Monday, August 8, 2011

Heading for the Hills

Giancarlo Giannini in Lina Wertmuller's Seven Beauties

When things get too crazy, negative and out of control, when I get too crazy, negative and out of control, consumed by anxiety and the S&P credit downgrade, the back and forth of Krugman et all, the impending disaster, the relentlessness of bad news, the baggage, the Tea Baggers, Tea Partiers, the greed, the comparisons to Jonathan Swift's time, the weird windfalls that plug up holes and then slowly leak and drain, I think of Candide and his silly little garden (Il faut cultiver notre jardin) or Pasqualino in Seven Beauties, who survives to live -- and then I head for the hills with poetry.

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. And that made me cry with its fierce truth.

  2. Just what I needed this morning. Thank you my friend.

  3. If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
    we lessen the importance of their deprivation.

    Love that line.

  4. Hello! I am in LA, and it's my first time :) I am thinking of you, here, almost within my reach.

  5. Heading to the hills with poetry is the best survival tactic I know of.

  6. Beautiful, Elizabeth. Thank you for posting it. I go where Ms. Moon directs me. I cannot help myself.



  7. What SB said.

    Thank you for this Elizabeth.



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