Lloyd Schwartz

In Purgatory
August 21, 2020 Schwartz Lloyd

Not easy.

Nothing came easy.

Nothing ever came easy.

Everything was hard.

Too hard.

Harder than it had to be.


Did everything have to be so hard?

Harder than it had to be?

So much harder?


Did anything ever come easy?


Can I remember anything—anything easier?


Could anyone have wanted it that way?

Who could have wanted it that way?

Look in the mirror.

Did I want it that way?

Did I want everything to be hard?

Harder than it had to be?

Who would want anything to be hard?

Who would want everything to be hard?

Harder than it had to be.

Look in the mirror.


There’s no explanation.

Nothing comes easy.

Harder than it has to be.


Lloyd Schwartz is the Frederick S. Troy Professor of English Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Boston and the poet laureate of Somerville, Massachusetts, for which he has just been awarded a 2021 Academy of American Poets Poet Laureate fellowship. His poems have been selected for the Pushcart Prize, The Best American Poetry, and The Best of the Best American Poetry. In 2019, he was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in poetry. A noted editor of the works of Elizabeth Bishop, he is also the longtime classical music critic for NPR’s Fresh Air and was the classical music editor of The Boston Phoenix, for which he was awarded the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for criticism. His latest book is Who’s on First? New and Selected Poems (University of Chicago Press).