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Delightful Discoveries

In my blog-hopping adventures this morning I discovered two absolute gems. 

The first is from Rachel at Swandive: a poem from Jack Gilbert’s book Refusing Heaven:

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 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.

I ran across that poem after I responded to Wendy’s lovely comment on my last post.  Jack Gilbert says it perfectly, “To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil. . .We must admit there will be music despite everything.”  I believe we are invited to relish the beauty of the divine presence pulsing in this world and hold that in loving tension with our tending to injustice. Our heart breaks open in response to both our celebration and sorrow, our pleasure and our rage.

The other is from Antony at Coming to the Quiet: a link to a music video by an Icelandic group called Sigur Ros (from their album Takk).  Unfortunately YouTube does not seem to support embedding in WordPress yet and I am too technically challenged to figure it out myself, but click on this link and go watch!  It is 6 minutes 13 seconds long but so worth watching through to the end, not just for the ethereal music, but the wondrous closing image.  Doesn’t it just make you want to book a trip to Iceland right now?

I am filled with delight this morning. Finding a new poet and a new band does wonders for my heart this day (although the wallet is another story. . .) :-)

Thanks Rachel and Antony for absolutely making my day!

May your days be blessed by song and poetry.

-Christine Valters Paintner

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4 Responses

  1. Yes it sure does wnat to make me book a trip to Iceland! :)

    Thanks for that poem and the thoughts from Gilbert with it. Truth and beauty.

    And thanks for spelling my name without an “h”; so many people miss that one. :)