Bukowski and Roll the Dice

Bukowski wrote an inspiring poem on living called “Roll the Dice”. This poem recommends that we chase after what we are interested in wholeheartedly. As he says “If you are going to try, go all the way, otherwise, don’t even start.” There are clear indicators of what counts as going all the way in the poem, they are willing to sacrifice everything else that is in their life, including relationships, jobs, eating regularly, all in pursuit of their goal.  Yet, the title gives the poem a sense of inconsistency as the “roll” of “the Dice” indicates chance, something outside of our control.
It might be thought that Bukowski is capturing some platitudes about life that we could all do with reminding ourselves of. We need to have a passionate conviction in our goals, if we are to have the best chance of success, and yet we cannot guarantee that success. 
If the poem gave more nuanced advice, like follow your dreams, and do so with passion, but keep taking a check on reality, to make sure the goals are realisable, then it would lose some of its bite and power. In the field of writing there are many wannabe authors out there who are intent on following their dream, and good luck to them, but what about the reality of their likliehood of success. Are they able to earn a living from this way of life, are they prepared to write and carry on writing even if few read their work, or recognise them? What is the goal of writing? Is it fame and recognition by others or is the enjoyment of writing by itself sufficient motivation? 
                                                                   Roll the Dice
if you’re going to try, go all the
otherwise, don’t even start.

if you’re going to try, go all the
this could mean losing girlfriends,
wives, relatives, jobs and
maybe your mind.

go all the way.
it could mean not eating for 3 or 4 days.
it could mean freezing on a
park bench.
it could mean jail,
it could mean derision,

isolation is the gift,
all the others are a test of your
endurance, of
how much you really want to
do it.
and you’ll do it
despite rejection and the worst odds
and it will be better than
anything else
you can imagine.

if you’re going to try,
go all the way.
there is no other feeling like
you will be alone with the gods
and the nights will flame with

do it, do it, do it.
do it.

all the way
all the way.

you will ride life straight to
perfect laughter, its
the only good fight
there is.


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This entry was posted in Bukowski, Bukowski and Life, Bukowski Roll the Dice, Ways of living. Bookmark the permalink.

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