The Mnemosyne Weekly: Poem Twenty-Four (Jeffers)

“Praise Life”
First, just let me say that, without question, there should be more postage stamps of poets. I’m sure all of you reading this entry would agree–and you might even tell me that there should be more magazine layouts, billboards, coffee cups, and t-shirts too. I wholeheartedly concur. But more importantly, we should be reading poems and carrying them with us in our hearts and minds.
This week, I’ll be carrying “Praise Life,” by Robinson Jeffers, with me wherever I go.  “Praise Life” strikes me because it reminds me that anguish and despair are a very true and intrinsic part of this glorious thing we call life. Every time I think I’m so happy that I can never feel low again, some deep sorrow drops into my life to remind me that I am not immune–that, really, every moment carries the twin seeds of suffering and joy. Yet, like Jeffers, I choose to make the brave decision to praise life anyway and to remember, even when I’m happy, that suffering exists and needs our care and compassion.

Praise Life

This country least, but every inhabited country
Is clotted with human anguish.
Remember that at your feasts.

And this is no new thing but from time out of mind,
No transient thing, but exactly
Conterminous with human life.

Praise life, it deserves praise, but the praise of life
That forgets the pain is a pebble
Rattled in a dry gourd.

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