'Let It Enfold You' by Charles Bukowski

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either peace or happiness,
let it enfold youwhen i was a young man
I felt these things were
I had bad blood,a twisted
mind, a pecarious
upbringing.I was hard as granite,I
leered at thesun.
I trusted no man and
especially no
woman.I was living a hell in
small rooms, I broke
things, smashed things,
walked through glass,
I challenged everything,
was continually being
evicted,jailed,in and
out of fights,in and aout
of my mind.
women were something
to screw and rail
at,i had no male
freinds,I changed jobs and
cities,I hated holidays,
newspapers, museums,
marriage, movies,
spiders, garbagemen,
english accents,spain,
france,italy,walnuts and
the colororange.
algebra angred me,
opera sickened me,
charlie chaplin was a
and flowers were for
pansies.peace an happiness to me
were signs of
tenants of the weak
mind.but as I went on with
my alley fights,
my suicidal years,
my passage through
any number ofwomen-it gradually
began to occur to
that I wasn't diffrentfrom the
others, I was the same,they were all fulsome
with hatred,
glossed over with petty
the men I fought in
alleys had hearts of stone.
everybody was nudging,
inching, cheating for
some insignificant
the lie was the
weapon and the
plot was
darkness was the
dictator.cautiously, I allowed
myself to feel good
at times.
I found moments ofpeace in cheap
just staring at theknobs of some
or listening to the
rain in thedark.
the less i needed
the better ifelt.maybe the other life had worn medown.
I no longer found
in topping somebody
in conversation.
or in mounting the
body of some poor
drunken female
whose life hadslipped away intosorrow.I could never accept
life as it was,
i could never gobbledown all its
but there were parts,
tenous magic parts
open for the
asking.I re formulated
I don't know when,
but the change
something in me
relaxed, smoothed
i no longer had toprove that i was aman,I did'nt have to prove
anything.I began to see things:
coffe cups lined up
behind a counter in acafe.
or a dog walking along
a sidewalk.
or the way the mouse
on my dresser top
stopped there
with its body,
its ears,
its nose,
it was fixed,
a bit of life
caught within itself
and its eyes lookedat me
and they were
then- it was
gone.I began to feel good,
I began to feel good
in the worst situations
and there were plenty
of those.
like say, the boss
behind his desk,
he is going to have
to fire me.I've missed too manydays.
he is dressed in a
suit, necktie, glasses,
he says, "i am going
to have to let you go""it's all right" i tell
him.He must do what he
must do, he has awife, a house, children.
expenses, most probably
a girlfreind.I am sorry for him
he is caught.I walk onto the blazing
the whole day is
anyhow.(the whole world is at the
throat of the world,
everybody feels angry,
short-changed, cheated,
everybody is despondent,
dissillusioned)I welcomed shots of
peace, tattered shards of
happiness.I embraced that stuff
like the hottest number,
like high heels,breasts,
works.(dont get me wrong,
there is such a thing as cockeyed optimism
that overlooks all
basic problems justr for
the sake of
this is a sheild and asickness.)The knife got near my
throat again,
I almost turned on the
but when the good
moments arrived
I did'nt fight them off
like an alleyadversary.
I let them take me,
i luxuriated in them,
I bade them welcome
I even looked into
the mirror
once having thought
myself to be
I now liked what
I saw,almost
a bit ripped and
odd turns,
but all in all,
not too bad,
almost handsome,
better at least than
some of those movie
star faces
like the cheeks of
a babys
butt.and finally I discovered
real feelings fo
like latley,
like this morning,
as I was leaving,
for the track,
i saw my wif in bed,
just theshape of
her head there
(not forgetting
centuries of the living
and the dead and
the dying,
the pyarimids,
Mozart dead
but his music stillthere in the
room, weeds growing,
the earth turning,
the toteboard waiting for
I saw the shape of my
wife's head,
she so still,
i ached for her life,
just being there
under thecovers.i kissed her in the,
got down the stairway,
got outside,
got into my marvelous
fixed the seatbelt,
backed out the
feeling warm to
the fingertips,
down to my
foot on the gas
I entered the world
drove down thehill
past the houses
full and emptey
i saw the mailman,
he waved
at me.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Let It Enfold You: A Deep Dive into Bukowski's Poetry

Are you a fan of raw, unapologetic poetry that doesn't shy away from the grit and grime of life? If so, then Let It Enfold You by Charles Bukowski is a must-read for you. This collection of poems is a masterful exploration of love, sex, death, and everything in between. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we'll take a deep dive into Bukowski's world and uncover the beauty in the darkness.

