Sonnet on Mirth

Well, friends, first-timers, and regular bleaders, I didn’t know what I was going to say today.  Busy may have its own roots, as a word, but for me it is a swarm of bzzzing bees.  I need rather a lion at the moment.  I have two kids, a two year old girl star of my life and a four year old boy man of the world in preschool, husband chases them around and does editing jobs from home when he can, I teach part time, and am rewriting a book proposal to give to a new agent I have not yet found.  Scary because coffers are low.   The key is, don’t panic, don’t rush.  The lock is that my inclination is to freak.  But we all have our inclinations to bear.  I’m feeling pretty happy and optimistic despite the slings and arrows of outrageous lack of fortune.  Hen y whey, do any of you have a high paying job you for which you need a poet-historian-philosopher?  Let me know.  Or maybe you are a patron manque?

So I didn’t know what I was going to say today but Violi’s poem inspired me.  I love those red lipped girls he gave us!  Tellers indeed.  So here’s one of my own.  This is from Funny, in which all the poems have old jokes in them, except for a handful of introductory sonnets, and this is one of those.

“The preacher” in it is another name for Koheleth who wrote Ecclesiastes, which is where the “better to live in the house of mourning than the house of mirth” line comes from, as well as many other brilliancies.  I think I can count on this audience to know who the Bard is.

Here’s yer pome.

Sonnet on Mirth

Of mirth the poets counsel little after

that present it be loved for present laughter.

Also that fool hearts, alone, let themselves belong in

the house of it; the wise, the house of mourning.

Why such divergent answers from such teachers?

Life seemed cruelly short to bard; cruelly long to preacher.

Yet true times run as rivers flow or candles burn,

long in the stretches, short on the turns,

and mirth with bitter herbs is better taken

than meals of mirth alone or years of it forsaken.

Does sweet improve when mixed with strain

or is it that the acrid in that blend begins to fade?

Much endures while youth slips away like a thief,

mirth is a wine well pressed in the house of grief.

 

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About jennifermichaelhecht

I'm a poet with a PhD in the History of Science from Columbia University and I've written five books, two poetry, two popular philosophy, one intellectual history. I live in Brooklyn with my husband and our two little kids. I teach seminars in poetry in the MFA programs at The New School and at Columbia.
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