I think I am going to try something new around here. One of my favorite things to do, especially on a beautiful morning like this one, when the sun is pouring in the windows and there’s a bite of Autumn in the air, is to read some poetry. This morning I thought: why not share?
The following is a poem that took awhile to grow on me. I didn’t like it the first couple of times I read it–maybe the words were too fast, tumbling all over each other. Or, more likely, the images in this poem swing from raw pain to raw pain. But the more I read the more I could see the point of the poet: that there is joy in all of life, and that the triumph of the human spirit, or the recognition of our Creator in the very mundane moments of life, these are precious. There’s joy somewhere, always, just like there’s pain everywhere we look. Consider Gilbert’s words: “We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world. To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.”
Definitely worth considering this Saturday morning, don’t you think?
A Brief for the Defense
Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would notbe made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.