Llewelyn Powys on Natural Happiness

Llewelyn Powys

Llewelyn Powys (1884 – 1939) was a British essayist, novelist and younger brother of John Cowper Powys. Nowdays unfortunately he seems forgotten as majority of his books are out of print.

After being diagnosed with tuberculosis, he spent long periods in Dorset, a county on the English Channel coast. What could be found in majority of his writings is sheer appreciation of life, nature and praises of what could be called of “natural happiness”.

Bellow are some highlights from his book of essays Earth Memories (1935).

Until we are satisfied with the plain miracle of life, with the plain miracle of what is, and make no further clamour, we will remain restless, froward, dissatisfied. True religion consists in a simple worship of life without stipulations.

Half the ethical rules they din into our ears are designed to keep us at work.

Merely to be alive should be sufficient reason for happiness.

Nothing is more lamentable than to see number of lives sacrificed, utterly wasted, in the Western world today – each worker with his own preoccupation walking forward to the grave as though drugged. our education is directed towards this end. We must learn how to be successful; he whose coffers are most full is most highly extolled… We should be thought to be expert in love making. We should come from our schools fortified against mischance, knowing that nothing matters as long as we remain healthy and alive.

… for what is truth? Nothing more sure than an inspired momentary glimpse of eternity vouchsafed to mortals between birth and dusty death.

Life itself is but a many-coloured circus developing from sock to sock under the surveillance of the moon, and whether our heels be feathered or leaden it is to the cold grave that they carry us. “Ripeness is all.”

It is the stupidity of our minds that prevents us from seeing existence as a mystery wilder than the dream of Devil or God. We stand before the life of the throne of life sullen and dull. So blunt is the apprehension of most of us that we are content to spend our priceless and peculiar hours in a state of anaesthesia put upon us by a fatal herd hypnotism. Oh for a conversion, for a revelation to break up for ever our trivial visions!

Life is its own justification. There is no other aim to it, no other meaning, no other purpose, and if we think otherwise, we are foolish. Let us truth be spoken. Each one of us, each intellectual soul among us, advances steadily and surely towards the grave… The secret to be remembered is that nothing matters, nothing but the momentary consciousness of each individual as he opens his eyes upon as spectacle that knows nought of ethics.

Merely to have consciousness at all constitutes an inestimable privilege. The past is nothing, the future is nothing, the eternal now alone is the moment. This is understood well enough by every living creature but man.

Yesterday I was awake early and watched the dawn come up across the cold fields. The light spread itself over the downs with impatience. First the hedges become visible, then small birds passed by me in dusky succession, then I saw a rat with the hairless tail returning to its hole. Far away over the roosting ledges the hungry gulls were audibly clamouring for their meat. During those timeless moments I saw the earth with its creature life unmindful of the fretful presence of man. It was suddenly apparent, beyond all dispute, that the whole human riot, with its religions, its political cozenage, its compassion, was without any kind of transcendental surveillance, without any kind of significance other than the passionate worship, carnal and poetic, of the glory of life.

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