Friday, February 8, 2013

I Wish I'd Written This

Late Fragment
By Raymond Carver (1938 - 1988)

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.

A simple yet powerful statement of that which, I believe, we all want. May we all achieve it!

Raymond Carver was best known as a short story writer, in the style known as dirty realism, but I am much fonder of his poetry.

At this link is a wonderful video about his life, with readings of some poems, embedded in an article with copies of others.

The piece above was written when he was dying of lung cancer and was well aware of the fact. It is the last poem in his book A New Path to the Waterfall: Last PoemsWikipedia tells me it is on his tombstone, along with another, Gravy. There are more poems here.

Like his stories, his poems use simple, direct language. They use it in a way that is new and beautiful, that stays with you, e.g.:

The Net

Toward evening the wind changes. Boats
still out on the bay
head for shore. A man with one arm
sits on the keep of a rotting-away
vessel, working on a glimmering net.
He raises his eyes. Pulls at something
with his teeth, and bites hard.
I go past without a word.
Reduced to confusion
by the variableness of this weather,
the importunities of my heart, I keep
going. When I turn back to look
I'm far enough away
to see that man caught in a net.

Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).


  1. Wow, kiddo, this is one of my favorite passages ever. I have always loved it. Gravy is great too. Makes us remember to appreciate the day at hand, while we have it. His words do stay with his reader. Thanks, kiddo.

  2. Another fantastic share. Rosemary you are my Enlightener. What a fantastic poet Carver, he gets right to it without adding extra weight.

  3. This (and him) remind me of the poetry of William Stafford. Simple, direct, but layered in the best of ways.

    Thank you, Rosemary.

    Lady Nyo

  4. Dear Rosemary, I so look forward to these Friday posts of yours. Thank you for widening my poetry horizon.

  5. Raymond Carver has long been a favorite. You have reminded me why this is so. Thank you, Rosemary.

  6. Thank you for bringing Carter to me; he will henceforth be one of my favorites. What a vision! The "Late Fragment" is caught in my throat; "The Net" is an image that defies a vision--there is the net and the accomplishment, both seen here as I have seen more than once on piers in more than one place.

    1. WOW! I just watched the must-see video. Some of it reminds me of country poverty in rural upstate NY and may give me the courage to explore that more deeply in my writing.

  7. So glad you wrote about Raymond Carver on the site, just read quite a few of his poems. Love his style, so much revealed in few words. He was truly a remarkable poet, now a favorite of mine.

  8. I had never heard of Raymond Carver. I really liked BOTH of the poems you shared. What a shame that he died so young.

  9. I am always a little hesitant when posting material which might be considered famous (at least in poetry-loving circles). And when I do, I am always heartened to discover that every such poet is still a wonderful new discovery for many people ... and that those who knew his/her work already enjoy renewing the acquaintance. As I do, in finding things to share with you. :)


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