…and lastly, at least for now (I have asked Father Christmas for the Collected Poems, so…), I will end these limited musings on the works of Stephen Dunn on a positive note.

What I like most about the poem Happiness¬†(in: Staying Alive.¬†Neil Astley (ed). Northumberland: Bloodaxe Books, 2005, p.81), is the poet’s acknowledgement that happiness, like most emotions, is fleeting and transient:

‘A state you must dare not enter

with hopes of staying…’

But, in the the space of a very short poem, he also recognises that happiness, although transient, always remains a possibility:

‘But there it is, as promised,

with its perfect bridge above

the crocodiles,

and its doors forever open.’

I thought of Julia Darling’s poem, Chemotherapy (in: Signs and Humours: The Poetry of Medicine. Lavinia Greenlaw (ed). London: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2007, p.62) in which, although Darling openly acknowledges that her life with cancer has changed dramatically – ‘I never thought that life could get this small…’, she also observes that hers is a life that is not without a joy of sorts:

‘I am not unhappy. I have learnt to drift

and sip. The smallest things are gifts.’