Carver, Raymond

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: Feb-22-1999
  • Last revised: Aug-22-2006


Gravy is an unvarnished statement of gratitude. The poet is grateful to be alive "these last ten years . . . / sober, working, loving and / being loved by a good woman." Eleven years earlier, he had been told that he would die soon, if he didn’t quit drinking. He quit, met a woman, fell in love. "After that it was all gravy." When he was told that cancer was "building up inside his head," he told his friends not to weep for him. "I’m a lucky man."


Carver’s Collected Poems (All of Us) includes as an Appendix a prose piece by his wife, Tess Gallagher, originally written as an introduction to his last book of poems, A New Path to the Waterfall (1989). In this essay Gallagher discusses Carver’s lung cancer and the final poems that relate to his illness, among which are "Gravy" and 0023 (see annotation). "Gravy" is simple, honest, and utterly non-poetic. Yet, the poem is an almost overwhelming expression of gratitude, and a powerful affirmation of the human spirit.


A 15-line poem.

Primary Source

All of Us: The Collected Poems



Place Published

New York