Poetry Friday: "So Much Happiness", Naomi Shihab Nye


Poetry Friday is hosted by Linda Baie @ Teacher Dance 


Ours was a happy class yesterday.  We read our 100 word spooky stories by flashlight, munched on not-really-good-for you goodies, danced around the classroom, and lounged in our comfy chairs.  It was Halloween, and my costumed kids were focused on  evening festivities – who would trick-or-treat with whom, where they would go,  how they would make the most of the evening.  We managed to get some work done, but even work looks different when you’re dressed like Big Bird, or Thing One (Thing Two is another classroom, alas).  Ours was a happy class, yesterday.  That is not to say that we are an unhappy class the rest of the non-Halloween school year, for we are definitely NOT an unhappy class.  But, yesterday,  sitting in my teacher chair,  I saw my kids being happy kids.  I saw it in the way they read their stories, in the the way they clapped for their classmates’ stories, in the way they munched and chatted, in the way they danced with abandon, in the way they sprawled out in their costumed glory and tackled the  study guide for the Social Studies test.  Ours was a happy class yesterday… and I, their teacher, loved watching their happiness.

So Much Happiness

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.
But happiness floats.
It doesn’t need you to hold it down.
It doesn’t need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records…..
Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known. 
Naomi Shihab Nye
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13 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: "So Much Happiness", Naomi Shihab Nye

  1. Tara, we had this kind of day, too. Celebrating, floating, happiness. I am so excited about Naomi Shihab Nye coming to our area NEXT week! My post is about the Festival of Words, anticipating her arrival, and my student winner. I raise my hands and the happiness flows!

  2. You could definitely write a poem about all the happiness of a Halloween class, Tara! I could feel the happiness from your description. "Everything has a life of its own,it too could wake up filled with possibilitiesof coffee cake and ripe peaches,and love even the floor which needs to be swept,the soiled linens and scratched records….." — maybe I should put this next to my computer!

  3. It is a spectacular day, isn't it? You've connected your classroom with the poem beautifully, Tara. I love the idea of 'happiness floating'! Naomi Nye touches me more than I can believe sometimes. Thank you!

  4. This post makes me so happy — it's contagious! Thanks for sharing your wonderful Halloween day — it was nice hearing about the sheer joy of kids being kids, learning, playing, eating, reading together, supporting each other. Perfect poem to capture the spirit of the day.

  5. Your description of your class made me happy, Tara. I was in my daughter's class for her Halloween party yesterday and the happiness was palatable as well. I love the poem you shared, especially the lines:"Since there is no place large enoughto contain so much happiness,you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of youinto everything you touch."Being their teacher at that moment in time you were able to share in their happiness, and they in yours. Lovely. =)

  6. I love this poem (which is new to me), especially the end: "You take no credit, as the night sky takes no creditfor the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,and in that way, be known. " Beautiful! Thanks!

  7. Your day yesterday sounded perfect! And you found the perfect poem to express that joy– thank you Naomi Shihab Nye. (She does have a way with words, doesn't she?) I hope that you are able to continue to hold and share that happiness as the year progresses.

  8. Thanks for sharing the happy day in your classroom, and this wonderful poem. How grand is this:"Since there is no place large enoughto contain so much happiness,you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of youinto everything you touch. You are not responsible."

  9. What a wonderful lead and a wonderful poem to go with it! I am smiling ear to ear, and even though you ARE…"You are not responsible.You take no credit, as the night sky takes no creditfor the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,and in that way, be known."

  10. You captured that Halloween joy so beautifully. As much as I hate dressing up, it is so, so, so fun watching kids having so much fun! I love Naomi Shihab Nye but had not heard this poem before. It's gorgeous. Like several others, I especially love the last few lines.

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