I’ve been kind of squawky, ranty, and cussy lately, for which I apologize.  There’s just some stuff going on that’s driving me nuts and costing me ridiculous amounts of money.  You can probably figure out what.

I can tell you that there are finally big fat noisy birds in my yard, and my neighbors have tulips, crocuses, and lilies poking their colorful heads up–red, white, yellow, pink, purple–the purest colors nature’s ever seen.

I hear kids on their way to school, yelling at each other.

All of this stuff–springtime in general, especially–makes me very happy.

I’m really not a grumpy Gus.  Overall, I’m a very happy guy.  Just now–this very minute–I heard one bird twitter by my back door, and another outside my bedroom window.  I smiled and laughed out loud–not because there was anything funny about it, but because it made me happy.

Yeah, I have moments when I’d like to punch the universe in the nose, but those moments are rare and short-lived.  I get them out of my system–here–and two minutes later I’m laughing with the sparrows and congratulating flowers.

I’m going to post one of my all-time favorite poems.  It’s not necessarily the happiest poem that anybody ever wrote, but I think it’s beautiful, and it makes me happy.

It’s called “Tithonus” and it was written by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Basically, there’s this guy–a mere mortal–named Tithonus, and he fell in love with Aurora, who’s the goddess of the dawn.  It didn’t take them long to figure out the “Hey, wait a minute–I’m immortal and you’re not” dilemma, so Tithonus recommended that Aurora go before the council of the gods at Olympus and request immortality for him, the idea being that they could then be together forever.  This she did, and the gods said “Sure, no problem” and then waved a magic wand or something.

Slight problem:  Aurora requested eternal life for Tithonus, not eternal youth.  Big difference.  The poor guy just gets older and older and older and more decrepit and pitiful, while she’s there springing out of bed like a teenager in a zit-cream commercial every morning.

You know how those Greek gods are.  They hammered home Oscar Wilde’s admonition that you better be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it.

Well, Tithonus got it all right, and he got it in spades.

Here’s Tennyson’s take on the whole sorry ordeal, which is what Tithonus would say to Aurora if his b*lls hadn’t shrivelled up and blown away with yesterday’s wind.

You can take it or leave it, but I think it’s one of the most beautiful things ever done by anyone.

The woods decay, the woods decay and fall,
The vapours weep their burthen to the ground,
Man comes and tills the field and lies beneath,
And after many a summer dies the swan.
Me only cruel immortality
Consumes; I wither slowly in thine arms,
Here at the quiet limit of the world,
A white-hair’d shadow roaming like a dream
The ever-silent spaces of the East,
Far-folded mists, and gleaming halls of morn.
Alas! for this gray shadow, once a man–
So glorious in his beauty and thy choice,
Who madest him thy chosen, that he seem’d
To his great heart none other than a God!
I ask’d thee, “Give me immortality.”
Then didst thou grant mine asking with a smile,
Like wealthy men who care not how they give.

But thy strong Hours indignant work’d their wills,
And beat me down and marr’d and wasted me,
And tho’ they could not end me, left me maim’d
To dwell in presence of immortal youth,
Immortal age beside immortal youth,
And all I was in ashes. Can thy love
Thy beauty, make amends, tho’ even now,
Close over us, the silver star, thy guide,
Shines in those tremulous eyes that fill with tears
To hear me? Let me go: take back thy gift:
Why should a man desire in any way
To vary from the kindly race of men,
Or pass beyond the goal of ordinance
Where all should pause, as is most meet for all?

A soft air fans the cloud apart; there comes
A glimpse of that dark world where I was born.
Once more the old mysterious glimmer steals
From thy pure brows, and from thy shoulders pure,
And bosom beating with a heart renew’d.
Thy cheek begins to redden thro’ the gloom,
Thy sweet eyes brighten slowly close to mine,
Ere yet they blind the stars, and the wild team
Which love thee, yearning for thy yoke, arise,
And shake the darkness from their loosen’d manes,
And beat the twilight into flakes of fire.
Lo! ever thus thou growest beautiful
In silence, then before thine answer given
Departest, and thy tears are on my cheek.

Why wilt thou ever scare me with thy tears,
And make me tremble lest a saying learnt,
In days far-off, on that dark earth, be true?
“The Gods themselves cannot recall their gifts.”

Ay me! ay me! with what another heart
In days far-off, and with what other eyes
I used to watch–if I be he that watch’d–
The lucid outline forming round thee; saw
The dim curls kindle into sunny rings;
Changed with thy mystic change, and felt my blood
Glow with the glow that slowly crimson’d all
Thy presence and thy portals, while I lay,
Mouth, forehead, eyelids, growing dewy-warm
With kisses balmier than half-opening buds
Of April, and could hear the lips that kiss’d
Whispering I knew not what of wild and sweet,
Like that strange song I heard Apollo sing,
While Ilion like a mist rose into towers.

Yet hold me not for ever in thine East;
How can my nature longer mix with thine?
Coldly thy rosy shadows bathe me, cold
Are all thy lights, and cold my wrinkled feet
Upon thy glimmering thresholds, when the steam
Floats up from those dim fields about the homes
Of happy men that have the power to die,
And grassy barrows of the happier dead.
Release me, and restore me to the ground;
Thou seest all things, thou wilt see my grave:
Thou wilt renew thy beauty morn by morn;
I earth in earth forget these empty courts,
And thee returning on thy silver wheels.

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