Bliss is Equal Parts Joy and Woe

A page from scan of book containing a series o...

Songs of Innocence and Experience by poet and painter, William Blake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I read many blogs and believe that I am the wiser for it. The other day I ran across a blog called Joy and Woe, and found the explanation for the title intriguing. Jeni  of Joy and Woe is a fellow Canadian, and she said she chose the title for her blog from William Blake’s poem “Augeries of Innocence.” Here is an excerpt from the poem that includes her blog’s moniker:

All is right it should be so:
Man was made for Joy and Woe;
And when this we rightly know
Thro’ the World we safely go.

I love the simple yet sage wisdom in those words. Once we accept that we are destined for both joy and woe, and that in equal parts they are what make the world go round, then we can make our peace with the ways of life.

Is life fair? A tiresome question. Sometimes it is too fair, sometimes not fair enough—admit it, you have been on both ends of the spectrum of fairness. Life is not objective, impartial, non-discriminatory or fair. But sometimes it is.

Joy and Woe: they sum up life quite nicely. Coming to an understanding of these two elements gives me some bliss.

Do you find that life is made up of joy and woe—would we know bliss if we did not have a little woe in order to measure joy?

Published in: on February 24, 2013 at 11:11 am  Comments (59)  
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  1. Wise words indeed, if we have no woe how can we know what joy is?

    • my point exactly–though I could use a little less woe–about 25% woe and 75% joy?

  2. Have had a lot of both…and your last statement pretty well sums it up…Diane

    • thanks Diane–I have had a little more woe lately–I am ready to enjoy the joy part

  3. I do agree. Without either our lives would plateau. The ups make the downs bearable and the woes are mitigated by the joys. Some woes seem unbearable but trying to remember the joys can help one to get through those times. There can’t be many of us who have not experienced both.

    All the best to you 🙂

  4. I agree ~ we need woe to realize how amazing JOY is!

  5. It’s what one teacher called the pairs of opposites. Flip sides of the same coin. 😉 xoxoM

  6. Like everyone else is commenting, the woes just make the joys all that more meaningful! Life can’t be perfect – nothing is, so we should just try to make sure that the joys outweigh the woes :).

  7. Yes, I love this rhyme, and it’s so true. The ups and downs of life are what makes the journey so interesting.

  8. Or to quote Isaac Newton, “What goes up, must come down.”

  9. I love that poem, so jauntily written somehow witty. So simple to understand too, life has good and bad times but it is all life and knowing this makes it easy to live with.

    I think I have a new favorite poem.

    Adieu, scribbler

  10. From a religious point of view – “For it must needs be that there is opposition in all things.” if not so, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.”
    Were it not that evil exists with good, man could not have been an agent unto himself.”
    This is a quote from Brigham Young. CS Lewis also gave many sermons on the topic of opposition in all things.
    It makes sense to me. look at the story of Adam and Eve – if Eve had not partaken of the fruit the two of them would still be in the garden!

    • and labour would not have been so bad for women – never forgiven Eve for that –
      I love the insights you always provide — I always learn so much from you

  11. haha! You’re so right.
    I actually feel the same way about you. I just have these random thoughts and feelings — it’s your clever posts and questions that are the catalyst and help make sense of my non-sense. LOL! Thank you for saying that, LouAnn – you’re kind. 🙂

    • I am not being kind — I truly do learn a lot from you and admire how you seem to be handling things–I too am going through a rough time for different reasons, and seeing how you are handling your tough stuff has helped me

  12. I believe, and have believed for a long time, that we don’t recognize the joy if we haven’t experienced the woe. The absolute bliss of getting to prop my bare feet on my warm dog as she sleeps under my desk would not be as blissful if I didn’t have cold and lonely feet memories.

    • that is so adorable–and a nice way to explain the difference between joy and woe
      personally I have had enough woe to make me appreciate joy for the rest of my life

      • Hear, hear!

  13. Both are very important and I am learning how to be more accepting of woe.

  14. One feels deep relief reading these words. We don’t want to woe–we push it away so often–and yet it’s part of life. So many of the wise sages say that deep realization means that we embrace both parts of the equation and cease to push any woe away. Thanks for this post!

    • thanks for you illumination of this post- I guess we have to take woe on and accept it as part of life

  15. Ah, the age old question of life! Why is it not fair? I’m often troubled by the inequities I see around me…but I have to agree that some of my greatest joys have flowed from times of greatest distress. It helps me to appreciate the good and weather the bad when I remind myself that neither will last. Whatever we experience today, it’s just one of the seasons of life, and all things change, until the end. ~ Sheila

    • true — I am ready for a few things to not last, but on the whole you are so right

  16. One of my favorite quotes, especially this time of year, is from Anne Bradstreet “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant” We must have the lows and the trying moments to know when we have found our bliss to use your word. I wouldn’t want average days all the time or all joy it would get tiring. I thought I wanted all sun and warm weather, but living for a few years in Arizona I missed spring and fall and realized we can’t have what we want all the time.

