Header PostFeaturedImage 01

Demand It Courageously by Julia Hartwig


She’s a marvel, my love is, is how a letter ends. This is how a stranger tells me about lives unfurling, and of which I have no part of but am a witness to all the same.

I think it is incredibly brave and endearing, making room for wonderment.

It was difficult to get up today. It took hours. What are you if not some wounded animal, I think.

But to be thankful nevertheless. To be grateful for things that arrange themselves into your life precisely because there is room.

I have been, at some point, been astonished by someone’s being. I wonder now if anyone, at some point, has been amazed that I exist.

But shouldn’t that have been: what a marvel that I exist!

It is exactly what you think it is, I whisper to myself, birds fluttering about inside my chest.

Demand It Courageously
Julia Hartwig
Translated by John and Bogdana Carpenter

    Make some room for yourself, human animal.
    Even a dog jostles about on his master’s lap to
improve his position. And when he needs space he
runs forward, without paying attention to commands
or calls.
    If you didn’t manage to receive freedom as a gift,
demand it as courageously as bread and meat.
    Make some room for yourself, human pride and
    The Czech writer Hrabal said:
    I have as much freedom as I take.

[expand title=”Endnotes” tag=”h6″ expanded=”true”]

This poem appeared in In Praise of the Unfinished by Julia Hartwig, published by Knopf, 2008. Shared here with profound gratitude.

Read more works by Julia HartwigFind books by this poet • Or view my library 

Explore poems in pursuit of: being humancourage and what it takesthe self • Or browse the index


[expand title=”Dear Reader” tag=”h6″]

This little corner of the world is my passion project since 2005. My commitment is that it will always remain free to all. If this place holds meaning for you, would you consider supporting it? This can be in the form of a cup of coffee (+ other ways).

Note that Read A Little Poetry may receive a small commission if you make a purchase through any links on this site. It is at no additional cost to you and helps in the upkeep of this space.

Thank you for being here all these years—and into the future—as I hold poets to the light.


Comments (3)

  • billy

    Cummings says it all in one line……
    “You are whatever a moon has always meant, and whatever a sun will always sing is you”……and

    You Learn
    by Jorge Luis Borges

    After a while you learn
    The subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul
    That love doesn’t mean leaning
    And that company doesn’t always mean security
    You begin to learn that kisses are not contracts
    And gifts are not promises
    You accept your defeats with your head held high and your eyes ahead
    With the grace of a woman , and not the grief of a child
    You learn to build your roads on today
    Because tomorrow’s ground is uncertain and has a habit of falling away
    After a while you learn
    That even sunshine burns if you get too much
    You learn it doesn’t matter how much you do care, some people don’t care at all
    And you accept no matter how good a person is, they will hurt you once in a while
    And you need to forgive them for that
    You learn that talking can relieve emotional pain
    You discover it takes several years to build a relationship based on confidence
    And just a few seconds to destroy it
    And you can do something in an instant, that you will regret for the rest of your life
    After a while
    You will learn that true friendships continue to grow even from miles away
    And that what matters isn’t what you have in your life, but who you have in your life
    And that good friends are the family who allow us to choose
    So plant your own garden, and decorate your own soul
    Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers
    You learn that we don’t have to switch our friends, if we understand that friends can also change
    You realise that you are your best friend
    And can do anything, or nothing
    And have good moments together

    You learn you really can endure
    You are strong and have worth

    After a while you learn, and you learn…
    With every goodbye…

    You learn…

  • Briana

    “And this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart…”

    You are a marvel. An evolution of the mystery and magic in this unfolding universe. I’m so grateful for you, for this. Peace.

  • Erin

    ‘To be grateful for things that arrange themselves into your life precisely because there is room.’–i like this.
    and the poem. the poem is perfect for tonight. (thank you.)


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.