Maybe it is a non-starter, an impossible dream, or a complete non-sequitur when one puts men and women together and anticipates that happiness can somehow be yielded. Or, is a real basis for happiness the joining of the two sexes in a truly loving and mutually respectful and mutually supportive relationship? In my forays looking to find bases for happiness, I ran into John Cowper Powys (1872-1963) who was described as “one of the great puzzles of 20th century literature.” He wrote over 50 volumes, including novels, poetry, essays and philosophical works. In his “Art of Happiness,” Powys portrayed women in a very dated way (at least to my way of thinking). He held women on a pedestal that most women today would not climb upon. In any event, I was inspired to use his musings as a basis for some descriptive-type poetry that I suggest could best be enjoyed by being read aloud (as are most poems I do believe).
Just to be clear: I am of the belief that women are a superior race.
A woman is an artist Who creates an atmosphere Into which she can escape; Where she can stay Whole and independent While her mate Is perpetually dragging her To engage in purposes, Undertakings and mental images All of his own. Her world and his Are separate crystal spheres That actually touch At only one point: The point of enjoyment of each other – An enjoyment That would lose its zest If what touched Were two flat boards And not a magnetic point On the curve of a planetary circle. Women are closer to nature; Women savor deeply And mysteriously The general spectacle of the world. They relish, with an indescribable glow, This motley procession Of sights and sounds; Of changing moods As the fitful fever of life Foams and ferments around them. The sub-aqueous pleasure of theirs – In the chaotic motion of the life-stream – Belongs to the innermost Nerves of their being. Only the wisest of them Are aware of their deepest happiness; And, aware or not, They all enjoy it, Drawing their miraculous endurance from it. They are all mediums Of its occulted revelations. Every woman is a sea shell, Within whose hollow curves The great ocean of life Murmurs it hidden secrets. This mystic realism of theirs Evokes that indescribable smile When they listen to man.
Man: the abstractor of essences; Man: the projector of theories; Man: the creator of ideas; Man: the discoverer of laws – Droning on like a great metaphysical Bumble bee on the high shore Of the many-sounding deep. A woman’s world Is a coral pleasure dome, Built upon the depths Of the fabulous gulf-stream Of life.
It is hard to re-enter This earthly paradise When the pressure of common life, Of custom and recurrence Have once closed those magic gates. She escapes into her own world Of sensation and creation – A world that links her girlhood With her womanhood – A world that all other women Can make shiver to its foundations; A world about which No man – From the beginning of history – Has any clue!
Happiness And Love
When a woman loves, She loves a man’s inalienable self (recognizing here that love can span one’s own gender also) That self which his dignity – His pride and his masterfulness – His grandiose gestures, As well as what his lust And weakness conceal. These things are concealed Not only from the world, But also from man, himself. A woman’s happiness Is rarely a mental thing – Rarely a self-conscious thing. A woman’s happiness is indeed, At its deepest and most natural, Just that very pleasure That there is in life itself. For a man to be happy, His pride needs to be satisfied; His lust satisfied; His conscience satisfied; His love of work, And his love of play Satisfied. For a woman It is much more complicated. Conscience has nothing to do with it; Pride very little; Lust hardly at all; Neither work or play Emerge as of primary importance.
She – woman - must have Scope to live to herself: To build a self-stylized Work of Art that surrounds her Like a mother-of-pearl shell, Projecting her essential soul.
Happiness For Man And Woman
So, is there, then, an answer – a formula – to achieving happiness in a relationship? Let’s leave aside for this exploration same sex relationships although the roles assumed may also benefit from this one.
To be happy – With that deep, fluid, pervasive happiness – Waiting to brim over From the Sacred Fount To invade every nerve and fiber – A woman needs to feel Her desirability.
Her desirability relates first To her relationship with the common elements – Things appearing solid (which we know they are not) And things so related To how the things She interacts with – To the cosmos. Then, with regard to herself, To other women, To her particular man: She needs to yield herself up To that mysterious Embrace of the Universe Where she feels That she loves Everything in the world – And everything in the world Loves her. She becomes A bride of the Universe. What man loves Is girlhood in the abstract. He then becomes possessed By a mysterious and strange Being Whose ways are not his ways; Whose thoughts are not his thoughts. So what is he to do? Confess his sins, Offer up on the altar His conquests and his pride. It is better to be a shameless fool In Paradise, Than a discreet and honorable gentleman In Hell. Hold her as The wickedest of all women; And when you have gone the limit – Think of her As you love her best; As you admire her most: All fault forgotten. The wickedest will then have died And your angel returned to life. Assume it is impossible for her to change; Yet always possible For you to change. She is an elemental force of nature. If you, as man, are to be happy – Your first rapturous epoch Of love-making now past – You must forever stimulate That magical lust Which a woman’s body And the expressions on her face So excite you. Use every passing glimpse Of other long-for caskets of mystery To enhance diffused satisfaction In the one at your side. This “bird in the hand,” Is a living embodiment of All the infinite allurements That so attract you. So, in the end, What is the formula – The equation, the potion, The posture, the stance That will enable each – And together – To recapture and hol The magic of romance? The whole glory of going onward Is wrapped in the formula:
That he should be man to the limit – And That she should be woman as she was born.
Happiness is then Forever being renewed By the eternal building of new bridges Over the everlasting gulf.