Small Basket of Happiness by Naomi Shihab Nye

Small Basket of Happiness
BY Naomi Shihab Nye

It would never call your name.

But it would be waiting somewhere close,

perhaps under a crushed leaf

turned from pale green to gold

with no fanfare.

You hadn’t noticed

the gathered hush

of a season’s tipping.

Shadows flowing past

before any light came up,

people whom only a few

might remember,

so much accompaniment

inside a single breeze.

All whom we loved.

In the quiet air lived

the happiness they had given.

And would still give, if only.

You would slow down a minute.

You would bend.

Small Basket of Happiness

Just in the title, Naomi Shihab Nye, creates a visual image, a small basket of happiness – can you picture it? what would it contain? She assures us It would never call your name; it does not come looking for us; we must open our eyes to see how it may be waiting somewhere close.

She wants us to notice the gathered hush / of a season’s tipping, how easily we can miss that as the earth changes its position with the sun. There is so much accompaniment / inside a single breeze, so much just within that phrase – shadows, people you might remember.

It is these people, All whom we loved she invites us to recall, and the happiness they had given. Not only that they gave us happiness, but would still give, if only. If only, and I can feel the poem slowing down here, You would slow down a minute. If only you would bend toward the happiness that is waiting for you.

8 thoughts on “Small Basket of Happiness by Naomi Shihab Nye

  1. [image: Autumn leaves in rain Tell Abraham.jpg] To go with Small Basket of Happiness. – It is a photo taken by a great friend living in Melbourne, Victoria (Australia) TERRY ABRAHAM – an artist & teacher. I just sent it to one of my oldest friends, Wendy Harcourt, who is travelling on the Eurostar to UK to attend on Saturday her father’s Memorial service at Jesus College, Cambridge. It was a perfect poem to send… Thank you Janice Love Maggie PS Molly – who wants to be called LIV – came last night for a shower & tucker. Cleo the Cat & her stayed from late afternoon until 2:30a.m. WE had positive long, long chats throughout that time. She told me about her overseas trip & her problems & solutions. I’m sure the losses have built up and were utterly overwhelming for her. She is not talking rubbish, only talking. I bought her a Van a few days ago and she is sleeping & living in that. She would not stay the night, but luxuriated in every treat we could share – lovely Argan oil hair products; soaps etc. She took an old heavy wool dressing gown of mine ( too small) & a pair of my Ugg boots (I’d just received a new pair – which she would not take!). The Cat, Cleo, spent a lot of time with me as Molly/Liv went to get shopping; collect her bike (being stored at a friend’s house), and set up the Van with Nicholas’ help. Cat and I were snuggled in bed because a) I’d had a bit of a fall in morning; b) I’d just come back from getting my Shingles vaccination & c) I was exhausted – I am pretty sure the stress was very high my BP 213/95 the highest recording in my life. I am exhibiting clear signs of CCF and was given Frusemide / Lasix to take each morning to shift the fluid gathering in my ankles. I have this ominous feeling that was the last time I will see my daughter. Love M


  2. So glad this was a perfect poem for you to send your friend Maggie. And I’m gratified to hear that you spent such a special time with Liv – may there be many more opportunities. love Janice
    ps still can’t access the photo 😦 but know it will be just the right one 🙂


  3. “if only.
    You would slow down a minute.
    You would bend.”

    Oh, yes. I’ve been practicing this for the past few days. I have been stiff my entire life, and this has been a relief for me. I’m not very good at it yet, but I’m trying. 😉
    Thank you, dear Jan. xoxo


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