Monday, November 18, 2013

in defence of joy and winter

In Defence of Joy

by Mario Benedetti

Defend joy as a trench
defend it from scandal and routine
from misery and miserable
from temporary absences
and from definitive ones.

Defend joy as a principle
defend it from wonder and nightmares
from neutrals and neutrons
from sweet infamies
and serious diagnoses

Defend joy as a flag
defend it from ray and melancholy
from naives and rogues
from rhetoric and cardiac attacks
from endemics and academics

Defend joy as a destination
defend it from fire and firefighters
from suicidal and homicidal
from vacations and burden
from the obligation of being happy.

Defend joy as a certainty
defend it from oxide and dirt
from the famous brushwork of time
from dew and opportunism
from pimps of laughter

Defend joy as a Right
defend it from God and winter
from capital letters and death
from surnames and sorrows
from chance
and from joy itself.

I sometime think that as much as we need to defend joy, and we do, we also need to defend winter from those forces of complaint who would put a damper on our enjoyment of the season. Which is not to say the season is without its difficulties and challenges. Deluged by complaints about the cold, the terrible state of the roads, the snow that must be shovelled, one must be more determined to see and to defend the particular poetry of winter. And as Baudelaire has said, "dreamers like a severe winter." Yes, it has been called the 'sad season' but its melancholy, elongated evenings, and snowy erasure, can all contribute to the happiness of creativity. Also, as Bachelard has said in A Poetics of Space, even a reminder of winter "strengthens the happiness of inhabiting."

I never enjoy a Sunday afternoon more, for example, when it's snowing out, and there is baking in the oven, and a warm, cozy dinner planned. A glass of wine late in the afternoon, while things are simmering on the stove, my journal sprawled open on the kitchen table, and the snow falling and settling into the crooks of trees, is a splendid thing.

It snowed nearly all weekend. There had been a little rain, previously, which turned into snow. While this does contribute to the treacherousness of roads, it does beautiful things with the leftover berries, rose hips, and cherries, not to mention whatever leaves happen to be left clinging to this cold and yet sparkling world. 


  1. Thank you, Shawna, for standing up for winter. I always rejoice when a heavy blanket of snow covers everything before the temperatures drop really low - gardens and wild plants alike need that insulation. And I love walking out in the snow and the cold. It makes me feel alive and human. It can become wearisome, trying to defend such pleasures and beauty in the face of complaints and the longing for hot beaches. Your photos today are a marvelous defense of winter.

  2. I see a Christmas card in those Mountain Ash berries! Lovely, sugary snaps. . . Well done!


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