Cheerfulness Taught by Reason


Cheerfulness Taught by Reason
By Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I think we are too ready with complaint
In this fair world of God’s. Had we no hope
Indeed beyond the zenith and the slope
Of yon gray blank of sky, we might be faint
To muse upon eternity’s constraint
Round our aspirant souls. But since the scope
Must widen early, is it well to droop,
For a few days consumed in loss and taint?
O pusillanimous Heart, be comforted,—
And, like a cheerful traveller, take the road—
Singing beside the hedge. What if the bread
Be bitter in thine inn, and thou unshod
To meet the flints?—At least it may be said,
“Because the way is short, I thank thee, God!”

About This Poem

“Cheerfulness Taught by Reason” was published in Browning’s book A Drama of Exile: and other poems (H. G. Langley, 1845). It is true, we are often all too ready to complain, but God is on our side. God provides us with hope and happiness, it is only without Him that we could truly complain. If there was no God, we would have right to become weak and feel like our aspirations are constrained by an empty eternity, but because there is much more in life beyond that where there is God, we shouldn’t complain when we have a few bad days. Our cowardly hearts should be comforted and we should move on happily. Even if we come across some bad times, at least this life God has given us is short and afterwards we can have paradise for eternity. To put that more succinctly, on this journey to happiness, we must be prepared to run into bumps in the road, but know in the end it will get better. Even if in the end you feel as if the journey has taught you nothing, you must be thankful that the journey was short.

This poem was, in my opinion, a perfect companion to my post yesterday. My road has been bumpy and the journey has been arduous, but I persevered and kept God by my side, and I am much happier because of it.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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