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I copied this poem out of The New Yorker ages ago.

I love imperative poems, poems which tell you to go and DO something (but not didactic poems, there is a difference). How can you argue with a poem which begins “be yourself”? It is slightly grim, this poem, and yet…and yet…I find it weirdly affirming (but then my favourite bands are The Smiths and Joy Division, so perhaps I’m a bit of a miserablist.)


by Dennis O’Driscoll

Be yourself; show your flyblown eyes
to the world, give no cause for concern,
wash the paunchy body whose means you
live within, suffer the illnesses
that are your prerogative alone-

the prognosis refers to nobody but you;
you it is who gets up every morning
in your skin, you who chews your dinner
with your mercury-filled teeth, gaining
garlic-breath or weight, you dreading,

you hoping, you regretting, you interloping.