“Blessed is the road that keeps us homeless.
Blessed is the mountain that blocks our way.”
This is the start to “Prayer at Winter Solstice,” a poem by Dana Gioia and included in his new book, Pity the Beautiful. On Thanksgiving, he recited it on American Public Media’s program, “Giving Thanks - A Celebration of Fall, Food and Gratitude.” My husband and I were in the car at the time, chatting but also listening along to the program of interviews and music, but then hushed up quick when Gioia started talking, particularly when he began this poem. Originally titled “Thanksgiving,” the poem is about being humble in and grateful for life, no matter what it brings. And sometimes, often even, what life brings is hard.
“Blessed is the pain that humbles us.
Blessed is the distance that bars our joy.”
You can listen to the entire interview with him and his recitation of the poem in its entirety by clicking this link to the Thanksgiving program. You’ll find a 2-hour and 1-hour program option. If you choose the 1-hour option, Gioia’s interview starts at 24:43 and the poem starts at 25:43. You’ll also hear him in the 2-hour program, but there you’re on your own to find the minute markers.
“Blessed is this shortest day that makes us long for light.
Blessed is the love that in losing we discover.”
For a review of Pity the Beautiful, see also "Redemption Songs" by Angela Alaimo O’Donnell in America magazine.