I know I’m a week late with this, but I actually have some great pictures for this and something to write about – I even have a couple poems! The only excuse I have for being a week late on this one is that our whole family has been hit hard by a cold this week and it was really all I could do just to get through school each day. Luckily today is a short day and so here I am … finally.
Let’s start with the poems, shall we? I found these very different reflections on “Joy” while looking for something to add to Poetry Wednesday and accompany my “the way I see it” photos. They just happen to fit into what I was going to say about how I, or rather my children – specifically Josie – experience joy.
"I have no name:
I am but two days old."
What shall I call thee?
"I happy am,
Joy is my name."
Sweet joy befall thee!
Sweet joy but two days old,
Sweet joy I call thee:
Thou dost smile,
I sing the while,
Sweet joy befall thee!
By Claude McKay
There is joy in the woods just now,
The leaves are whispers of song,
And the birds make mirth on the bough
And music the whole day long,
And God! to dwell in the town
In these springlike summer days,
On my brow an unfading frown
And hate in my heart always—
A machine out of gear, aye, tired,
Yet forced to go on—for I’m hired.
Just forced to go on through fear,
For every day I must eat
And find ugly clothes to wear,
And bad shoes to hurt my feet
And a shelter for work-drugged sleep!
A mere drudge! but what can one do?
A man that’s a man cannot weep!
Suicide? A quitter? Oh, no!
But a slave should never grow tired,
Whom the masters have kindly hired.
But oh! for the woods, the flowers
Of natural, sweet perfume,
The heartening, summer showers
And the smiling shrubs in bloom,
Dust-free, dew-tinted at morn,
The fresh and life-giving air,
The billowing waves of corn
And the birds’ notes rich and clear:—
For a man-machine toil-tired
May crave beauty too—though he’s hired.
Joy seems to be one of those things that is easily adulterated. We all begin as in Blake’s poem above – Joy is [our] name! However, we learn, as we age, not to fly to high on the wings of joy for fear of crashing. And so we moderate our joy, temper it with a healthy dose of reality, and so it loses its wonder – its purity – until it becomes something almost foreign and out of reach as it is for the speaker of McKay’s poem – who “may crave beauty too.”
However, I find that I don’t have to look far to find joy; I see it nearly every day in my children, especially my youngest two girls, who have yet to learn to pace themselves, and do not fear to soar high on the mighty thermals of joy. Their joy has not been adulterated; or rather, it has not yet been adult-ed – a much better word for their youthful freedom.
This summer was Josie’s summer. You know that summer – when a child suddenly comes into her own and she find that the world is hers for now.
- This summer Josie learned to swim. Not “learned to swim” in that she was able to survive or even like swim lessons, but rather that she conquered the world of water – she moved within it and it no longer had power over her. When she swam, she would, with evident joy in her independence, move in the water like she belonged in it – floating, diving, twisting, fishing around.
- This summer Josie learned to swing on her own – pumping her legs in and out, pulling herself toward the sky, back and forth. Free from hard palms in her back, her toes brushing the branches of the trees on the back slope – look mom!! Joy – unadult-ed, full and large!
- This is the summer that Josie began preschool, ventured outside her home and away from mother’s embrace toward new friends and adventure and fun. She’s thriving, loving it, wanting to go every day.
And what better way to see joy –
JOY at the State Fair!! A wonderland for anyone under 10; a challenging, if fun, day for the adults.
Once a year?