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Happy poetry and books


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I was thinking I could ask you all a question I stumbled upon in therapy. I am a "big" reader, and books and poetry are hugely important in my life, and most of the books I used to like had "unhealthy" worldviews (I mean, if you think that Wuthering Heights describes how the world really is, you'll probably end up not being happy). 
But I noticed I also have a number of books that are the embodiments of ... things I explore in therapy: it is fine to have feelings, it is going to be okay, it is okay to be attached, the world has good things. It's mostly picture books (because children books are usually happier and more optimistic than general literature), but also a lot of Mary Oliver's poems. 

So I was wondering, what are your happy/safe poems? Books? Fiction? Non-fiction?
(I can post my list if anyone is interested).

One of the obvious ones is "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver: 


You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.


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I'm a fan of poems but have been very lazy about reading them the past few years. Perhaps I'm avoiding them.

I have a book by Joanie Mackowski that I’ve enjoyed somewhat recently and I consider it somewhat life-affirming in its own way. (However, poetry can be rather personal like taste in music.)

Here’s the first lines of the first poem in the book:



That the hole in my skull never quite grows over
with mosses or brick. That no lover
on a ladder can patch it, no permissive meadow
can fold its field over. For there’s too much to know.
There’s too much to want never to contain.

The whole poem can be read here:

Here’s a link to another poem of hers, Consciousness: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/243358

The first lines:



How it is fickle, leaving one alone to wander

the halls of the skull with the fluorescents
softly flickering. It rests on the head

like a bird nest, woven of twigs and tinsel
and awkward as soon as one stops to look.


I’ve gotten quite a bit of use out of Ellen Bryant Voigt’s The Cusp over the years. I reflect on it during certain times in my life. It’s a bit sad but also hopeful (in my opinion). She's not normally a favorite of mine but I've always connected to that poem.

That’s all I can come up with off the top of my head. I would be interested in your list(s) if you want to share.

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  • 4 years later...

Resurrecting this to say that I've recently been reading poetry by Jane Hirshfield and it might be something you'd be interested in, if you haven't already read her work, especially her book Lives of the Heart. I mean, there is sadness and loneliness, but there's a lot of nature and beauty and food for thought.


Hope and Love
Jane Hirshfield

All winter
the blue heron
slept among the horses.
I do not know
the custom of herons,
do not know
if the solitary habit
is their way,
or if he listened for
some missing one—
not knowing even
that was what he did—
in the blowing
sounds in the dark.
I know that
hope is the hardest
love we carry.
He slept
with his long neck
folded, like a letter
put away.

Now, I'm not sure if Mark Doty's poetry in general would be to your taste; however, who can resist "A Green Crab's Shell"?


A Green Crab's Shell
Mark Doty

Not, exactly, green:
closer to bronze
preserved in kind brine,

something retrieved
from a Greco-Roman wreck,
patinated and oddly

muscular. We cannot
know what his fantastic
legs were like—

though evidence
suggests eight
complexly folded

scuttling works
of armament, crowned
by the foreclaws'

gesture of menace
and power. A gull's
gobbled the center,

leaving this chamber
—size of a demitasse—
open to reveal

a shocking, Giotto blue.
Though it smells
of seaweed and ruin,

this little traveling case
comes with such lavish lining!
Imagine breathing

surrounded by
the brilliant rinse
of summer's firmament.

What color is
the underside of skin?
Not so bad, to die,

if we could be opened
into this—
if the smallest chambers

of ourselves,
revealed some sky.


Edited by aquarian
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