Good article from the Smart Set about sad poetry.
"When a good poem captures sadness, it reminds us of the times we’ve been sad, whether after a death, a failed romance, or even no dessert; of when we’ve been more humble, more understanding and open, more certain that we would never want anybody to feel sad in any way, ever."
I had been thinking about this for a while-- the fact that I am not able to relax without being depressed, because I associate relaxation with poetry, and poetry with depressing themes. I guess it doesn't help if Franz Wright is one of my favorite poets, and his work is mostly about suicide, it seems...
But I guess it's not such a bad thing after all. Apparently reading sad poetry activates the parasympathetic nervous system, aiding digestion and slowing down heart rate... definitely something I need since my stress level is on a permanent "fight or flight" stage.
I've read this poem before, but it's still one of the saddest and most gentle things:
Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?