“The habit of frolic”

“In My Seventy-Third November”–the ‘habit of frolic’

Broughton, James, 1913-1999: In My Seventy-Third November [from Packing Up For Paradise: Selected Poems 1946-1996: James Broughton (1997) , University of Pittsburgh Press ]

Perseverance furthers says the I Ching
but body cells get tired along the way
and cease dividing.
Hard to accept: running at half speed
mistaking targets
being embraced nightly by a backache.

Despite my belief in urgency
and my respect for discipline
I have never learned to train my vaguery
or budget my vagaries.
Though I still consider myself
potent passionate and proliferant
I excel in doodle dawdle and drowse.

Don’t blame me for being what I am.
We are all more things than we seem.
I haven’t relinquished amazement
nor have I forgotten how to cherish.
If I am staring out the window at nothing
maybe it is something worth looking at.

In spite of my chronic torpor
I cling to the habit of frolic,
I keep signing up for gaiety and grace.
Regardless of my dwindle I know I am loved,
because of my nuttiness I know I am blessed.
Laughter said Victor Hugo is the soap of the gods.
I scrub daily to be dafter hereafter.

( 1986 )




Broughton’s poem speaks of the November of one’s life–the “damp, drizzly November” in the soul as Melville writes in Moby Dick.  And what fine sound-effects in the final two lines.

Broughton remains  able to frolic, to sign up for gaity, to persevere. I appreciate this reminder: the aching back and the mistaken targets have become so peremptory that I rarely leave room for the cherish and the amazement.

Author: Gubbinal

Bookish, tea-drinking cat-lady who loves great poetry and music and is in the midst of dying

3 thoughts on ““The habit of frolic””

  1. “The habit of frolic” What a lovely phrase — and idea! Thank you for a timely reminder to “sign up for gaiety and grace” on a regular basis as an antidote to despair.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s