Soul of Darkness

It has been observed, and often with comedic effect, that when people are depressed they seldom turn to cheerful music to brighten their mood. On the contrary, they set their iPod to ‘repeat’ and play the saddest songs they can think of. Some regard this as being sulky, nurturing a mopey disposition simply to prolong it for its own sake. Indeed, this is occasionally the result of this course of action, but it is not the original intent.

In the poem My Soul is Dark, Lord Byron looks to music to soothe his “heavy heart.” Like our modern dispirited individuals, it is not happy music to which Byron turns:  “Nor let thy notes of joy be first.” He does not need music that is contrary to his current disposition to turn him around, rather, he needs music that will lead him through his current dejection. Only after he has plumbed the depths of his internal darkness, can he finally return to the light. Until then, the repeat button will stay on and the Elliott Smith play-count will rise.

Beer of the Week: Coopers Best Extra Stout – If this beer had existed at the turn of the 18th century, the title of Byron’s poem may well have been My Soul is Dark as a Coopers Extra Stout. It is the darkest beer I have ever seen. I am not even sure that I can say that I have actually “seen” it since I am not sure that any light actually escaped it as I held my glass to the light. The head was a beautiful dark bronze. The flavor was much as one would expect from a beer so dark. The roasted malt carried the flavor, with some coffee notes and a pretty sweet finish. The mouth-feel was also great, silky smooth but not thick. All in all, Coopers Best is a really, really good beer.

Reading of the week: My Soul is Dark by George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron – In 16 lines of poetry, Lord Byron expresses beautifully the connection that the melancholy soul feels for sad music:  one’s heart must “break at once—or yield to song.”

Question of the week: Although experience seems to support the idea that embracing sadness allows people to work through it, experience also supports the idea that dwelling on negative feelings makes them stick around. (See What is an Emotion?) Is it probable that some middle-ground is the ideal?

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