Happiness ~ by Jane Kenyon

By Jane Kenyon

There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.

It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basket maker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.

It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of the pine barrens,
to the rain falling on the open sea,
To the wineglass, weary of holding wine.

From the Collected Poems of Jane Kenyon
Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press. All rights reserved



Author: Virginia Wagner Galfo

These are scary times. Prepare yourself to take a stand for what is right. God damn it, just be kind!

4 thoughts on “Happiness ~ by Jane Kenyon”

  1. This gives me some hope. Thank you. Because of this I may make a positive poem one day. =] Hope you can check out my poems and share your opinion.


  2. Thanks for following, Virginia. I love the poems of Jane Kenyon, although I am not as familiar with her poems as I wish I were. This is one I had not previously read, so I am grateful that you posted it. Like you, I love T.S. Eliot. My two favorites of his are The Four Quartets and The Journey of the Magi.


    1. Thanks so much for your note, Hannah. I had printed Jane Kenyon’s poem, Happiness, and tacked it above my computer for about two years (10 years ago) never thinking that happiness would come to me.
      It has.


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