"Happiness" seems such a benign word. Like "nice."
"Happiness is a nice word," she said nicely.
If you happened upon a poem called Happiness you might be tempted to happen quickly by, for its bland title would deceive you.
You would not guess that crouching beneath the bland banner is a powerful poem by Jane Kenyon, waiting to spring on you.
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.
(Read the rest here. It gets even better and is worth your click.)
A happy coincidence: I was feeling Keatsian last night, but not quite Keatsian. I couldn't think of or find anything that felt quite right to me. I didn't want to post about Keats, either. Though I must confess to being regularly tempted to post this little bit, by J.D. Salinger, which I read years ago:
Please put your scarf on.
But, no, I wasn't feeling that silly last night. I felt, more accurately, grateful that although happiness is often ephemeral, there is a kind of happiness that is underlying, steadfast, and is the only thing that sustains me when the outer coatings of happiness chip off and fall away. There's a happiness (though, like the poem, that word is deceptively benign for the condition of which I speak) found in my faith that cannot be undercut and sometimes can't be defined. It's the stuff that remains even when weariness has overtaken me.
But, back to John. I was randomly (and rather unhappily) searching at The Poetry Foundation for something about autumn ... or education ... or oh, arrghh, I didn't know what. I thought, "I should just go to bed." I was about to, when I decided to click on this bland little title, "Happiness." And when I read more about Jane Kenyon (see her bio page here) I saw this:
Indeed, Kenyon's work has often been compared with that of English Romantic poet John Keats; Roberts dubbed her a "Keatsian poet" and noted that, "like Keats, she attempts to redeem morbidity with a peculiar kind of gusto, one which seeks a quiet annihilation of self-identity through identification with benign things."I bookmarked the page and went happily to bed, knowing exactly the thing, the poem and the person about which I'd post this morning. Anyone who "attempts to redeem morbidity with a peculiar kind of gusto, one which seeks a quiet annihilation of self-identity through identification with benign things,'" is someone I will seek out with a peculiar kind of gusto.
Wishing you a happy sort of Poetry Friday.
Jennie has the round up this week at Biblio File and you can read more about Poetry Friday here.