Joy costs nothing. It cannot be taxed and the Government has no control over it. It is so valuable that if they could tax it they would at the highest level. There is not much of it around at present. But I often encounter it when I walk up the Main Street as I call it. There are certain people all along that street full of positive joy. Sometimes it is the poor, the moderately poor and those who are getting along with life that spread some laughter. Those with their minds only upon money are tight
of face and of purse. It is not a country of joy at present and it is not a country for young men, old men, young women and old women. As Shakespeare wrote of men with tight faces.
Let me have men about men that are fat;
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o' nights:
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.
Shakespeare has the last word on everything. He remains a mystery to me. I know everything that is to be known about his life and like all others I know nothing. How could a young lad from Stratford Upon Avon write the greatest plays ever known to man. How did this man seem to encompass every feeling that humans experience. As Matthew Arnold wrote:
Others abide our question. Thou art free.
We ask and ask: Thou smilest and art still,
Out-topping knowledge. For the loftiest hill
That to the stars uncrowns his majesty,
Planting his steadfast footsteps in the sea,
Making the Heaven of Heavens his dwelling-place,
Spares but the cloudy border of his base
To the foil"d searching of mortality.
Life is worth living and if it is not lived with joy then life is only half a life. Outside the Government, the bankers and the spindoctors, we have a lot to be happy about in this country. For the moment we have not been devastated by earthquakes, storms, torrential downfalls and the change of climate has been in our favour. China and Pakistan are so devastated that one country cannot cope with it and the other country can barely cope.
There is little to be joyous about when your home and crop has been swept away and the lands upon which your farm stood is underneath vast expanses of water. So despite the Government, the bankers and builders and those who supped from the cauldron of plenty during the best of times and are still doing so, we do our best to carry some joy into our lives. And many, despite everything, are joyous.
The thinkers tell me that joy is close to happiness but not exactly the same. I do not have the refined mind to make a difference between the two.
Now many of those who have defined the words have not been happy at all.
If you ever examine the details of the Book of Kells you will see little men tangled together. Now for many years people thought that it was just an argument until someone discovered that when the monks met they danced with joy. There is a great sense of joy and exuberance in this the most beautiful book in the world. It should be called the Book of Iona because it was written there.
Beethoven had hair growing on the back of his hands. Not a lot of people know that. Sibelius travelled to Vienna to meet an old man who remembered Beethoven and that was all the old man could remember of the great composer.
He was deaf when he conducted the Ninth Symphony and he never heard the words of the last movement. The words had been written by Shiller. Here then is the German and the English of some of that great Ode to Joy.
An Die Freude - Ode to Joy
O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!
Sondern laßt uns angenehmere anstimmen,
Freude! (men's chorus: Freude!)
Freude! (chorus again: Freude!)
Oh friends, not these tones!
Rather, let us raise our voices in more pleasing
And more joyful sounds!
We are in a mess at present. The Government cannot bring us any joy and we are tired of their misery. Bertie Ahern maintains that he did not know that anything was happening during his watch. Why was he there if he was not watching? His voice does not ring of the truth. While Ireland burned he fiddled and so did many others.
So seek joy where you can. It has not as yet been taxed by the Government. They may tax laughter but they cannot tax joy.