Happiness by Andy McMaster


by Andy McMaster

Deep still into the winter, the night frozen
only gives a grudging way to the sun. Nuthatch smartly attired
and quick in to breakfasting up the sheer pine, noisily seeking starters
and now to the supply of nuts hung on a rust encrusted iron post.

The nuthatch, sublimely strong shoulders a bantamweight boxer
would be proud of; no neck, just pure strength and sharp dining beak.
Robin, blue tits, gossiping sparrows all active alive on this blue black,
grey, deep winter’s day.

Happiness is being. Joy, deeper, is being aware of the magic
constant around you: a gift. Joy and sorrow,
passing acquaintances on nodding terms.
And yet they balance each other perfectly.

Yesterday the grey day; the bad news; the illness.
Today eggshell blue sky and the flight of birds following today’s meal
to go find and singing, singing praise.
Joy and sorrow, today, tomorrow.

I believe the answer is just be you.
That is happiness, at times
touching on joy.


3 thoughts on “Happiness by Andy McMaster

  1. Beautifully evokes the feshness of a new day, a new Winter’s day. I love the crunching frost sounds in ‘rust encrusted iron post’.
    I wonder of ‘grey’ could be left out of the second stanza as it used to denote something else in the fourth stanza, and describing a different day – yesterday – and illness.
    Could the first line of the last stanza do with the insertion of ‘to’ as in ‘just to be you’? It won’t harm the metre, but would improve the flow, as I had to double-take to get the sense.
    I enjoy the way you have used nature to analise a distinction between Happiness and Joy – as wordsmiths it is important that we know a difference.
    Very well done.
    Kevin M

  2. Starts with an interesting description of the nuthatch’s behaviour. Might we also hear something about what some of the other birds mentioned are doing?
    I agree with Kevin’s point on the two conflicting uses of the word grey. It does more in the fourth stanza. Having been ill recently, I have really missed not being able to go out and just look at the natural world around me. The comparison between the grey day at home yesterday and watching birds today said something to me.

  3. A very good example of how nature and the life of the natural world can be real antidotes to illness, or even bereavement. During both of these natural afflictions we should be encouraged and we should encourage others to get out; out to where ‘life’ goes on, regardless of the season…

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