Midsummer nights are meant for dreams that serve to lengthen summer days. No matter how slowly the moon wanes, I don’t complain, and instead stretch to “awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth.” A jigsaw puzzle fit into our weekend do-nothing plans. I chose this fun, literary one from the New York Review of Books gift catalog.
Each stage of its assembly involved a different collaboration. Sorting, flipping over all the pieces, finding the corners, deciding which areas to begin. Puzzling over the characters and scenes from Shakespeare’s life and imagination kept us curious. Out, damned melancholy!
Yet, a poem can be a conversation with melancholy itself. It’s not exactly a soliloquy, because a poem often answers for the other half of the discourse. It doesn’t always end up a sad poem, because melancholy often has beautiful, precious things to tell.
With the patience of a thousand pieces in various stages of organization across the living room floor, a poem assembles a scene in the inner eye. Wisdom, awe, humility, among other designs, recur as motifs. Writing a poem takes time, trial-and-error, and collaboration with the universe.
I wonder how many other poets have been writing about this galaxy-studded, grain-of-sand sized perspective from the James Webb Space Telescope this week. Seeding many a midsummer night’s dream, I’m sure.
Sometimes it’s the overlap of things I read that help me begin new poems. A couple of articles on the history and treatment of pain as well as depression in the New York Review of Books overlap with Shakespeare and a classic translation of the Dhammapada.
There is no fire like passion; there is no losing throw like hatred; there is no pain like this body; there is no happiness higher than rest.Ch. XV – Happiness, Wisdom of the Buddha: The Unabridged Dhammapada, translated by F. Max Muller
How well do we rest? The chapter encourages gratitude for health, tranquil solitude, and the company of good people. Awakening that sense of active, productive rest gets a boost through gratitude practices, like this short, affirmation meditation by Jonathan Lehmann on Insight Timer.
Poetry thrives on mirth and inner attentiveness. Do your best to dream happy dreams.