Charles Bukowski’s Gravestone Epitaph ‘Don’t Try’

Many people have wondered what the gravestone epitaph of the great American counter-culture poet and novelist Charles Bukowski means – ‘Don’t Try.’  I was baffled by this too until I came across this illuminating quote from Bukowski which should substantiate his intended meaning of ‘Don’t Try’:

Somebody asked me: “What do you do? How do you write, create?” You don’t, I told them. You don’t try. That’s very important: not to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It’s like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks, you make a pet out of it.
Charles Bukowski
Source: The web site

This quote in conjunction with his poemAll the Way‘ poem reinforces the message. Here is an excerpt:

If you’re going to try, go all the way.
Otherwise, don’t even start…..
DO IT. DO IT. DO IT. All the way

Below is video and audio of the poem directed, filmed and edited by Willem Martinot:

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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4 comments on “Charles Bukowski’s Gravestone Epitaph ‘Don’t Try’
  1. Wendy says:

    My immediate thought was that ‘ Don’t try’ was the beginning that ended with ‘just do’! Great thought on how to just get on with writing, or really anything else creative in life. Never heard of this writer before *blush*, but I will check him out now.

    • Hi Wendy. Great to get your comment. I was thinking more along the lines of existentialism such as ‘just be’ or ‘to be’ rather than try to do according to what labels society puts onto things and us. He was one of the more eccentric, but brazened counter-culture writers from the 1960’s onwards. He always gives me a good chuckle.

  2. […] as Charles Bukowski gravestone says: “DON’T TRY”… Because if you try to do something, you’re actually not doing it… […]

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