Published on Academy of American Poets (

In Vain

The stars in the sky
In vain
The tragedy of Hamlet
   In vain
The key in the lock
      In vain
The sleeping mother
      In vain
The lamp in the corner
         In vain
The lamp in the corner unlit
            In vain
Abraham Lincoln
                        In vain
The Aztec empire
                           In vain
The writing hand: in vain
(The shoetrees in the shoes
         In vain
The windowshade string upon
            the hand bible
   In vain—
   The glitter of the greenglass
In vain
The bear in the woods
         In vain
The Life of Buddha
         In vain)


From Book of Sketches. Penguin Books, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc, 2006.


Jack Kerouac

Born in 1922, the poet and novelist Jack Kerouac is said to have coined the term "Beat Generation," describing the down-and-out status of himself and his peers during the post-war years.

Date Published: 2006-01-01

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