The Life of Bukowski

Before we dive into the poems themselves, it's important to understand the life of the man behind the words. Bukowski was a prolific writer, producing over 45 books of poetry and prose throughout his career. He was known for his hard-drinking, womanizing lifestyle, which often served as fodder for his writing.

Bukowski was born in Germany in 1920, but his family immigrated to the United States when he was still a child. He grew up in poverty and struggled with alcoholism for most of his life. Despite these challenges, Bukowski was a highly successful writer and is still regarded as one of the most influential poets of the 20th century.

The Themes of Let It Enfold You

Let It Enfold You is a collection of poems that explores a wide variety of themes. One of the most prominent themes is love, both the joy and pain that comes with it. Bukowski writes about falling in love, heartbreak, and the complexities of relationships.

Another theme that runs throughout the collection is death. Bukowski writes about death in a way that is both dark and beautiful, exploring the inevitability of our own mortality. He also writes about the pain of losing loved ones and the struggle to come to terms with our own mortality.

Sexuality is another prominent theme in Let It Enfold You. Bukowski writes about sex in a way that is raw and unfiltered, exploring the physical and emotional aspects of intimacy. He writes about sex as a way to connect with others and as a way to escape from the pain of life.

Finally, Let It Enfold You is also a collection that explores the human experience. Bukowski writes about the struggle to find meaning in life, the pain of loneliness, and the beauty in the small moments that make up our lives. He writes about the human condition in a way that is honest and unflinching, refusing to shy away from the darker aspects of our existence.

The Style of Bukowski

Bukowski's writing is known for its raw, unfiltered style. He uses simple language and direct imagery to create a world that is both gritty and beautiful. His poems are often written in free verse, allowing the words to flow naturally and creating a sense of spontaneity.

One of the most distinctive aspects of Bukowski's style is his use of repetition. He often repeats phrases or lines throughout his poems, creating a sense of rhythm and emphasizing the themes he is exploring. This repetition also serves to create a sense of urgency, as if Bukowski is trying to drive home a point to his readers.

Bukowski's poems are also known for their honesty. He writes about his own experiences and emotions in a way that is unapologetic and raw. He doesn't shy away from the darker aspects of life, but instead embraces them and finds beauty in them. His writing is a reflection of his own personality, and his poems are filled with his unique perspective on the world.

The Poems of Let It Enfold You

Now that we've explored the themes and style of Bukowski's writing, let's take a closer look at some of the poems in Let It Enfold You.

"An Almost Made Up Poem"

This poem is a beautiful exploration of the pain of lost love. Bukowski writes about the memories that haunt us after a relationship has ended, and the struggle to move on. He repeats the line "nobody feels good later" throughout the poem, emphasizing the inevitability of the pain that comes with heartbreak.

"The Bluebird"

"The Bluebird" is a poem that explores the beauty that can be found in the small moments of life. Bukowski writes about seeing a bluebird in his backyard and the joy that it brings him. He contrasts this moment of beauty with the pain and suffering that he sees in the world around him, creating a sense of hope in the face of darkness.

"The Crunch"

"The Crunch" is a poem that explores the inevitability of death. Bukowski writes about the moment when we realize that our time is running out and the panic that sets in. He contrasts this fear with the acceptance that comes with the knowledge that death is an inevitability for all of us.

"The Laughing Heart"

"The Laughing Heart" is a poem that celebrates the beauty of life. Bukowski writes about the joy that can be found in simply being alive, and the importance of living life to the fullest. He encourages his readers to embrace their passions and to make the most of every moment.


Let It Enfold You is a collection of poems that explores the beauty in the darkness. Bukowski's writing is raw and unfiltered, exploring the themes of love, death, and the human experience in a way that is both honest and unflinching. His writing is a reflection of his own personality, and his poems are filled with his unique perspective on the world.

If you're a fan of poetry that doesn't shy away from the gritty realities of life, Let It Enfold You is a must-read. Bukowski's writing is a testament to the power of poetry to explore the complexities of the human experience and to find beauty in the darkest of places.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Let It Enfold You: A Masterpiece of Bukowski's Poetry

Charles Bukowski, a renowned American poet, novelist, and short-story writer, is known for his raw and unfiltered writing style that captures the essence of the human experience. His poem "Let It Enfold You" is a masterpiece that delves into the complexities of life, love, and the human condition. In this article, we will analyze and explain the poem's themes, structure, and literary devices, and explore how Bukowski's unique style contributes to its impact.

