Thursday, November 17, 2022

A Gathering of Poetry: November 2022

There are some days that I can barely stand the onslaught of troubling news, needless war with the threat of nuclear weapons, rampant inflation, and other daily tragedies. But we still need to exist, live, and maybe even thrive during these times. The world is both terrible and wonderful, and as it so often does, poetry helps to remind us that "we must risk delight" and practice stubborn gladness in the "ruthless furnace of this world."

A Brief for the Defense
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 caf├ęs 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.


Gilbert, Jack. "A Brief for the Defense.” Refusing Heaven: Poems, Knopf, 2007.
You can read more about the poet here


Thanks for reading and joining us for our third monthly Gathering of Poetry. Be sure to visit Kym and Kat so you can gather more poetry and you can add your link below if you would like to share one of your favorite poems. The more the merrier!

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  1. Wow! This is wonderful, Bonny! I am printing this out and putting it in my journal. It is an excellent reminder when the world is overwhelming. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. This is a poem that really captures . . . The All Of It, doesn't it? That ongoing challenge of balancing personal delights with world horrors. I have never seen/read this poem before, but you can bet I'm gathering this one into my file of "keepers." Thank you so much for sharing! XO

  3. This is such a perfect poem for right now, and for any hard time, really, and I think it captures how I've been trying to live my life the past few years -- embracing joy and delight in spite of the horrible news. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  4. Such a true and honest poem. Wonderful, powerful, grounding. Thank you Bonny!

  5. I love that idea of risking delight. I think it's worth the risk!

  6. 'we must risk delight' that reminds me of Ross Gay's book of delights. What a great poem!

  7. This poem beautifully captures today's world. I love the idea of "risking delight."


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