Poetry

Alice Walker – Be Nobody’s Darling

“Take the contradictions
Of your life
And wrap around
You like a shawl”

– Alice Walker


Alice Walker is a writer, poet, activist and student of Tibetan Buddhism. Best known for her novel, The Color Purple, she also has a prodigious output of poetry, including the book Revolutionary Petunias from which this poem, Be Nobody’s Darling, is taken. In an echo of the defiance of Wendell Berry’s Do Not Be Ashamed, Walker paints the image of an outcast to underline the importance of tenaciousness and standing one’s ground in the midst of madness. She recommends ‘a merry gathering’ for the thousands who perished for ‘brave hurt words/They said’ and that we be ‘qualified’ to live among those dead.


 

Be Nobody’s Darling

Be nobody’s darling;
Be an outcast.
Take the contradictions
Of your life
And wrap around
You like a shawl,
To parry stones
To keep you warm.

Watch the people succumb
To madness
With ample cheer;
Let them look askance at you
And you askance reply.

Be an outcast;
Be pleased to walk alone
(Uncool)
Or line the crowded
River beds
With other impetuous
Fools.

Make a merry gathering
On the bank
Where thousands perished
For brave hurt words
They said.

But be nobody’s darling;
Be an outcast.
Qualified to live
Among your dead.

 

Alice Walker 

From: Revolutionary Petunias and Other Poems

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