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Sudden Blaze

My fiftieth year had come and gone,
  I sat, a solitary man,
  In a crowded London shop,
  An open book and empty cup
  On the marble table-top.
  While on the shop and street I gazed
  My body of a sudden blazed;
  And twenty minutes more or less
  It seemed, so great my happiness,
  That I was blessed and could bless.

Yeats, Vacillation

The great poet begins with perhaps the tantamount question, “What is joy?” The poem is titled after a feeling of indecision, a vacillation of speech and action. Yet, the excerpt I’ve quoted suggests that joy is a gift, an out-of-body experience that comes unbidden yet miraculously received. Do you know this “sudden blaze” which Yeats describes?

Side note: I was joking with one of Ginny’s students, who majors in German, that our son is learning that language because he tends to pronounce his “w’s” like a “v.” For instance, he likes to go for a ride in his red “vagon.”


We’ve been worried about Sam, not only because his leg is now in a cast but also that he wouldn’t be able to sleep. The other afternoon, I came home for lunch right about the time our caregiver was putting him down. I listened with my ear to the door until he quieted. Thinking he was asleep, I began to tip-toe away. Then, I heard him giggle.

“Vow,” he said clearly. “Vow, vow, vow!”

It seemed, so great my happiness,
That I was blessed and could bless.

About Andrew Taylor-Troutman

I am a pastor and a preacher, a writer, a husband and a father. My professional and personal lives are deeply involved with story-telling: stories that are silly and poignant or profound and commonplace. Stories that are tear-jerkers and belly-shakers. Stories about my son, Sam, and the congregation I serve, New Dublin Presbyterian Church. Each in its own way, these personal narratives shed light on the great story that God is writing with humankind and all of creation.


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