New Year, New Tattoo

I recently came across a very unusual site devoted to literary tattoos. The idea being that if you love a certain poem, or passage of a novel, or story or whatever, you might have it tattooed onto your body.

Here are some examples from

1. The complete Sharon Olds poem, “I Go Back to May 1937″:

Sharon Olds

Sharon Olds

2. A simple alphabet adorns a librarian’s arm:



3. Someone was so keen on T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” that they had a few lines put on their back:

Prufrock 1

Prufrock 1

4. And that same poem inspires another tattooee:

Prufrock 2

Prufrock 2

5. Sylvia Plath’s “Tulips”


Tulips - Sylvia Plath

So what would I have tattooed on myself if I had to choose a few lines of poetry? It didn’t take me long to decide. It would have to be from Alan Ginsberg’s “America”:

My mind is made up there’s going to be trouble.

I rushed into Hindley Street today, New Year’s Eve (after spending a few hours in the gym, “getting ripped”), and managed to have it done at “Tattoo You”:

My Mind is Made Up

My Mind is Made Up

What would your literary tattoo be?

9 thoughts on “New Year, New Tattoo

  1. Either:

    “Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”
    from WB Yeats’ “Cloths of Heaven”, or

    “Squander the day, but save the soul”
    from Mary Oliver’s “The Lark”

    Probably the latter if I have to have it tattooed.

  2. I think the first lines of one of my own poems would be good to have placed upon my person – ‘Suicide has only called me once…’

    That line is a reminder that I was called and chose not to answer the call, thus indicating I previously considered and then cast off the idea of the final end.

    A good thing indeed to remember. With suicide, there are no second chances.

    • Even I might be tempted by a temporary tattoo. Presumably a lot of work to do a text one on though. A bit like having a footballer’s name on your shirt – a lot cheaper if your favourite player is called “Sa” than if its “Van Nistelrooy”.

  3. Been hitting the steroids I see, Mike!

    In the event that I got a tattoo, I’d have a line from the Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, “Pied Beauty” viz. “fresh fire-coal, chestnut-falls, finches’ wings”, maybe around my wrist. There’s no message in it except to admire the beauty of creation.

    • No steroids, I’m all natural skin and bone! I must find my family connection to Gerard Manley. The English teacher at school used to call me Gerard Manley, not because I was any good at poetry (I wasn’t), it was his idea of humour (unappreciated by me).

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