By Robert Creeley

A Bit About Robert Creeley

Born in Arlington, MA in 1926, Creeley was destined to become a poet. He attended Harvard in in 1943-46, and published his first poem, Wake, in 1946. Over the years he has written over sixty poetry books, and over a dozen books of essays. He died in 2005 at the age of 78, in Odessa, TX.

Poem and Interpretation


By Robert Creeley

He wants to be

a brutal old man,

an aggressive old man,

as dull, as brutal

as the emptiness around him,

He doesn't want compromise,

nor to be ever nice

to anyone. Just mean,

and final in his brutal,

his total, rejection of it all.

He tried the sweet,

the gentle, the “oh,

let’s hold hands together”

and it was awful,

dull, brutally inconsequential.

Now he’ll stand on

his own dwindling legs.

His arms, his skin,

shrink daily. And

he loves, but hates equally.

This poem is symbolizing the way people often cannot change from who they actually are. They can't pretend to be someone they are not, similar to when the old man tried to be nice, but couldn't. This poem's theme is a reminder that people are generally unchanging.

These three self-portraits seem like they would be similar to the self-portrait of the old man portrayed in the poem.
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