Please help me ID this poem: Do not fall in love with sadness
December 17, 2022 2:28 PM   Subscribe

I have some lines from a poem in my head that I'm trying to identify. It's probably really well known, but Google isn't coming up with anything, so I'm hoping someone can help.

I read it about 25 years ago, but it's probably older than that - it feels vaguely reminiscent of Auden from what I can remember. I have two lines in my head and I think they are both from the same poem, but googling them, alone or together, is getting me nothing:

- My artist friends, do not fall in love with sadness.
- They made me silent, the way my parents' failures did. No-one's business but our own.

posted by Laura_J to Writing & Language (2 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Sadness by Stephen Dunn

It was everywhere, in the streets and houses,
on farms and now in the air itself.
It had come from history and we were history
so it had come from us.
I told my artist friends who courted it
not to suffer
on purpose, not to fall in love
with sadness
because it would naturally be theirs
without assistance,
I had sad stories of my own,
but they made me quiet
the way my parents' failures once did,
nobody's business
but our own, and, besides, what was left to say
these days
when the unspeakable was out there being spoken,
exhausting all sympathy?
Yet, feeling it, how difficult to keep
the face's curtains
closed - she left, he left, they died -
the heart rising
into the mouth and eyes, everything so basic,
so unhistorical
at such times. And then, too, the woes
of others would get in,
but mostly I was inured and out
to make a decent buck
or in pursuit of some slippery pleasure
that was sadness disguised.
I found it, it found me, oh
my artist friends
give it up, just mix your paints,
the strokes unmistakably will be yours.
posted by lapis at 2:46 PM on December 17, 2022 [38 favorites]

Response by poster: Yes! Thank you
posted by Laura_J at 2:57 PM on December 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

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