The Laughing Heart, Charles Bukowski – an Analysis


Is it laughing manically because it’s fallen for the wrong person yet again, or is it laughing out of cruelness for having one the contest of deciding between your heart and your head?

Gut Reaction
Wow. That’s kind of a strong poem that I really needed to hear right now. Your life is yours to live; live it well.

What does it all mean?
your life is your life
A simple truth but one I imagine most of us forget more than we remember.
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
You can picture the personified Life here, cowering in a cold, damp place with some bully overhead, club in hand, forcing it to back down, be quiet, be small. Think about it: you are that bully when you don’t let your own Life live.
be on the watch.
Now are we keeping an eye out from those who would rob us of our life, or are we watching out for ourselves when we do it to ourselves?
there are ways out.
…tell me more?
there is a light somewhere.
Are we talking tea candle or glaring-in-the-fact Maglite?
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.

Oh. That is true, isn’t it? A light is still brighter than darkness, whether it’s a flicker or a full blown glow.
be on the watch.

I think this is a reminder to be alert to the things that you allow to prevent yourself from living your life the way you really want to. And the fact that the poet has repeated it twice shows how important a statement it is.
the gods will offer you chances.
How about you take your God, and I take my Universe, and I meet you halfway? Oh, wait, you said gods… generic for any god that you worship, okay I like that, better.
know them.
Um. I’ll try?
take them.
Take them where? Won’t they object? And are they portable?
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.

Now what does that mean? You can’t beat death – fine, got that, we are mere mortals and all that. But how do you beat death in life? Do you mean the ‘temporary’ death we experience when we stop ourselves from living, from doing the things that make us happiest? When we give in to our dark days are we killing ourselves temporarily? And when we’re strong and rise about these dark days, are we beating death in life?
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.

Okay, so the more often we fight back the dark days, the more light days there will be. Got it, that makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?
your life is your life.
Why yes, it is…
know it while you have it.
Don’t waste it. Learn who you are whilst you are alive, not when you’re almost not.
you are marvellous
Why, thank you **blushes** 🙂 but. We are, if you think about it. No one knows our story like we do. No one will be born to be the exact same person that we are. Even our faults and flaws are miracles of uniqueness, because even if two people share the same supposed flaw, the way it expresses in them both will be different. That’s kind of beautiful, isn’t it?
the gods wait to delight
in you.

The universe – the world – your life – is yours… do whatever it is that makes you delighted!

Form – the vaguely technical stuff
Division and order
One lovely long stanza.

Positive, upbeat, encouraging. I feel like I could run a (virtual) marathon!

Suggested rhyme scheme
Free verse. Woo!!!

Similes and metaphors
Personification of life?

Author’s relationship with their subject
Well they’re like the champion of the cause, aren’t they? They’re saying, you can be all you want to be, your life is glorious, you can do whatever you aspire to do, now go get it.

Other points of view (ideas from other sources)
It’s all about having a positive outlook, and whilst life does inevitably come to an end does not mean we should end it before its time – literally or figuratively – life is for the living. There’s a lot of play off between dark and light which I guess can be used both as the contrast between positive and negative, and life and death.

Signing off
Sometimes, when darkness descends, it’s very hard to remember that your life really is your life to live. And whilst yes, it’s yours to do what you want with, include take it for granted, you still get to choose and really, if you choose well, your life could be glorious. Which is all well and good when you’re in one of those moods or periods of your life when you can’t see the way back out and believe me, oh please believe me when I say I spend far too many days in the dark myself. But there is hope out there. And if that hope has to come in the form of you, or an amazing friend, or an incredible book that lifts you up, you perhaps can use whatever of these tools that is available to boost yourself.

Life is hard, so bloody, bloody hard, sometimes it feels all like too much effort and too strenuous to deal with. But, and I’m having a good mood, it’s all got to be worth it, yes? It has got to be. There’s a point to us being here even if it is temporary.

Life is for living. Your life is your life. So live it, as big as you can.

Oh, and the laughing? Why’s the heart laughing? Because it’s happy. And it can.


Charles Bukowski


Poetry Foundation

When I read this I think of the song… because it had to be done: It’s My Life


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