Let a Joy Keep You

When I was a child, my mother gave me a beautiful book of the works of Carl Sandburg. I don’t know what happened to it, but I loved that book. It was meant for children and it was filled with silly stories and poems. The story about the man who named his children after their first words so one was named “Give-Me-the-Hammer.” That makes no sense and I loved it.

I recently came across Selected Poems by Carl Sandburg at a used bookstore. Lovely! These are not children’s poems and it’s wonderful to be re-introduced to his work. Sandburg brings me joy.

His poem by that title makes me smile. Joy. The last two lines read, “let joy kill you! Keep away from the little deaths.” There are so many “little deaths,” it’s easy to lose yourself in them. Don’t. The thing is, there are so many joys as well. Find the joy in life. It’s everywhere. As Sandburg says, “reach out your hands,” and sing “smashed to the heart under the ribs with a terrible love.”

We are living in unprecedented times. We hear that a lot these days, that term—“unprecedented times.” It’s a euphemism I think, for “things are pretty shitty right now.” The thing is there is just so much good too, so much to feel joyful about. 

In the words of Sandburg, “Live long and laugh loud.”

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