The poem begins with the line "either peace or happiness, let it enfold you," which sets the tone for the rest of the piece. Bukowski is urging the reader to embrace either peace or happiness, suggesting that they are mutually exclusive. The use of the word "enfold" is significant, as it implies a sense of comfort and protection. Bukowski is suggesting that we should allow ourselves to be enveloped by either peace or happiness, as if they were a warm blanket on a cold day.

The first stanza continues with the lines "when I was a young man / I felt these things were / dumb, unsophisticated. / I had bad blood, a twisted / mind, a precarious / upbringing." Here, Bukowski is reflecting on his own past and acknowledging that he once saw peace and happiness as naive and unsophisticated. He attributes this to his troubled upbringing and twisted mind, suggesting that his past experiences have shaped his worldview.

The second stanza begins with the line "but I have seen / that everything is about / sex except sex / which is about power." This line is a commentary on the nature of human relationships and the power dynamics that exist within them. Bukowski is suggesting that everything we do, including our pursuit of happiness and peace, is ultimately driven by our desire for power. This idea is further explored in the following lines, which state that "power is not happiness / and won't bring you peace." Bukowski is suggesting that the pursuit of power is ultimately futile and will not lead to true happiness or peace.

The third stanza begins with the line "I learned that much / and know it from my / own life." Here, Bukowski is drawing on his own experiences to support his argument. He goes on to say that "I learned it too / from the lives of others / who had come before me." This line suggests that Bukowski has learned from the experiences of others, and that his worldview has been shaped by the collective wisdom of those who came before him.

The fourth stanza begins with the line "was I always a man / who felt things deeply?" This line is a rhetorical question, and Bukowski goes on to answer it by saying that "yes I was / but through the years / I have built up / a shell / so that now / nothing hurts me." Here, Bukowski is reflecting on the emotional walls he has built up over the years to protect himself from pain. He is suggesting that this emotional armor has made him numb to the world around him, and that he has lost touch with his own emotions.

The fifth stanza begins with the line "I don't know / what the future holds / but I know that I'm / ready for whatever / comes." Here, Bukowski is expressing a sense of acceptance and readiness for whatever the future may bring. He is suggesting that he has come to terms with the uncertainties of life and is prepared to face them head-on.

The final stanza begins with the line "and I have learned / that the best thing to do / is to let it all / be as it is / and let it enfold you." Here, Bukowski is returning to the poem's central theme of embracing either peace or happiness. He is suggesting that the best way to find peace and happiness is to let go of our desire for power and control, and to allow ourselves to be enveloped by the world around us.

In terms of structure, the poem is divided into six stanzas, each consisting of four lines. The consistent structure gives the poem a sense of rhythm and flow, and allows Bukowski to explore his ideas in a structured and organized way.

In terms of literary devices, Bukowski employs a number of techniques to enhance the poem's impact. One of the most notable is his use of imagery, which is particularly effective in the lines "either peace or happiness, / let it enfold you / when I was a young man / I felt these things were / dumb, unsophisticated." Here, Bukowski is using the image of being enveloped by peace or happiness to convey a sense of comfort and protection. He is contrasting this with his own past view of these emotions as naive and unsophisticated, creating a sense of tension and conflict within the poem.

Bukowski also employs repetition to great effect, particularly in the lines "power is not happiness / and won't bring you peace." The repetition of these lines emphasizes Bukowski's central argument, and reinforces the idea that the pursuit of power is ultimately futile.

Finally, Bukowski's unique writing style is a key factor in the poem's impact. His raw and unfiltered approach allows him to explore complex themes and ideas in a way that is both accessible and relatable. He is able to convey a sense of vulnerability and honesty that is rare in contemporary poetry, and this is what makes "Let It Enfold You" such a powerful and enduring work.

In conclusion, "Let It Enfold You" is a masterpiece of Bukowski's poetry that explores the complexities of life, love, and the human condition. Through his use of imagery, repetition, and his unique writing style, Bukowski is able to convey a sense of vulnerability and honesty that is both powerful and relatable. The poem's central message of embracing either peace or happiness is a timeless one, and its impact is as relevant today as it was when it was first written.

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