On "The Art of Failing" Essay

Sep 22, 2023··[literature]

How does Robert DiYanni's "The Art of Failing" poem expresses the need for failing to improve?

Robert DiYanni’s poem titled “The Art of Failing” uses repetition of expressions to assert the idea of failing in a way that contradicts conventional thoughts, suggesting that failing is actually something one should desire and actively pursue. The poem consists of a total of 19 lines, with three-line stanzas except for the last one.

The main message the poem tries to convey to the reader is that failing or not succeeding is actually something that one should desire, which is contrary to what one might think. With the line “Just draft your project with the aim to fail,” DiYanni suggests that when a person wants to do something and succeed, the draft or the first attempt that person creates is actually meant to fail, and it is only through failure that one can progress. Furthermore, the sole purpose of the drafts that one makes when undertaking a project is to improve upon the first draft in subsequent ones. Therefore, the only goal when creating the drafts, or, in other words, attempts, of the projects that one undertakes should be to fail so that a step is taken towards real success. In a sense, these are not limited to work-oriented projects; the same can be said for art. Whether one is writing a poem, a novel, or a story, drafts must be created. Even if not on paper, the artist continually drafts in their mind and thoughts.

As aforementioned, DiYanni emphasizes the importance of failing throughout the poem. Furthermore, as he conveys this to the reader, he uses progressive ideas in the poem. The line in the second stanza, “Success is fine, but no match for failing well,” indicates that despite the positive nature of the conventional ideas of success, failure cannot compete with it. The expression in the fifth stanza, “Failure, not success, is what you’re after,” states that failure is what one should pursue and suggests that success is only a minor effect. Throughout the poem, DiYanni gradually asserts that failing is much better than succeeding, to the point of saying “not success, is what you’re after” and implying that success is not necessary in the grand scheme of things.

DiYanni refers to Samuel Beckett in the poem with the line, “So Samuel Beckett says about his art.” Particularly throughout his life, Beckett engaged in artistic endeavors, even though his initial works did not bring him the recognition he expected. He did not stop and continued to write, ultimately establishing himself as a significant writer in the literary world. The line in DiYanni’s poem especially refers to “Worstward Ho,” Beckett’s essay, where he talks about failure’s place in his life and his works. In it, he warns the reader about it and advocates the necessity of failing. Interestingly, as a whole, Beckett’s essay has little to do with positivity, motivation, or progress, much like his tragicomic life, and he states that everyone is in the “dim void” like him.

Throughout the poem, DiYanni repeats many expressions and lines to convey the idea that failure is actually an important thing. In particular, the recurrence of the line “The art of failing isn’t hard to master” at the end of most stanzas and a similar statement “Fail better, fail faster, and be smart” appearing in various places highlight the importance of the message DiYanni is trying to convey to the reader and emphasize that it should be put into most aspects of one’s life.

It should be noted that the word choices of “fail,” “failing,” and “failure” do not allow the poem to fully convey the idea that one should totally, irreversibly fail and flop. In detail, DiYanni does not use expressions such as “screw up,” “flop,” or “blunder,” which might be explained by the fact that those words are not artistic enough, where “fail” has more of a flow and allows DiYanni to use more artistic expressions. Ultimately, this poem by Robert DiYanni states that one can only succeed when they fail, which questions the traditional views of failure and success, suggesting that it is only possible to take a step toward success by failing.

The Art of Failing (Robert DiYanni)

The art of failing isn’t hard to master.
Just draft your project with the aim to fail.
Then fail better and fail faster. Skirt disaster.

Success is fine, but no match for failing well.
Fail better, fail faster, and be smart.
The art of failing isn’t hard to master.

So Samuel Beckett says about his art.
Perfection eludes us at every turn.
So fail better and smarter to forestall disaster.

You won’t get anything right from the start.
Don’t try. Forgive yourself; make a mess.
Avoid duress. Fail smarter to prevent disaster.

Failure, not success, is what you’re after.
That’s where the surprises lurk—the discoveries.
The art of failing isn’t hard to master.

Court failure. Don’t fear its painful pleasure.
Follow missteps—embrace them, take their measure.
The art of failing you can learn to master.
Fail better, smarter, faster. Avert disaster.

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