Everything is Going to be All Right

Derek Mahon

How should I not be glad to contemplate
the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window
and a high tide reflected on the ceiling?
There will be dying, there will be dying,
but there is no need to go into that.
The poems flow from the hand unbidden
and the hidden source is the watchful heart.
The sun rises in spite of everything
and the far cities are beautiful and bright.
I lie here in a riot of sunlight
watching the day break and the clouds flying.
Everything is going to be all right.
This is the poem that I have been living with the past couple of months and which is so alive for me. I am giving you the whole poem this time because, of course, the last line contains the message.

How should I not be glad to contemplate/ the clouds clearing beyond the dormer window/ and a high tide reflected on the ceiling?  – I was arrested by the invitation in Mahon’s question ‘how should I not be glad?’ – how not indeed, no equivocation there! And have you ever laid on your back and watched the sunlight cast moving shadows on the ceiling, moving like water? Try it some time.

There will be dying, there will be dying,/but there is no need to go into that. – This startling declaration is tempered by the reassurance that right now, we do not need to talk about that, though I feel sure this is not a denial that death is in the future.

The poems flow from the hand unbidden/ and the hidden source is the watchful heart. – When faced with death, words may come with ease when the heart is paying attention to what really matters.

The sun rises in spite of everything/ and the far cities are beautiful and bright. – I am not the first to note that no matter what tragedies or despair we encounter, the sun comes up every morning whether we want it to or not, whether we see its beauty or not.

I lie here in a riot of sunlight/ watching the day break and the clouds flying./Everything is going to be all right. – As I lie in an unrestrained profusion of sunlight, how could I not know that everything is going to be all right? There is such reassurance and comfort in that last line for me. Perhaps reading this, you, too, will feel the certainty that everything is going to be all right, no matter what.

8 thoughts on “Everything is Going to be All Right

  1. Such steady wisdom. At this moment, the (very warm) sun is filtering through the trees. I stop to take in the flickering light. My face breaks into a smile. How can it not? Thanks, Jan! xo Mary Lou

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  2. Jan, this is such a lovely contemplation of Mahon’s poem. Its come to mind for me numerous times this summer as a close friend has undergone chemo and radiation. And of course we never know in what way “everything is going to be alright”. But to find that place of wakeful gladness in spite of everything is pure gift. Thank you for the quiet wisdom of your reflections.

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  3. ‘that place of wakeful gladness’ – what a delightful phrase Wendy. Makes me think of Jack Gilbert’s ‘We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world’. Pure gift.

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