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What is joy?   Well, it's not happiness, it's not pleasure.  C.S. Lewis was close to Rilke when he called it, "unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction."  He called it a "particular kind of unhappiness or grief.....but the kind we want."  He explains that as a boy, he came across these lines:

"I heard a voice that cried,
Balder the beautiful
Is dead, is dead---"

"I knew nothing about Balder, but instantly I was uplifted into huge regions of northern sky, I desired with almost sickening intensity something never to be described . . . and then, as in other examples, found myself at the very same moment already falling out of that desire and wishing I were back in it."

I suspect everyone has examples like that. It was something like that when I was a boy and found myself sitting alone behind my uncle's white garage in wet new spring grass - a sensation of bliss - still one of my sweetest memories.  It was like that for me when I first read Rilke's lines:

"And yet deep down within me
I feel that I keep
each of the songs He's seeking

With quivering beard, unspeaking,
He longs to be regaining
His self from His melodies

I come up to His knees:
and back into Him are raining
all of those songs of His."

Joy is the fleeting prehension but never possession of God's love or truth or beauty. It isn't everything, not the end.  It cannot be pursued the way we might pursue a career, a skill, or money.  But it can come to anyone. And it is sometimes found in poetry.  It is a divine spark that flies from the eternal Cosmic Dance.

Suddenly, what I had only dimly perceived became clear to me when I read: The Book of Hours, by Rainer Maria Rilke, followed by his Duino Elegies.  It was then that I felt I had discovered the joy of poetry.

The poems I like are clearly expressive, not abstract although they may indeed be metaphorical; easy to read, easy to memorize. I agree with my poet friend, Dave McCartney (see link here.)

Recent Changes & Additions:
A new Value Note:

Respect For Truth

Robert E. Lee

St. Patrick's Day




The Royalty of Marriage


Love of Poetry .net