either peace or happiness,
let it enfold you

when i was a young man
I felt these things were
dumb,unsophisticated.
I had bad blood,a twisted
mind, a pecarious
upbringing.

I was hard as granite,I
leered at the
sun.
I trusted no man and
especially no
woman.

I was living a hell in
small rooms, I broke
things, smashed things,
walked through glass,
cursed.
I challenged everything,
was continually being
evicted,jailed,in and
out of fights,in and aout
of my mind.
women were something
to screw and rail
at,i had no male
freinds,

I changed jobs and
cities,I hated holidays,
babies,history,
newspapers, museums,
grandmothers,
marriage, movies,
spiders, garbagemen,
english accents,spain,
france,italy,walnuts and
the color
orange.
algebra angred me,
opera sickened me,
charlie chaplin was a
fake
and flowers were for
pansies.

peace an happiness to me
were signs of
inferiority,
tenants of the weak
an
addled
mind.

but as I went on with
my alley fights,
my suicidal years,
my passage through
any number of
women-it gradually
began to occur to
me
that I wasn’t diffrent

from the
others, I was the same,

they were all fulsome
with hatred,
glossed over with petty
greivances,
the men I fought in
alleys had hearts of stone.
everybody was nudging,
inching, cheating for
some insignificant
advantage,
the lie was the
weapon and the
plot was
emptey,
darkness was the
dictator.

cautiously, I allowed
myself to feel good
at times.
I found moments of
peace in cheap
rooms
just staring at the
knobs of some
dresser
or listening to the
rain in the
dark.
the less i needed
the better i
felt.

maybe the other life had worn me
down.
I no longer found
glamour
in topping somebody
in conversation.
or in mounting the
body of some poor
drunken female
whose life had
slipped away into
sorrow.

I could never accept
life as it was,
i could never gobble
down all its
poisons
but there were parts,
tenous magic parts
open for the
asking.

I re formulated
I don’t know when,
date,time,all
that
but the change
occured.
something in me
relaxed, smoothed
out.
i no longer had to
prove that i was a
man,

I did’nt have to prove
anything.

I began to see things:
coffe cups lined up
behind a counter in a
cafe.
or a dog walking along
a sidewalk.
or the way the mouse
on my dresser top
stopped there
with its body,
its ears,
its nose,
it was fixed,
a bit of life
caught within itself
and its eyes looked
at me
and they were
beautiful.
then- it was
gone.

I began to feel good,
I began to feel good
in the worst situations
and there were plenty
of those.
like say, the boss
behind his desk,
he is going to have
to fire me.

I’ve missed too many
days.
he is dressed in a
suit, necktie, glasses,
he says, “i am going
to have to let you go”

“it’s all right” i tell
him.

He must do what he
must do, he has a
wife, a house, children.
expenses, most probably
a girlfreind.

I am sorry for him
he is caught.

I walk onto the blazing
sunshine.
the whole day is
mine
temporailiy,
anyhow.

(the whole world is at the
throat of the world,
everybody feels angry,
short-changed, cheated,
everybody is despondent,
dissillusioned)

I welcomed shots of
peace, tattered shards of
happiness.

I embraced that stuff
like the hottest number,
like high heels,breasts,
singing,the
works.

(dont get me wrong,
there is such a thing as cockeyed optimism
that overlooks all
basic problems justr for
the sake of
itself-
this is a sheild and a
sickness.)

The knife got near my
throat again,
I almost turned on the
gas
again
but when the good
moments arrived
again
I did’nt fight them off
like an alley
adversary.
I let them take me,
i luxuriated in them,
I bade them welcome
home.
I even looked into
the mirror
once having thought
myself to be
ugly,
I now liked what
I saw,almost
handsome,yes,
a bit ripped and
ragged,
scares,lumps,
odd turns,
but all in all,
not too bad,
almost handsome,
better at least than
some of those movie
star faces
like the cheeks of
a babys
butt.

and finally I discovered
real feelings fo
others,
unhearleded,
like latley,
like this morning,
as I was leaving,
for the track,
i saw my wif in bed,
just the
shape of
her head there
(not forgetting
centuries of the living
and the dead and
the dying,
the pyarimids,
Mozart dead
but his music still
there in the
room, weeds growing,
the earth turning,
the toteboard waiting for
me)
I saw the shape of my
wife’s head,
she so still,
i ached for her life,
just being there
under the
covers.

i kissed her in the,
forehead,
got down the stairway,
got outside,
got into my marvelous
car,
fixed the seatbelt,
backed out the
drive.
feeling warm to
the fingertips,
down to my
foot on the gas
pedal,
I entered the world
once
more,
drove down the
hill
past the houses
full and emptey
of
people,
i saw the mailman,
honked,
he waved
back
at me.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Charles Bukowski's poem Let It Enfold You

21 Comments

  1. Raelynn says:

    This poem definately hit me deep in the soul. It changed my view on life. So much, in fact, that I had to get “Let it Enfold You” tattooed on my body. Marvelous.

