Men, Women, And Happiness

Men, Women and Happiness Cropped

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!


Men, Women and Happiness Cropped© Mary Lou Quinn

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 –
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.


The Eternal Sea
Image by Pixabay