
especially if they are
aged.
but age is the total of
our doing.
they have aged
badly
because they have
lived
out of focus,
they have refused to
see.
not their fault?
whose fault?
mine?
I am asked to hide
my viewpoint
from them
for fear of their
fear.
age is no crime
but the shame
of a deliberately
wasted
life
among so many
deliberately
wasted
lives
is.

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24 Answers

lapilofu's avatar

Buckowski is a fucked up man—still I like him.

The poem contains a contradiction—he’s asked to respect other people’s viewpoints but to hide his own. I suppose that’s point of what he’s saying—that society asks us for what it won’t allow us to take—but I’ve never felt limited in that way. Then again, I don’t believe in respecting everyone’s viewpoint against all reason, nor do I feel any need to hide mine. Perhaps my superego is faulty.

I don’t know what all the stuff is about age and life waste. I’d be curious to hear someone interpret that.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

It seems that the poem is questioning tolerance for the sake of not hurting a person’s feelings. I’ve never been a big fan of Bukowski, but it makes me want to take another look at some of his writing.

CMaz's avatar

Too many letters.

Ron_C's avatar

I think that I have written to some of the people described in that poem.

It is true that we in the United States sometimes take tolerance and politically correct behavior too far especially with the aged. Fortunately, for me, I can talk to the aged as a peer. I have no trouble telling them when the go off the rails.

Jeruba's avatar

It’s essentially prose arranged in uneven lines, and not especially smooth, evocative, or insightful prose either. It takes more than lowercase and lots of line breaks to make poetry. He has a point, yes, but not a poem.

lapilofu's avatar

@Jeruba Oh, I don’t know. I think the line breaks have an effect on the reading. Much of contemporary poetry could easily be prose without line breaks—the point it how the line breaks change the reading of it. There’s not any particularly clever enjambment or meter, but the roughness of it (and the extra time required to read it rather than a small paragraph) effects a particular feeling in me.

Zyx's avatar

@Jeruba I have never loved you more.

@lapilofu I might have been able to approve when I thought this might be an enjambment fetish, but it’s really just bad writing. It’s like those guys that throw the paint onto the canvas, completely ridiculous.

anartist's avatar

The last 10 lines are pretty sobering and depressing to some persons of a certain age.
You are an astonishingly aware young person.

Jeruba's avatar

@anartist, are you inferring that the OP wrote this verse? This is the author. Here is a collection of his work.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I agree with him – I do not believe in letting go offenses by people who have aged simply because they’re ‘of another time’.

evandad's avatar

Bukowski wrote a great column, but his poetry sucked.

Seek's avatar

The format is aesthetically unappealing. I’m not inclined to force my eyes to read it.

Zyx's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr I once refused to read a story because it had absolutely no newlines. It was just this 5000 word blob. I continued to call the writer a dick and less obviously insult anyone who had taken the time to read that abomination. Just out of curiousity, would you have liked this particular poem better if it had been arranged like a ladder or rolling hills or something?

Seek's avatar

@Zyx

I don’t blame you. My eyes skip over large blocks of text as well. I adore H.P. Lovecraft, but I have to admit even some of his two-page paragraphs are taxing. I often have to read them several times to be sure I didn’t miss something.

I can’t really say whether a ladder or wave would be more pleasing. Perhaps. I do tend to like symmetry. I think the main problem with this is that there doesn’t appear to be a complete thought taking place.

It’s kinda
like
he couldn’t
think of
anything so he
Had
to hit
Enter
every time
He paused
thinking of the
next word
to
write.

Coloma's avatar

Eh…I don’t buy it, it is the typical angsty babble of a depressed and negative soul.

Who the hell is anyone to determine anothers life is a waste anyway?

For all you know your life was more of a waste in terms of basic lack of compassion.

Same old dark drivel that passes as poetry. Blech!

mammal's avatar

A lot of poetry these days is….

philosophical

prose

assembled into a

suitably affected

…...............poetical format.

but Bukowski was a kick up the ass when a kick up the ass was needed.

mammal's avatar

Actually it’s deeply satisfying when somebody nails or discloses something hitherto unacknowledged, particularly if they do it well. it can be humorous, empowering and a relief that someone shares your perspective.

Andreas's avatar

@Coloma “Who the hell is anyone to determine anothers life is a waste anyway?” You must remember that this an impression of a person who has considered this from his own viewpoint at that time, and at a later time may reconsider. PC is all too rampant and means that no-one can ever truly speak their mind without fear of “upsetting” someone.

As for the age aspect: Age is simply an accident of birth, and a real test of the benefit of age is wisdom that has been obtained from keen observation of, and experience in, life. A fool of 100 is essentially the same as a fool of 30, except the 100-year old has drawn breath for 70-years more.

@truecomedian Not my “cup of tea”, either. It is, however, an evergreen subject; a variation of the generation gap-type discussions that will always be. Hence, a topic for constant discussion where nothing will ever be resolved. I do like @mammal‘s comment above, and he is right on the money, so to speak. Wisdom encapsulated in one so young, if his avatar is of himself, that is! Well said.

SmoothEmeraldOasis's avatar

The idea is good but at the end it seemed to need something.

rooeytoo's avatar

It reads like something a young person would write when an older one tramples on their idealism with realism.

SmoothEmeraldOasis's avatar

@rooeytoo I don’t see how you percieve that.
@truecomedian do you have another poem to share?

SVTSuzie's avatar

The poem is stupid.

SmoothEmeraldOasis's avatar

@SVTSuzie Maybe you somehow don’t understand, and it would help if the author to share what inspired the poem, for all of us to be on the same page, so to speak.

Jeruba's avatar

@truecomedian did not write this set of lines.

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