by Lawrence Raab
You’ve tried the rest.
You’ve waited long enough.
Everything catches up with you.
And you’re too old,
or too young.
Or you don’t have the money
or you don’t have the time.
Maybe you’re shy, and maybe
you’re just afraid.
How often have you heard it,
have you promised
yourself you’d try
something really different
if you had the chance?
Though you can’t help but wonder
if all those people
know what they’re doing, now
you’re saying it with them:
catches up with us,
and it starts to show.
We’ve waited all our lives, or as long
as we can remember, whichever
is long enough.
I pinned Lawrence Raab’s “The Rest” on a bulletin board at my local post office. This poem depresses me, it feels heavy in spite of Raab’s expert light touch. But I’ve gotten Raab really wrong before, so I leave it to you. Hopeful or hopeless? Or am I asking the wrong question?
From a previous post:
Lawrence Raab was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1946. He went to Middlebury College and earned his masters from Syracuse. He’s taught at University of Michigan, American University, and these days at Williams College. He’s one numerous awards and grants and has published seven collections of poetry. This poem, “Marriage,” comes from his 1993 collection What We Don’t Know About Each Other.
Raab has also written screenplays and adapted Aristophanes’ The Birds for theater.
So depressing!!!!!!!!! WOW he really nails the restlessness … I’m trying to read it another way, like deciding “I have arrived” instead of trying trying doing doing, like slowing your speed to enjoy life…but I’m not reading that yet!
Sent with rowdy bliss
To me it points more towards a lifetime of inaction….a J. Prufrock-style of putting off life (“Do I dare eat a peach?”) in favor of not disturbing the universe (to keep with the Eliot theme).
I agree though that he captures that restless spirit of “I want to do this/I can’t do this/I hate myself for not doing something.”
“You’ve tried the rest
You’ve waited long enough…”
“Eventually everything catches
Up with us, and starts to show”
What if they all point to “Wisdom”?
All of the effort, mistakes, pain—trying?
What if wisdom is what starts to show?
“Isn’t it pretty to think so?” the cynical part of me says (question not mine but Jake’s from Sun Also Rises).
But gaining wisdom is always a possible outcome when we’re faced with frustration, failure and pain.
Thanks, Mary Lee. I like your coda to the poem, it reads like it’s part of it.
Thanks Poem Elf.
I’m 70 yo and able to look
back at a life of all sorts of pain,
Wisdom is all I have left; that and
the love of daughters and
A poem needs to be written about
the sadness of all our wasted
wisdom. None of my posterity wants to
hear what I’ve learned. They seem
determined to make the same ones!
Poem Elf I have been following your
blog for six years and love the
places you choose to put the poems!