Poetry Friday: A Brief for the Defense | Jack Gilbert

DenaNovember 25, 2011

evolutionyou.net | november
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evolutionyou.net | poetry friday
A Brief for the Defense | Jack Gilbert
Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.

Comments (2)

  • Chris Barba

    November 29, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    Wow – really amazing poem.  It remains me of a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche,”Whatever your fate is, whatever the hell happens, you say, ‘This is what I need.’ It may look like a wreck, but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment—not discouragement—you will find the strength is there.

    I stumbled on your site from Matt Ramos’s 30 Vanquish. Really great site.  And I love your video! 

    Kudos Dena.

    1. Dena Botbyl

      November 29, 2011 at 7:44 pm

      Thanks so much, Chris.  I really love that–“This is what I need.”  Beautiful, thank you for sharing.  Glad you stumbled over here.  Hope you’ll visit again.  I am going to check out ‘Think Choose Live’ now.

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