You Learn

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by Anonymous author. Modified by Veronica A. Shoffstall.

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises,

And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,

And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn...
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure

That you really are strong

And you really do have worth...

And you learn and learn...

With every good-bye you learn.


Anonymous user #1

17 months ago
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If anyone who loves poetry would really investigate the origin of the poem After Awhile You Learn, you would learn that VS did not copywrite it in 1971, but in the early 1990's (check with Library of Congress), that it was not a bound poem in her yearbook, The Ivy, from a Utica NY college, but was a late loose leaf copy inserted to cover her tracks (ask the alumni personnel &/or college staff), was printed in Ann Landers column who put out a call for its author to step forward before Veronica Shoffstall answered the call (ask the paper who printed AL column), that it was published under author anonymous in the second edition of Chicken Soup For Your Soul in its original version (find it and check this out for yourself), and that it was written by a 17 yo in the winter of 1984-85 by a young woman who never intended it to be published, or even shared with others, aside from the one man she wrote it about. There is a personal reason for every line, but the reasons are not what the professor who thinks he knows the author's purpose says it means (How can any person know the thoughts of another?). It should say "the grace of an ADULT", not the grace of a "woman", among other changes VS made - although the author likes this change. This poem's incredible journey shows me that you can never believe what you read, just because it is written. Investigate, follow the leads, check the facts, find TRUTH for yourself. On a positive note, the author would like to thank VS for getting it out there to help so many people find hope. If it were not for her, it would still be a once read, hand written poem in a box of other poems and personal items in the closet of the now 53 yo woman. The author is not about credit, fame or profit, only truth. The author forgives VS and all those who are too lazy to learn truth for themselves, but are content to believe lies. The author knows that truth will prevail, if not in this life, in the next.

After awhile you learn that you've learned nothing, that people steal, that truth is relative to most, that you must never believe what you see, that signs deceive and that you are in the company of people who do not know love, are not real, and who fail to be deliberate. But you learn to forgive, that you really do not care, and that life will sort itself out despite your best efforts. Author Anonymous

Anonymous user #2

16 months ago
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Jorge Luis Borges


3 months ago
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This poem was in a book that my grandmother owned with many other poems by the same author I am trying right now to find either the book or the author's name but the two listed that seem to get credit are not the original authors. The original author that wrote this has many other great works I'm now 37 years old and I have read these for the first time when I was maybe seven. I am so happy that somebody else realize that this was not the original author thank you!


3 months ago
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Merrit Malloy. This is the Author, as far as i know, of the collection of amazing poems i have always cherished. I remember holding the book in my hand when i was younger.
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