a pitch for “Happiness” by Stuart A. Paterson

“Moonlight Camping” by Deidre Lynn (Brush and Bramble Art).
by Stuart A. Paterson

I’ve made my own Museum of
Happiness, which isn’t built of brick
or stone or wood, its walls the thickness
of the day, a flapping tongue of canvass
held in place by rope & peg to stop
it flying off & joyously away
up into everywhere in time & space.

I’ll carry it around with me to pitch
beside the sea, in a field or by
that river, a billowing rickety marquee,
a travelling show of personal delights
performing one night only & forever.

What sights! What wonders! See those things unseen
except in meanwhiles, vivid dreams,
smile, laugh & gasp & live a lifetime
somewhere in between the daily grind
of minutes into hours, be amazed
by happiness’s alchemy
transmogrifying days of certainty
to joyous, raucous aeons of impossibility.

Step right up, pay nothing, be called in
to watch the carnival of you begin,
the show to beat all shows where nothing’s
out of bounds & every good thing goes
around & comes around again, not down
or out & you’re the hottest act in town,
the permanently top display, the troupe
of you booked solid every single smiling day.

~ written for Personal Best (October 2017).

“Juggler” by Dayle Bolton.


“Camping Under a Striped Tent” by Andrea Doss

This poem had me smiling from beginning to end. Sheer delight!

I reveled in Paterson’s choice words, his artful turn of phrase, and his brilliant use of extended metaphor.

Tents are portable; they can be set up just about anywhere. Never a burden, they allow us to travel lightly through life (don’t you love “its walls the thickness of the day”?). We carry our personal museums of happiness with us wherever we go. 

“Camping in the Woods” by Joanna Karpowicz.

The notion that happiness lies within, that it’s something we can all cultivate, is certainly not new, and while I appreciate the reminder, sometimes this message can be cloaked in cliché. Not so with Paterson’s poem. An invitation to “step right up” to watch “the carnival of you begin” takes care of that. Every performance is as unique as the individual; there is no sameness or predictability, not when you’re dealing with “raucous aeons of impossibility.”

“Camping Cat” by Sara Pulver.

Stuart A. Paterson wrote “Happiness” for Personal Best (a Health and Fitness podcast), when he was BBC Scotland Poet in Residence (2017-18). He has a proven track record of initiating and encouraging engagement in creative writing in many sectors of the community – primary and secondary schools, libraries, progressing writers, mental health and wellbeing, the elderly and in the area of Scots language. He has received many awards for his poetry, including Scots Poet of the Year 2020.

I’d love to stay and juggle a few more words, but I must run (this happens when you’re the hottest act in town).


What does your Museum of Happiness look like?


The lovely and talented Heidi Mordhorst is hosting the Roundup at My Juicy Little Universe. Tap dance on over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up around the blogosphere this week. Have a great weekend!

*Copyright © 2023 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

16 thoughts on “a pitch for “Happiness” by Stuart A. Paterson

  1. Love this poem, Jama! I had to save it to read again. “every good thing goes
    around & comes around again”
    My Museum of Happiness preserves all the moments, petal-thin but always blooming.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Transmogrify would be in my museum in some shape or form, what a beautiful and evocative new word, thanks for it and the tingly-goosebump felt poem, so fun and enchanting. I love the flapping canvas, perhaps the museum would be slightly surreal, I just saw the Dali exhibit at the AIC but more like a Remedios Varo or Dorothea Tanning painting-wonderful art today too, love those colorful tents 🏕️ ☺️ thanks Jama! 🥰

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think my museum would include this poem, Jama, “the show to beat all shows”. It is a smile to beat all smiles today! I stayed a few days with students long ago on Lake Powell and while I’ve camped many other times, those days stay forever in my mind. Oh, the stars! Thanks for this poem and the lovely art, too! Happy Weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jama, thanks for sharing Paterson’s poem with us. I love the Museum of Happiness idea, and that his is not staid and static, but “the troupe of you booked solid every single smiling day”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a delight to read this special way of viewing happiness, and it seems accessible to all. How fun to think of it as flapping canvas, something we can carry with us. Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What beautiful paintings…those gorgeous night skies full of stars. A perfect setting for any museum of happiness. I need to establish mine!

    Liked by 1 person

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