Everything is abloom: cherry trees, apple trees, plum trees, pear trees, magnolias, azaleas, tulips, daffodils -- you name it. The grass is deep green and the sky is blue. As I walked through the neighborhood yesterday I thought something along these lines: The world is truly a paradise.
Of course, this sort of feeling cannot last for long. After all, the petals of the cherry blossoms already lie across the grass, the sidewalks, and the cars like a layer of snow. But still . . .
Question to Life
Surely you would not ask me to have known
Only the passion of primrose banks in May
Which are merely a point of departure for the play
And yearning poignancy when on their own.
Yet when all is said and done a considerable
Portion of living is found in inanimate
Nature, and a man need not feel miserable
If fate should have decided on this plan of it.
Then there is always the passing gift of affection
Tossed from the windows of high charity
In the office girl and civil servant section
And these are no despisable commodity.
So be reposed and praise, praise, praise
The way it happened and the way it is.
Patrick Kavanagh, Come Dance with Kitty Stobling and Other Poems (1960).
As I have noted before, Patrick Kavanagh experienced a poetic rebirth in the 1950s after his successful surgery for lung cancer in the spring of 1955. During this period he wrote what have come to be known as the "Canal Bank poems." (He wrote many of them during a time when he was wont to take walks along the Grand Canal in Dublin.) Most of the poems are marked by the sort of euphoria that is found in "Question to Life." Other fine examples include "The Hospital" and "Is," which I have previously posted.
Several of the poems are, like "Question to Life," sonnets (or something approaching a sonnet). Please note the rhyming of "inanimate" in line 6 with "this plan of it" in line 8. Very sly! (Evidence of Kavanagh's euphoria, perhaps.)
But, to return to the subject of paradise: "Yet when all is said and done a considerable/Portion of living is found in inanimate/Nature, and a man need not feel miserable/If fate should have decided on this plan of it." Yes. "So be reposed and praise, praise, praise/The way it happened and the way it is." Yes. Despite the cherry blossom petals in the gutter. Despite the news of the world.