Even as a child
Even as a child
my face was “gloomy.” I found
few reasons to smile, none to laugh:
father gutting his great gifts
for the cheers of clowns.
For us. For money. My mother
dazed by drugs. My brother
charming, selfless. But also
smirking, corrupt. All lying,
and loving each other. Comedy?
From the fool’s angle, the coward’s angle. Laughter
means turning your back on suffering.
And on the hard truth that tragedy
writes the last act—always. I loved
the sea because it said that.
With infinite dignity and calm
and terrible firmness.
Knowing too well
the struggle and sorrow of life I tried hard
to believe, to help. In plays I wanted
to bring our past alive—the brave dreams.
But probing deep I saw cruelty, decay.
In my last year I could only rage
that our country too had cast away
the best chance ever—like my father!
For greed, blind greed, we grew deaf
to the one question that matters, “What
does it profit a man if he gain the whole world but...”
Damn! Damn our dumb callousness.
Eugene O'Neill's Other Poems
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Comments about this poem (Even as a child by Eugene O'Neill )
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
William Butler Yeats
(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
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