you want a social life with friends

this poem got stuck in my head today. i used to have a copy of it sharpied on my refrigerator. also, i have it memorized and was known to recite it (drunk) at bars, back in the day.

you want a social life with friends

kenneth koch

You want a social life, with friends,
A passionate love life and as well
To work hard every day. What’s true
Is of these three you may have two
And two can pay you dividends
But never may have three.

There isn’t time enough, my friends–
Though dawn begins, yet midnight ends–
To find the time to have love, work, and friends.
Michelangelo had feeling
For Vittoria and the Ceiling
But did he go to parties at day’s end?

Homer nightly went to banquets
Wrote all day but had no lockets
Bright with pictures of his Girl.
I know one who loves and parties
And has done so since his thirties
But writes hardly anything at all.

i’ve always disagreed with this. why not have it all? love? work? friends? recently i’ve felt the balancing act weigh more towards ‘two can pay you dividends,’ though. but which two? work + love? work + friends? and why is it that the love + friends combination always seems like the weakest one?

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