Brendan Kennelly is one of Ireland’s best-loved poets. He is very much ‘the people’s poet’; a man with great intellect, humour and the most wonderful dimpled smile.
His poem A Happy Life is one which often makes me stop and think.
A Happy Life
What constitutes a happy life?
Enough money to meet your needs
a comfortable fire
a clear distance from law
a minimum of city business
a peaceful mind and a healthy body
simple wisdom and firm friends
enjoyable dinners and plain living
nights free from care
a virtuous wife who’s not a prude
enough sleep to make the darkness short
contentment with the life you have,
avoiding the sneer, the poisoned sigh;
no fear of death
and no desire to die.
( from: Brendan Kennelly, Martial Art , 2003)
7 thoughts on “A Happy Life ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 7”
I love this one. So uplifting. As someone who worked for years in the city and now avoid going near it as much as I can, that particular line made me chuckle heartily.
Louis, many thanks for writing. I have to say I can identify totally with your sentiments about ‘a minimum of city business.’ It;s the city leisure that I miss, betimes!
Lovely poem indeed Jean from a man who has seen great happiness and suffering; a bit like us all. PS New Year’s resolution: to meet you for coffee before the end of January. Promise.
Thanks John! It’s interesting to set the poem in the context of BK’s own life and, as you say, there are few, if any, who don’t have both happiness and suffering.
Makes me think about my own life.
Hi Dennis, yes, I think it’s a poem that should make us all stand back and reflect.
I can’t agree about the city business. I like cities. Mm, I don’t know about the virtuous wife bit either!! Oh well, each to their own.