Text of the Poem

Not, I'll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist—slack they may be—these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.

But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?

Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,
Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, chéer.
Cheer whom though? The hero whose heaven-handling flung me, fóot tród
Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.


  1. The repeated metaphor of wrestling conveys the speaker's struggle with despair and suffering.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. The speaker questions the purpose of the suffering, suggesting that it may be to separate the worthless ("chaff") from the valuable ("grain").

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. The speaker addresses an unnamed and terrible force, questioning why it inflicts pain and torment. The vivid imagery of a lionlimb and darksome devouring eyes conveys a sense of brutality and suffering.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. The speaker emphatically rejects the idea of succumbing to despair, addressing it as "carrion comfort" — something that is repulsive and associated with the dead.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. The use of enjambment, where sentences and phrases continue without a pause from one line to the next, contributes to the poem's flowing and relentless tone.

    — Allegra Keys, Owl Eyes Editor