Friday, July 03, 2009

Poetry Friday -- Work


by Marge Piercy

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.

(the rest of the poem is here)

The round up this week is at Tabatha A. Yeatts.

photo from the Flickr Commons


  1. love it love it LOVE IT. i'd be hard pressed to name a FAVORITE poem, but if i had to this would be it.

  2. This poem has always been one of my very, very favorites, and it makes me think of my fabulous high school English lit and drama teacher, a dear friend with whom I still keep in touch. Thanks for posting it. Haven't read it in a while!

  3. Love that photo too. Great pairing. One of the most satisfying kinds of work I can think of is cooking for people who love your food. Making useful things is good too.

  4. Love this. How do I say this politely? I get a little annoyed when I share about the work I do with kids and others applaud me for it. I don't want praise; I want a hand, some time, some support. I want people to join me in the work. Thank you, Mary Lee. Thank you very much.

  5. I am reminded to pullout Some Piercy to read. Love her work. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I'd like to be convinced by this poem, but something about it makes me nervous. I'm not sure what worries me. Maybe because the images are all about hard manual labor, and I don't want poets painting that kind of work as noble and satisfying. Maybe I'm being too literal, but if so, it's because Piercy chooses all her images to fit that kind of work. Can it be true that people choose to be harnessed like oxen to heavy carts? I think most people who work "in the muck and mud" would love something less poetic. Maybe Piercy just wants us to celebrate our own work, no matter what it is. That's a nice thought. I just don't know how many of us bring in the harvest or "pull like water buffalo" in our jobs - if we did, we might have a different definition of what "to be of use" means.


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