A slice of my day and a Shelley poem about joy that isn’t

I forced myself out of the house. I went to the first Friday Art Walk to one building (the Ford Building/Division and 11th) in one block of the city which is teeming with art and poetry. I sculpted a mask-trio wall-hanging. The smell of the wet clay in my hands was so amazing, I didn’t know if I wanted to eat it or rub my face in it. I heard music (tragic and beautiful). I ate gluten-free coffee-cake (beautiful but not tragic). I went into a genealogical library which the curator told me was filled with old diaries (to which I replied diaries are filled with lies and edits) but oh my god the smell of dust and old books, centuries old paper.

A man I’d just met and I tried to impress each other with alternating cynicism and optimism and reflections on the story arc of human history. His take was humanity is the story of trying to make things better but doing it badly. Then he ran off in search of the man who’d introduced us. And I was gutted by their absence. Literally eviscerated by the absence of near strangers. The music was too sad. I called for a cab. As I was leaving, my absent companions came shouting down the street after me “G.L.! G.L.!” They’d been sequestered in a nearby bar that last hour or two. I considered going with them. It was early enough to find another bar, another band. But my loyalty was to the cab-driver now (who had after all come when I called him). I went home hoping being found and wanted was enough to stave off the hungry daemons of depression. At 4am, in pain and not sleeping, I looked up joyous on poetry site and discovered this poem. Spirit of delight, why so fickle? Are you getting drunk nearby while I eat organic nachos and a classical guitarist sings me suicidal lullabies?

Song: Rarely, rarely, comest thou

BY PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY

Rarely, rarely, comest thou,
         Spirit of Delight!
Wherefore hast thou left me now
         Many a day and night?
Many a weary night and day
‘Tis since thou are fled away.
How shall ever one like me
         Win thee back again?
With the joyous and the free
         Thou wilt scoff at pain.
Spirit false! thou hast forgot
All but those who need thee not.
As a lizard with the shade
         Of a trembling leaf,
Thou with sorrow art dismay’d;
         Even the sighs of grief
Reproach thee, that thou art not near,
And reproach thou wilt not hear.
Let me set my mournful ditty
         To a merry measure;
Thou wilt never come for pity,
         Thou wilt come for pleasure;
Pity then will cut away
Those cruel wings, and thou wilt stay.
I love all that thou lovest,
         Spirit of Delight!
The fresh Earth in new leaves dress’d,
         And the starry night;
Autumn evening, and the morn
When the golden mists are born.
I love snow, and all the forms
         Of the radiant frost;
I love waves, and winds, and storms,
         Everything almost
Which is Nature’s, and may be
Untainted by man’s misery.
I love tranquil solitude,
         And such society
As is quiet, wise, and good;
         Between thee and me
What difference? but thou dost possess
The things I seek, not love them less.
I love Love—though he has wings,
         And like light can flee,
But above all other things,
         Spirit, I love thee—
Thou art love and life! Oh come,
Make once more my heart thy home.

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