Poem of the Week: Harry Ricketts

Distinguished New Zealand Poet

Harry Ricketts is a an internationally recognised academic, writer, poet and expert on war poetry.

He was the keynote speaker at the 2014 Kapiti Literary Festival and spoke on the wealth of verse that came out of World War One.

We are honoured to feature one of his own poems below. (Chosen by our poetry columnist, Gill Ward.)


The necessity of failure 

Why this obsession with success,

which brings so brief a glow?

Fading already: won; done it;


gone. Afterwards what then? What next?

With failure, there’s so much

more to savour, so much more to feel.


Like a loose tooth, you can jiggle

it any time you like;

the true friend you can never brush off.


Failure is like having children:

you find out stuff about yourself

you’d never known nor dared to guess.


And think of the variety.

There are many ways

to fail. Not just the smart disasters


like going off your head,

betraying those you love

or knowing blowing your own talent –


only a few of us can be

that chic. Don’t be choosey.

Any flop will reward you with guilt,

remorse embarrassment and shame

you can endlessly replay, retaste.


Even quite a tiny failure

can last you a lifetime;

that thing you said, that moment you missed,


will twist in time until you see

how it led to all that

and all of this. Some revelation.


So don’t begrudge your blunders,

screw-ups, A minor blues.

Nothing’s wasted failure makes sense.


Harry Ricketts


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