Moving from Cheer to Joy, from Joy to All,
I take a box
And add it to my wild rice, my Cornish game hens.
The slacked or shorted, basketed, identical
Are selves I overlook. Wisdom, said William James,
Is learning what to overlook. And I am wise
If that is wisdom.
Yet somehow, as I buy All from these shelves
And the boy takes it to my station wagon,
What I've become
Troubles me even if I shut my eyes.
When I was young and miserable and pretty
And poor, I'd wish
What all girls wish: to have a husband,
A house and children. Now that I'm old, my wish
That the boy putting groceries in my car
See me. It bewilders me he doesn't see me.
For so many years
I was good enough to eat: the world looked at me
And its mouth watered. How often they have undressed me,
The eyes of strangers!
And, holding their flesh within my flesh, their vile
Imaginings within my imagining,
I too have taken
The chance of life. Now the boy pats my dog
And we start home. Now I am good.
The last mistaken,
Ecstatic, accidental bliss, the blind
Happiness that, bursting, leaves upon the palm
Some soap and water--
It was so long ago, back in some Gay
Twenties, Nineties, I don't know . . . Today I miss
My lovely daughter
Away at school, my sons away at school,
My husband away at work--I wish for them.
The dog, the maid,
And I go through the sure unvarying days
At home in them. As I look at my life,
I am afraid
Only that it will change, as I am changing:
I am afraid, this morning, of my face.
It looks at me
From the rear-view mirror, with the eyes I hate,
The smile I hate. Its plain, lined look
Of gray discovery
Repeats to me: "You're old." That's all, I'm old.
And yet I'm afraid, as I was at the funeral
I went to yesterday.
My friend's cold made-up face, granite among its flowers,
Her undressed, operated-on, dressed body
Were my face and body.
As I think of her and I hear her telling me
How young I seem; I am exceptional;
I think of all I have.
But really no one is exceptional,
No one has anything, I'm anybody,
I stand beside my grave
Confused with my life, that is commonplace and solitary.
Randall Jarrell's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (Next Day by Randall Jarrell )
- OFTEN WHEN LAUGHING, Terry Collett
- जिउनि दाइरियाव,2013, Ronjoy Brahma
- At That Moment All Ugliness was Undone., Akhtar Jawad
- Anonymous, Elia Michael
- Poor Birds of Cage, Pius Didier
- Christmas Differences, Melissa Furey
- Celebration, Shruti Goswami
- Leave Behind, Shruti Goswami
- Unceremonious, Shruti Goswami
- Restful Nights, Margaret Moran
Poem of the Day
- 04 Tongues Made Of Glass, Shaun Shane
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
- A Child's Christmas in Wales, Dylan Thomas
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- Dulce et Decorum Est, Wilfred Owen
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
- Invictus, William Ernest Henley
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
Rainer Maria Rilke
(4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926)
(13 September 1916 – 23 November 1990)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)