January is a month that feels like no other. The excitement and anticipation of December is a dim and distant memory and, whilst you began the new year with all the very best of intentions, now you are having to stick to them. Every day. And, sometimes, January’s thirty one days can seem to stretch out indefinitely and leave you feeling like it is never going to end. So, with the lighter and longer days of Spring still feeling a way off, you won’t be alone if you are feeling the need for a little something to brighten your mood. These poems are the perfect antidote to grey skies, wet and windy weather and bank balances also in need of a pick me up!
This is a poem about counting your own, very specific, blessings; the things to be thankful for that might not amount to much but that will remind you that life could be a lot harder or the simple pleasures that bring you a feeling of contentment. And whilst the poem reflects the emotions of someone who’s ‘bringing up baby days are far behind’ but their ‘senior-citizen days have not begun’, this message can be a useful reminder for all of us, whatever our age. By shifting our view of what happiness should look like, we might just find that our current experiences are what happiness is ‘turning out to be’.
The repetition of the title ‘sometimes’ throughout this poem is a reminder that, when things feel bleak, we should look for the exceptions to the rules. For anyone finding themselves feeling that they are having to struggle through something hard, the poem acknowledges that ‘sometimes our best efforts do not go amiss’ and provides a sense of optimism that ‘sometimes, things don’t go, after all, from bad to worse’ either. The final line; ‘may it happen for you’, is the feel good wish we might all be in need of to keep us upbeat and positive through the next few weeks.
If you don’t know already, as you may have guessed from the title of this well known poem, this is a poem about that thing that keeps us going. Dickinson has effectively used the metaphor of a bird to suggest the ways that hope is the thing ‘that perches in the soul’ we can cling to when things feel hard as it ‘never stops’ singing. The suggestion that hope has ‘kept so many warm’ might become the reassurance anyone who is currently experiencing some of their darker days so desperately seeks.
Whilst we can often become all too consumed with our own happiness, this poem recognises how the moments of joy in others can spark happiness for us too. The poem describes the ‘usual early morning stuff’ and how the poet watches two boys walking along the street together whilst he drinks his morning coffee before happiness ‘comes on unexpectedly’ and ‘goes beyond’. In this way, the poem serves as a reminder of the importance of connection in all of our lives.
So, whilst your new year’s resolutions may have already slipped away, why not start a new habit and take a moment each day to read some words like these that might improve your mood and leave you feeling uplifted and ready to face whatever the day might bring?