    • that is a realization we must all come to – I think I would miss the seasons too-especially because fall and spring (in that order) are my favourite times of year

  17. Without woe, what do we have to compare joy with? It will not exist, one without the other 🙂
    Two sides of the same coin…


  18. I think I would like a little less woe at times, but then I think maybe it has been what has shaped my personality and sense of humour.

    And the joy parts have been pretty darn good in comparison to the woe parts.

    • then it worked – you have a great sense of humour–glad the joy parts are worth the woe parts

  19. First, thank you so much for leaving such a lovely comment at my blog. As to your question… it’s never equal, yet it’s so true, and I’ll add this as well: If I had not experienced that kind of woe in my childhood (semi-parenting my mom, abused by my dad, then off to California to self-medicate for two years), I don’t think I’d be writing today. My joy is birthed directly FROM that woe. How wonderful is that? But then again, I’m manic-depressive, so there’s that side of it… Peace, Amy

    • would you say manic depressive is joy and woe over-personified? I had a good firend who was bipolar (is this the same?) –we lost her last year but she was a wonderfully spirited girl/woman whom we learned a lot from–she was in my writiers’s group

  20. Joy and woe is another way of saying life has its ups and downs! It is just more poetic.

  21. I actually find the written version of the poem almost bordering on cheesy, but I heard it read aloud once on the radio and was struck by the strength of some of the phrases. These two passages in particular still give me chills:

    Joy and woe are woven fine,
    A clothing for the soul divine.
    Under every grief and pine
    Runs a joy with silken twine.

    Every night and every morn
    Some to misery are born.
    Every morn and every night
    Some are born to sweet delight.
    Some are born to sweet delight,
    Some are born to endless night.

    Ah, I read those and think that no blog — at least not one written by me — could every do its themes justice.

  22. I remember a few years back, I was wishing my life could be more “interesting.” Once it did, I longed for the days I had nothing better to do than sit at home in peace. Eventually, life returned to normal but like you said, that bit of woe made me realize how joyful my life was in its very un-interestingness. 🙂

    • we want interesting good, not interesting almost lose your shirt–boring can be good sometimes

  23. Personally, I’d like to try some joy without woe for about a year. Then just little woes after that. I’ve had enough woes to last me for that year. And then some. And then some more.

    • me too — I could do without woe for the rest of my life and appreciate the joys–I have had my share of woe and somebody else’s (that is really not true–everyone has their bag of woes)

  24. Wait, there’s supposed to be joy? Someone has some explaining to do. Kidding aside, I think a life full of just joy would actually be depressing since you wouldn’t know better.

    • I know, joy has been playing hide and seek with me lately and is hiding a little bit too well
      Like you tongue in cheek response–but it feels like that sometimes doesn’t it?

  25. yes indeed LouAnn, fair schmair….life aint and move on. The trick is to enjoy the moments that come our way and are grand…however fleeting they are. The bliss in a moment can carry us through the valley of the shadows.

  26. Gee LouAnn must you always pose such profund questions with someone that has gone past the expiration on the that can of gray matter? I would If I could write a book about my daughter’s life. She has had more than her share of woe but also lots of bliss before her injuries and now is in a deelp state of despair..She texted me that she is miserable all the time and terrified of the disease that sonsumes her every waking moment. As for me i suppose I have had my share of happiness and woe,I felt more bliss growing up than I do now, My life as been far from bed of roses, I will fele bliss again when Lisa is at least 50% better,

    ~ yvonne ~

    • Here is hoping Lisa reaches a comfort level that she can at least enjoy life a bit – being sick or having a disease is an awful thing, and I keep having to remind myself how lucky I am that I am healthy, and that it may not always be so
      -it is so hard for a mom to have a sick child–I am sorry (hugs)

      • Thank you. I appreciate your hugs and kind remarks. It is the same for me. Even at my age I am thus far blessed and grateful that my health is far better than most people in my age group.

      • And that is truly something to be thankful for

  27. If we didn’t know sorrow, we wouldn’t know joy. If we didn’t know sadness, we wouldn’t know happiness. Everything needs its polar opposite in order to exist. Without out it, there would only be one state of being and frankly, that would make for a bunch of shallow, unappreciative, boring people. The most amazing people that I have ever met have been the ones that have been to hell and back.

    • and that takes in a lot of people- I agree that being one note would be boring and we need opposites to really appreciate and live life

  28. the woes make the joy all the sweeter. and the joy makes the woes easier to bear with grace,

  29. […] Bliss is Equal Parts Joy and Woe ( […]

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