So early it’s still almost dark out.
I’m near the window with coffee,
and the usual early morning stuff
that passes for thought.

When I see the boy and his friend
walking up the road
to deliver the newspaper.

They wear caps and sweaters,
and one boy has a bag over his shoulder.
They are so happy
they aren’t saying anything, these boys.

I think if they could, they would take
each other’s arm.
It’s early in the morning,
and they are doing this thing together.

They come on, slowly.
The sky is taking on light,
though the moon still hangs pale over the water.

Such beauty that for a minute
death and ambition, even love,
doesn’t enter into this.

Happiness. It comes on
unexpectedly. And goes beyond, really,
any early morning talk about it.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Raymond Carver's poem Happiness


  1. Danny boy says:

    It amazes me that there are certain people who go to the trouble of posting a comment on here informing the masses that they don’t understand this poem and that its mundane/boring whatever. Maybe these people are exploring the worng type of literature…..try OK magazine or HELLO ! This poem to me reads as though Carver himself is able to find relief from all the chaos in his life, perhaps his fears of ill health, leaving behind loved ones etc. He focuses on the two boys outside delivering papers and is overcome by the innocence and purity of their presence. Yes they are “just paperboys” however, anyone with a single ounce of compassion or intellect should find some kind of pleasure in entering into the writer’s mindset. I love this poem. Anyone who has had pain in their lives like myself I am sure will find solice in this poem.

  2. Daniel says:

    Carver is my favourite writer and poet, I love his simplicity, lack of pretentions and subtleness. I had read this poeam thousands of times and it never stops amazing me his straightness, his almost totally naked writing.

  3. vanja says:

    This is beautifull poem about a beautifull moment.That is happiness.

  4. Jimisha says:

    i think this was a good poem. i took a while for me to understand it but whin i did i totally got the whole meaning of what you where talking about.

  5. Nicole says:

    I really liked this poem. I resently had to memorize it for school. It pretty much shows you that Happiness doesnt just come to you and that you have to look for it.

  6. gryeeukt says:

    i thought that it was an okay poem and I don’t care what u say!!!!

  7. Trilobyte says:

    I wouldn’t say it’s wrong to bash. Everyone has an opinion and a right to share it(respectfully). But if you are going to bash it, then explain why. And ‘I think it’s stupid’ doesn’t ccount. Be articulate. And if you don’t understand it and a lot of others do, then maybe you need to ask yourself why you’re missing something. And then, maybe ask someone what they get out of it and why they get what they do. Believe me, you will only be a greater person for it, by growing. It should be an ongoing process for us all.

    I wanted to comment on the poem though. I thought it perfect. He sees these two young boys and in them he sees contentment. And in seeing their happiness and contentment, I feel he pulls in a little bit for himself. There’s so much there, the boys innocence, lack of responsibility, uncomplicated friendship, their simple life, that could be cherished.

  8. kavya says:

    this poem is simply very very nice. there is nothing to say anything more about this poem

  9. Olivia says:

    I think this poem was boring!
    I had to do this for a report.
    It doesn’t make sense AT ALL!!!
    But I have to petend to understand it.

    So what their paperboys. I mean come on, it’s not fasinating.

  10. TjB says:

    This poem is wonderful. It portrays a moment of tranquility that could easily be written as a short story, which was the exact form of literature that Carver is most known for. If you read carefully, there is one primary sensory element that stands out: sound. There is not a single word depicting noise in the entire poem. Scent is absent as well. However, sound is most important. The burden of thoughts which pounded the speaker’s mind was lifted when he glimpsed at a casual, even mundane, scene of complete serenity. There is no sound, there is no harmful noise–no malignance. Carver himself would have liked to have devolved from his position as an artist, a husband, and a father–just for a second–into a child given a simple task, accompanied by a mutual friend. If you notice something else, the speaker is alone.

  11. stef says:

    yup this poem is nasty well i think

    its is about to guys kissing anotherwards this poem is about being gay(both ways)

    yup thats what i think

  12. judith says:

    I love this poem~The fractured syntax emphasies the fact that the feeling (of happiness) ‘goes beyond any early morning thought’. The description of the boys is simple, thus the lyrical description of the sky draws our attention to the moment (of time when he suddenly feels happy) rather than the events that are happening, and gives me the idea that perhaps when you are happy you tend to describe other things as happy (the boys). And I like the ideas that eudora and katie proposed as well.

  13. Eudora Chua says:

    I read the poem and I think it’s wonderfully written. Please don’t bash the poem and do your research first before posting. This man died in 1988 and his poetry has lasted until now, it did not die with him because it is well-written. The poem makes you think because of the way it’s written–if it was truly bad it won’t affect you at all, you won’t even want to bash it. it’s about how happiness can be unexpected, how happiness is a fleeting transient thing, a short feeling of peace, when adult concerns like ‘death’ and ‘ambition’ don’t matter.
    and IMHO, when you don’t like poetry, it isn’t that the poetry is bad but rather you can’t appreciate it properly.

  14. Hmm... says:

    Why all write about clothes? I don’t understand this… 🙁 I don’t like this… but rest is ok… very ok

  15. Kamal says:

    I don’t understand how anyone can thing this poem is being happy. Its about the exact opposite, and the idea “happiness” is discussed only to highlight its foil.

    The narrator is inside up in the morning filled with thoughts. He sees two young children (but is no longer young), walking happy so much so if they could they would take each other’s arms. But they can’t?

    And maybe all this comes unexpectedly, but the morning (ironic choice of words) is the shortest part of the day, and will pass like this brief moment of happiness.

    Its a Thomas Hardyesque view of a very real life punctuated by fluctuating moments of joy.

    “Life is tale told by idion, full of sound and fury…”

    Anyway, just a thought. I’m probably wrong.

  16. Katie says:

    This poem means that happiness comes unexpectedly from within you. In this case in the morning when everything is fresh and new and nothing matters except for the present moment.

  17. Janet (not Jackson) says:

    I like this poem becuase it expresses the authors feeling and views to happines. i’m sorrry but i have to disagree with some of your comments. And if a poet dies, respect must be shown to the poet.

  18. Kyle says:

    Guys, have some courtesy would you. For one, he died in 1988, way before it was posted up on this website. He isn’t going to respond to them, 😉 Anyway, don’t bash a poem just because you can, if you want to bash something go outsite and use a golf club or something of the sort.

  19. Brook Sherman says:

    The peom you wrote is very stupid and i dont even understand it but i guess it took some work so good job.

  20. Kara Alhiem says:

    Your poem is a mystery to me. I guess it means that your happy with out notice. I get like that al;ot. Sometimes ill be daydreaming but really be happy. Its stange but i think u no what i mean

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