  2. Every says:

    I agree with JA. this is an amazing piece of Bukowski’s work but someone ought to edit the insane amount of typos here. it disrupts the reading and full enjoyment of the poem.

  3. JA says:

    Bukowski is one of the greatest poets in recent history, and this work certainly proves that. Still, whoever transcribed this version did a terrible job. It is full of misspellings and typos. Though CB may have hated himself, he was very proud of his work and this really doesn’t do it justice.

  4. Chad says:

    well bro, Buddy of Senses Fail did write the song ‘Let It Enfold You’ after this poem, he read the poem nd if you notice closly to some of the stanzas, he took some of words and made them int parts of the songs, like ”the lie is the weapon” the opening to the song goes ”so the lie now is my weapon” so actually he did base it off this poem..

  5. tess says:

    this poem is found in “Betting on the Muse: (96).

  6. Jazzmin Mathews says:

    This poem is the best I have ever read. Poets like Charles Bukowski make me happy to have an English project on American Poets.

  7. Krystal says:

    This poem is basically the best i’ve ever read. Charles Bukowski is an amazing poet.
    And Mark.. Senses Fail did write a song after it. ‘Let It Enfold You’ is the name of the album and the song.

    http://plyrics.com/lyrics/sensesfail/letitenfoldyou.html

  8. Mike says:

    can anyone or does anyone even know which one of his books this poem can be found in?

  9. mark says:

    This is a great poem. However, Nicole, SF didn’t write a song after it, the album was titled after it.

  10. nicole says:

    senses fail did wirte a song named after this poem and it is by far the best song ever…buddy writes this most amazing songs! check it out

  11. Fisher says:

    this long piece is an excellent example of just why Buk was able to spread literature into the penial system and down at the docks.he’s an achetype “everyman” writer (if, of course, you are an aging white male American). the Formalists always smash away at his methods, flogging the Dead Greats and disappearing up their own navels. this does nothing to detract from his base appeal. when you read his works, you get in on the ground floor of a mans ambitions to destoy the academic snobbery that has left poetry hanging in the lurch like proses’ ugly cousin. he despised those “dilletanttes…playing piss-in-the-hat” that always railed against him. if the tone of this poem appeals to you, beg, borrow or steal ‘Dangling in the Tournefortia’. you’ll love it.

  12. Daniel says:

    If any of you have ever came to really know the words of modest mouse…bukowski is a big impression on Isaac Brock. His words come to almost the same things in ways. Isaac and him lived almost a same life in ways. But when Isaac still looks back at it..he knows what was the asshole and whatnot. Modest Mouse…speaks just the words as I. Bukowski..to Isaac..to any other real lifer..dreamer….drifters that there may be..this. is true living. and loving.

    LO
    VE
    Daniel

  13. megan says:

    this poem is great, but you should check out some of Bukowski’s other stuff- it’s also amazing!!

  14. Scott Tudehope says:

    I don’t see a lot of analysis going on here. Where are the comments on his meter, tempo and mood?

    This reads more like a brief essay on rage, sorrow, anger and despondency. “Found joy” is wherever you can get it. Isn’t that obvious?

    He certainly doesn’t stack up next to Shakespeare, Benet or Yolenzo of Spain.

  15. Chay says:

    Sometimes you feel like there isn’t anything to live for. This man felt so many reasons to die but felt so many reasons to live. There isn’t a person in this world who could say they can’t relate to this scenario. The poem is long but that is needed to create the mood of the poem.

  16. Zach says:

    Joshua is right. Everyone who reads this poem should check out “let it enfold you” and vice versa. Senses Fail singer Buddy Nielsen is a genius and a great poet as well as song writer.

  17. Ben says:

    I still smash bottles and have bad blood. Old Bukowski, now theres a man who knew how to live.

  18. Joshua says:

    Senses Fail wrote a song called “Let it Enfold You” and it’s based off of this poem. You should listen to it, Senses Fail is awesome.

  19. William says:

    Kevin says it’s one of the world’s greatest poems.
    Jim says it’s one of the world’s longest poems.

    Jim sucks.

  20. Jim says:

    From what the other guy said, the poem must be interesting, but it was quite long and i didn’t get past the second line.

  21. Kevin says:

    This is one of the worlds greatist poems because every one can relate to it. every one goes thru a stage of sadness and depression and stress. but you have to look on the bright sides of things because life mit not always be fair but there is always good and happiness and open your mind and heart to the world, let it enfold you.

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