Last Friday I went to my neighbor Clive Matson’s house for his monthly Poetry Saloon. (I’ve written about Clive before; he’s a poet and creative writing teacher whose website is here.) In past months I’d gone with samples from “You Are Here” to try out on Clive and his other guests. But since “You Are Here” is now undergoing a second round of edits, and since I had no other of my own work I wished to share, I decided to read aloud a William Wordsworth poem I’d stumbled on by accident about a year or two ago. And so I started to read:
Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary, Highland lass!
Reaping and singing by herself,
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! For the vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.
(You can read the rest of the poem here.)
Afterwards, a woman I’ve gotten to know through the Poetry Saloon turned to me and said to me, half-kiddingly I think, that I irritated her. How did I irritate her? I asked, surprised. Then she smiled and said I irritated her because I always seemed so “happy.”
Her comment took me by surprise. I honestly don’t think I’m any happier than the next guy. And I doubt she would have made that comment if, say, she saw me dragging myself out of bed on a Monday morning. But if she’d said nothing to me on Friday night, I might not have noticed that, in fact, I was extremely happy at that moment. After all, the weekend was beginning, I was sitting in a living room with other writers, and I’d just read a favorite poem. I’m embarrassed to think I would’ve missed the moment had she said nothing.
So as you start you week, I wish you this: please take a moment in your busy life to notice what makes you happy. Don’t rely on friends to point it out to you. And if you have a favorite poem you’d like to share with me—a poem that means something to you, that makes you happy—I’d love to hear it. I need something to keep me going while I wait for my manuscript to come back from the copy editor.