Friday, October 23, 2009

A Stubborn Gladness

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 not
be 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 cafes 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.

from Refusing Heaven by Jack Gilbert


  1. "To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil."

    I like this idea.

  2. Thanks for sharing this, love it.

  3. Oh my god. That is too beautiful and something I desperately need to be reminded of. Thank-you for finding, for posting that.

  4. Good morning hon..what a beautiful way to start my day! Thank you hon!! It's all about staying present!! Hope things are well with you hon!! Hugs, Sarah

  5. I love this piece. It's true, and it's beautifully stated. Thank you for posting it for all of us. I feel like we just had our morning coffee together!

  6. It's like a big "up yours" to the (d)evil when we laugh in spite of it all

  7. I am so glad the chili was a hit!!! It is always wonderful when we find a recipe that works. Well, I am too help my son with his science project. Make a light bulb light by attaching it to copper pennies and salt soaked paper towels.

  8. If I said holy shit, would you take it the wrong way? This piece leaves me speechless, and is exactly what I needed to hear on a particularly sad, tiring day, and to share with friends who are having their own particularly sad days, as we lean on each other for comfort. This post is a gift. Thank you.

  9. Being able to put words together like that is a real gift. Wow.

  10. thank you for this. thank you!!!!!
    " we must admit there will be music despite everything " is like a subconscious mantra of my life.

  11. Music despite everything--one of my favorite truths, ever.



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