The title is not mine; it’s what Billy Collins wrote at the top of this collection of words, a collection which some of you may recognize as a poem. The rest of you can go sit on a tack.
So much gloom and doubt in our poetry –
flowers wilting on the table,
the self regarding itself in a watery mirror.
Dead leaves cover the ground,
the wind moans in the chimney,
and the tendrils of the yew tree inch toward the coffin.
I wonder what the ancient Chinese poets
would make of all this,
the shadows and empty cupboards?
Today, with the sun blazing in the trees,
my thoughts turn to the great
tenth-century celebrators of experience,
Wa-Hoo, whose delight in the smallest things
could hardly be restrained,
and to his joyous counterpart in the western provinces,