The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Marge Piercy's poem To Be of Use


  1. used cars for sale says:

    The poems are awesome and these are meaning full.. and this is very interesting…

  2. hannah says:

    i loved this poem cause it really spoke to me

  3. Lee Lovorn says:

    Speaks to the very heart of the people that I love to meet and be around.

  4. Pamela says:

    Wonderful poem, goes to the heart of what we all seek- to be with those who have the courage, fortitude and guts to “get the job done” no matter what.
    Oh, to have more of those people in this world and oh, to BE more like those people.

  5. Harley says:

    I like how this poem expresses life of the human race to many different things. I hope to read more work like this in the future.

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