Brain Pickings Icon
Brain Pickings

Tom Waits Reads “The Laughing Heart” by Charles Bukowski

On finding light in darkness, knowing chances and the ownership of life.

Tom Waits Reads “The Laughing Heart” by Charles Bukowski

It is a rare gift when a great artist brings a great poem to life. Tom Waits could read anything and sink it into the depths of being while elevating it to the transcendent, but when he takes on something already exception, the result is pure magic.

Here is a 2008 recording of Waits reading “The Laughing Heart” by Charles Bukowski (August 16, 1920–March 9, 1994), found in his 2002 collection of poems and stories, Betting on the Muse (public library).

THE LAUGHING HEART
by Charles Bukowski

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

For more great artists bringing great poets to life, see Esperanza Spalding singing William Blake, America Ferrera reading Denise Levertov, John Cameron Mitchell reading Walt Whitman, Meryl Streep reading Sylvia Plath, Regina Spektor reading Mark Strand, and Amanda Palmer reading Wisława Szymborska.


Published December 30, 2009

https://www.brainpickings.org/2009/12/30/tom-waits-reads-bukowski/

BP

www.brainpickings.org

BP

PRINT ARTICLE

Filed Under

View Full Site

Brain Pickings participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. In more human terms, this means that whenever you buy a book on Amazon from a link on here, I get a small percentage of its price. That helps support Brain Pickings by offsetting a fraction of what it takes to maintain the site, and is very much appreciated