‘Pursuit of Happyness’ by Azola Dayile | a review #InMyHumbleOpinion

Pursuit of Happyness
I have spent countless hours
At church,
Pubs
And strip clubs.
With pastors,
Prostitutes
And drunkards.
In pursuit of happynes,
The truth
And fleshy desires.
Sang happy songs with Hedonists
Travelled with Nomads,
Got high with Rastas
And broke bread with Pariahs.
Camped on bended knees around
hell-like fires
To listen attentively to grown men
liars.

Slaughtered sheep,
Goats
And cows
For this little bit of sanity
And crowded peace of mind,
But my hands are smeared with
blood
And the dark cloud still looms
closely behind
Where the hell is this love?
I only know hearts for pumping
blood.
Not as an asylum for
Said feeling you people cannot
even describe.

And do you remember
When god said “let there be light!”?
I was unfortunate
And cast out
To write this poem
With my tongue in this grim dark
I am convinced collecting empty
beer bottles
and picking bread crumbs is my
birth right.
I am still in hot pursuit
And the journey now leads me
To a mad house.

Review:

We journey with the speaker through multiple contexts, tracing for a seemingly fleeting and insatiable feeling of contentment through discovery, trial-and-error and experimentation. In the many cultural and social spaces, we are introduced to: “Church / Pubs/…strip clubs” for which are institutions to cater to human needs in varying ways. A sense of seeking a ‘home’, the longing of a person wanting to belong in a set society could be interpreted as the message of this poem. A place of refuge, whether physical or otherwise, is sought and is never found. The unattainable asylum has been searched for within the confines of organized religion and in areas of ‘profanity’, and neither house the happiness the speaker wants. It appears that the search is for inner peace is pursued outwardly, and it is because of this that it is never attained. Furthermore, want can understand the subject not to be an individual but the personification of a place, that is ‘home’ to churches, pubs and strip clubs, but still has citizens who are not happy, a place where poverty exists even in the presence of church, pubs and strip clubs, institutions were money is found in abundance.
In wanting to make sense of the world, find comfort, balance and peace, and meeting the demands of life, all the while having faith and hope that a connection to the world will be made somehow. Church offers to fill the spiritual void of humans, pubs hope to pump gallons of socialisation down the throats of its regulars, a ‘holed-liver’ of fun, while strip clubs seek to fulfil the “fleshly desires” of our Hedonist core as humans, all contributing to the wholesome human experience. With pubs being a platform for the social activity of drinking alcohol, we see this as an escape from the negative feelings, the chemical-imbalance causing beverage tends to remove the anxiety and stress. Also, in South Africa, drinking is a social norm, if fact one of the leading nations in consuming alcohol, furthermore if we examine the black community, particularly, this is customary. It is a behavioural expectation to as the speaker attempts to be one ‘fit in’ with his contemporaries, and not be relegated to the margins as nomads are, as gypsies are, as Rastafarians are, all minorities made ‘pariahs’ of society.
We get an idea that the state of mind of the speaker is deeply troubled and unsettled, perpetually anxious and stressed from his unending quest for ‘the truth’, that alludes him, and he cannot even receive it from the elders as they are deceptive – “grown men liars” in the first stanza. “For this little bit of sanity /And crowded peace of mind” of stanza 2 continues this image of mental instability. An “asylum” is mentioned in this stanza as well, an institution that provides care and protection to needy individuals, such as the infirm and destitute. It is a sanctuary, away from profanation and violation. Both physically and psychologically. It is a homely setting. Here one enjoys liberty from what is required by society and law for and from most people. It would appear that not even the feeling of love, “what the hell is this love”, can save the speaker from feeling like an outsider. He dismisses ‘love’ as “said feelings people cannot even describe”, an abstract concept that people do not comprehend therefore cannot practise. Stanza 3 sees the speaker reaching his destination, “And the journey now leads me/ To a mad house”. He has resigned his fate to insanity. Here he can find serenity. Ironically, he can feel a sense of connection to the world once removed from it. His spiritual transcendence, like prayer or meditation is his soloism. Isolation from the madness of life, and its many demands.
The intertextuality is rife herein, borrowing a number of images from the ‘Holy Bible’ to fit his spiritually rich poem and references. The first stanza’s chaos and the sliding scale from extreme holiness to extreme profanity, the polar opposites that are presented in closeness show how samey we are in our differences. We are united in our separateness. “Let there be light” from the Book of Genesis, Chapter 1, verse 3, represents the void, the darkness ceasing, the birth of something from nothing. The light here is not literal. The light of the world is man, as in ‘human being’. Human being who has dominion on all that happens on earth. The abject poverty presented in “picking up bread crumbs”, is a human construct, the great ill of neo-liberal capitalism, a zero-sum game that sees individuals with billions while some go without bread each day. As some would collect “empty beer bottles” to sell as to make money, to buy basics like bread, for example. This could also be a critique of the movie, “The Pursuit of Happyness”, the title of this poem, where the protagonist seeks for fulfilment in the material world. We can deduce that the speaker establishes his pursuit of happiness in the world outside of worldly things is of higher moral ground, or, that the for any community, more than money, we need to find spiritual fulfilment, or risk something of the most high value, our peace of mind – sanity.

– nublaccsoul #InMyHumbleOpinion

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Author: NuBlaccSoul

...writings & the other things

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