IN DEFENSE OF DELIGHT

A BRIEF FOR THE DEFENSE


by Jack Gilbert
 
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 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.
 
 
-Jack Gilbert
 
 
 
 


Replies

Livingjuicy
Livingjuicy

\"We must admit there will be music despite everything.\" To be able to even hear the music that is playing becomes such a significant part of the journey. I will need to read this several times to embrace all that is tucked away in the folds of this poem. This is one I have never come across before... thank you for posting it. Moving into delight reminds me of when a baby discovers their fingers and toes and giggles at their reflection. This is a fascinating piece. XO Joanie
deleted_user
deleted_user

delicious *delight* delivers deep decorum ... deanna
deleted_user
deleted_user

Echos our guilt for that first smile. I get it.
deleted_user
deleted_user

When all is darkness, I can only rest, on faith. You cannot learn it, buy it, or earn it. If I am stripped of everything, faith will still find a way to lead me on. Nature, music, laughter, love all fall under faith, to me, personally. Thanks for posting, food for thought. Hugs...Gaye
deleted_user
deleted_user

Off the top of my head, this reminds me of while in Morocco driving from Marrakech to Essouiwara through sad little towns... poor poor towns, everybody seemed to be missing an eye or a limb, grinding grinding poverty. All I could think is \"What can I DO?\" A frightening feeling for me, and sad, very sad. Then a look up at the night
sky with So many stars, so many stars. A different sky, almost a different hemisphere, and feeling awe.
lynette22
lynette22

Thank you for posting this and I love Joanie\'s reminder of the feeling delight! Hugs and love, Lynette
deleted_user
deleted_user

Once again I am amazed...the poetry you post always \"snatches\" me back as I am simply drifting along in the land of the living. Thank you.....another one I will read..read...and read again....
Robin4
Robin4

A quote I love reads ...\"life is meant to be enjoyed not just endured\". There is much truth to finding the \"delight\" and the \"music\" in our lives even a midst the heart ache. Thanks for sharing. This is a deep message to ponder. Love to you. Robin
deleted_user
deleted_user

This particular journal, Sarah, has had me thinking all morning! Such a profound poem. Such profound thoughts. It led me to remembering something I felt 6 months after losing Jim. I was driving around on country roads in the Catskills on a brilliant late summer day. I was still reeling from greatest sorror I will ever experience but on that day, I felt JOY. I can be a bit of a cornball, but I was singing through tears, \"The hills are alive....\" The Sound of Music. It came unsought, simply happened. I want more of this in my life. I know I am capable of it. I am seeking it. I give it an \'opening\' in my life. Thank you from the bottom of this tattered heart, Sarah.
deleted_user
deleted_user

This is so beautiful that I am sending it to my minister! She will love it.
BinkyH
BinkyH

So beautiful Sarah. Hope comes to mind for me. In the midst of whatever atrocities are going on around us, whatever breaks our heart, hope abounds as long as there is life among us.
KandL
KandL

Sarah, such food for thought. I so miss hearing the music, but as Gaye said I look to faith And faith will lead me back to music, laughter and true delight. I have to be patient and listen and learn. Thank you for posting this. Love to you and Andy, Linda
deleted_user
deleted_user

\"We must risk delight.\" I love that! Thank you for sharing this. It reminds me of Michael finding such delight in the \" \'bow\" as he called it...the rainbow that appeared on our dingy carpet, being reflected off the glass of our small aquarium. To him it was just pure magic. I\'ve never looked the same way at rainbows since!
biowoman
biowoman

Love is a risk...but I will gladly risk it...love to you...Karen
deleted_user
deleted_user

I always love your posts....the poems are lyrical and profound. We can discover laughter again and not feel guilty. I am reminded of my faith, too. If I believe all that I say I believe about God then I have every reason to sing and laugh even in the midst of this sadness...even when sorrow is not through with us. Thank you for sharing....love and poetry...dale, brandon\'s mom