Poetry Friday: Finding happiness…

 
Poetry Friday is hosted by Marjorie at Paper Tigers
Yesterday, I was talking to a young person who was filled with unhappiness and felt that it would always be this way.  As we talked, it occurred to me that even when in the deepest grief, we can find a sight or sound or word that (even briefly) lifts the spirit.  Of course, this young person would have none of it…perhaps I should have just passed along this  poem:
 
Happiness

By Jane Kenyon

There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basketmaker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
                     It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.
Jane Kenyon
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7 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Finding happiness…

  1. All beautiful, all exactly right. I love the first stanza most, perhaps the metaphor touches me. I'm sorry for your student's sadness (despair). Perhaps she is just at a low point & cannot abide anything that might be a glimmer!

  2. Tara, Thanks for this post. Jane Kenyon is one of my favorite female posts, her death was a great loss to the poetry community. You've sent me running to find my copy of 100 White Daffodils. I too love the repetition of "It comes to" at the end of the poem and see how this could be used as an outline for an exercise with students. Especially like the "rain on the open ocean" that struck a chord.

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