The Necessity of Failure

I’d like to say that the poem is free verse while still maintain some sort of structure. There are 11 stanzas, 3 lines throughout but in one paragraph there is 5 lines. I don’t notice any sort of rhythm or rhyme going on throughout the poem.

I think given the title of the poem; it is clear what it talks about. Ricketts comes from a positive standpoint about failure, repeatedly using literary concepts to emphasise on the importance of failure. I think he is trying to encourage the idea of failure being something that has to happen regardless, or that it is okay. He uses similes and rhetorical questions to further push his point. This gets the reader thinking and emphasizes on the idea that the poet is trying to get across. Again, we see the relationship between the character and text being developed.

An example of similes in the poem is “like a loose tooth, you can jiggle it any time you like;” and “failure is like having children”. Rickett compares this idea of failure to a loose tooth and children, why though? I think with failure, it is always going to be there, can’t avoid it. In the next stanza, he compares failure to children. If we read further, he adds “you find out stuff about yourself you’d never known nor dared to guess”. This process of failure has brought out traits you never knew you had. I think you also build resilience in the process, to keep pushing forward no matter what. Therefore, it prepares you to overcome situations that you may face further down the line.

It’s funny because it’s almost as if the poet is saying that it’s boring to succeed, you get the job done then what next? As for failure, it’s like a journey, it has its ups and downs, and you get a thrill out of it. Further into the poem, he goes on to describe the emotions one feels when they fail. You immediately can resonate with the poem because you know these feelings and you’ve experienced these feelings. “Any flop will reward you with guilt, remorse, embarrassment and shame you can endlessly replay, retaste”. Every time you fail, these emotions come back, its like a cycle. Fail again and you feel these emotions all over again.

In third to last stanza of the poem, he says “even quite a tiny failure can last you a lifetime;” this links to the theme of identity. When you fail, it is our nature to feel as if this failure is apart of us, apart of who we are. However, when we let failure define us, we are not able to move forward, and we let it hold us back. It can be the littlest thing, but it will cause a huge impact on us. I have failed so many times in life, both big or small, and it has either made me stronger or weaker. But it is up to us whether we are going to let it define us or are we going to keep moving forward. Fall down seven times, get back up eight. It reminds me of when I was fresh out of high school, making the transition into university. I didn’t get my University entrance and I felt like right then and there I had failed (well clearly), not only myself but my family. I am the first of my family to go university, my brothers are high school dropouts. But I tried to not dwell on it and look for resolutions or ways to fix this problem. I did my research and found there were programmes such as UniPrep. In the end, things worked out. Now I’m in my last year of my degree and I cannot wait to finish! Had I just given up at that point and went on to work maybe, I would not be where I am now. Which is another aspect that the poet explores, you come to a point where you see how all of that led to all of this. In the end it all makes sense, everything aligns.  

 What I take away from this is that we have to accept the fact that failure is going to happen regardless, and we have to be okay with that. When we fail, while it may seem like the end of the world, we have to get ourselves back up and keeping going. In the end when you do succeed, big or small, failures were apart of that journey and without it, you could not have possibly made it to where you are.


Kapiti Coast and Independent. (2018). Poem of the Week: Harry Ricketts. Retrieved March 27, 2019, from


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