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Posts Tagged ‘Joy’

Today at lunch, one of my best writing buddies and I were talking about joy. Specifically, how to get more of it into lives that have become so busy, budgets that have become so tight, and families that have grown and changed and sometimes separated.

We talked about the little pleasures from the past, the moments when we’ve felt most at ease with our worlds and with ourselves. We mentioned floating on a raft in the Gulf of Mexico. Long walks with something corny on the iPod. Cooking up something wicked in the kitchen (this was my friend, not me…lol). Making silly things we aren’t even very good at, like Christmas ornaments, posters, ceramics, macrame.

And then I mentioned poetry.

She’s polite, but her eyes got wide. Poetry? I’m sorry. I know it sounds impossible. Isn’t poetry something you slave over in school? But I can’t help it. I’m a geek that way. My parents were both writers, and they both created beautiful poetry. They shared their favorite poems with my sister and me even before we could read. They quoted the greats when they wanted to give advice. “Ah, love, let us be true to one another…” “Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter…”

And we got hooked. I still find wisdom, beauty and consolation in the poems I love. They give me much the same feeling I get from a really good romance. Here’s what Percy Shelley said about poetry: “It strips the veil of familiarity from the world, and lays bare the naked and sleeping beauty…”

Isn’t that what we want from a book? Don’t we want a writer who can help us see our worlds through fresh eyes? Don’t we want to awake anew to the beauty that is a part of everything, but we’ve begun to take it for granted? Don’t we want to remember what that first rush of falling love feels like…that first coming together in wondrous intimacy?

Of course, I also want to make silly things and play with paints, like a preschooler. The picture at the beginning of this post is my beloved collection of hand-painted mugs–hand-painted by me, a woman who has absolutely zero artistic talent, at one of those do-it-yourself pottery places. I’ve made five so far, the first back in 2004. Each one has one of my favorite quotes on it. So far, I’ve got

“Margaret, are you grieving?” from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poignant “Spring and Fall”
“I’ll come to thee by moonlight,” from Alfred Noyes’ tragic ballad, “The Highwayman”
“I am half sick of shadows,” from Tennyson’s “Lady of Shalott”
“Yet we will make him run,” from Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress”
“The seven stars go squawking, like geese about the sky,” from Auden’s “As I Walked Out One Evening”

They look like a pre-schooler’s work, and yet I cherish every one. I remember the fun I had making them, with my friends, my sister, my daughter… And I remember each poem, and the joy it has brought me through the years. In fact, I think it’s time to make another, because every set of coffee mugs should have at least six, don’t you think?

Any suggestions for the next quote? Anyone out there a poetry geek, too? If you don’t have any poetry to share, I’d still love to hear where in this hectic world you still can find nuggets of joy. I just heard from my friend while I was writing this post, and she reports that she’s out in the pool, floating on a raft and refusing to let anything get her down. That makes me happy. Or, as Shakespeare would say, “But if the while I think on thee, dear friend, all losses are restored, and sorrows end.”

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