Ada Limon’s Breathtaking Reading of “Instructions for Not Giving Up”

On the tail end of World Poetry Day, we wondered what one poem we could give to our readers that shows how far poetry reaches into our lives and how essential it is. It came to us instantly: Ada Limón‘ reading aloud her poem, Instructions for Not Giving Up.

Perfection on the second day of spring.


More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out

of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s

almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving

their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate

sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees

that really gets to me.When all the shock of white

and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave

the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,

the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin

growing over whatever winter did to us, a return

to the strange idea of continuous living despite

the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,

I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf

unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.


Limón writes frequently for the New Yorker (more poems here) and has published several books of poetry; her latest, Bright Dead Things, was a Finalist for the National Book Award.

One Response to Ada Limon’s Breathtaking Reading of “Instructions for Not Giving Up”

  1. gallagher 03.22.2019 at 10:14am #

    “I’ll take it all.”

    Now that’s a manifesto to live by!

    Thanks Sally.
    ,…you keep doin’ it… 🙃

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