Alden Nowlan, poet, dramatist, novelist (born 25 January 1933 in Stanley, NS; died 27 June 1983 in Fredericton, NB). Winner of the Governor General’s Award for English Poetry in 1967 and recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 1978, Alden Nowlan is regarded as one of the most original voices of his generation. (The Canadian Encyclopedia)
This is one of my favorite poems of all time.
* * * * *
He Attempts to Love His Neighbours
My neighbours do not wish to be loved.
They have made it clear that they prefer to go peacefully
about their business and want me to do the same.
This ought not to surprise me as it does;
I ought to know by now that most people have a hundred things
they would rather do than have me love them.
There is television, for instance; the truth is that almost everybody,
given the choice between being loved and watching TV,
would choose the latter. Love interrupts dinner,
interferes with mowing the lawn, washing the car,
or walking the dog. Love is a telephone ringing or a doorbell
waking you moments after you’ve finally succeeded in getting to sleep.
So we must be careful, those of us who were born with
the wrong number of fingers or the gift
of loving; we must do our best to behave
like normal members of society and not make nuisances
of ourselves; otherwise it could go hard with us.
It is better to bite back your tears, swallow your laughter,
and learn to fake the mildly self-deprecating titter
favoured by the bourgeoisie
than to be left entirely alone, as you will be,
if your disconformity embarrasses
your neighbours; I wish I didn’t keep forgetting that.