On Melancholy

1 / Melancholy does not smother, it coats.

Like those strange London summers

when the cars were covered in a thin layer of volcanic ash

carried down from an eruption in Iceland

or when the lenses of our sunglasses caught a light dusting of red sand

swept up from the storm in the Sahara,

melancholy merely powders your skin, it doesn’t permeate it.

(Having said that, it is not always easy to wash it all off).


2 / To me, melancholy equates to honesty.

I am right to feel this way — have you looked at the world today?

‘Happy’ just seems silly — how could you possibly be?

Melancholy is peaceful, quiet, contemplative

lighter than depression, it’s a pure and pale sadness

a comfortable cloak that you can remove

that doesn’t totally destroy your mood

not requiring drugs

or therapy

not in the abject


is easier to accept

after a little time

and space

and thought

and in retrospect,

it almost always makes sense.


2.5 / Making Sense Of Melancholy

Theory One: There is an identifiable cause of your feeling of sadness. There may be an obvious reason (e.g You have just watched the horrors on the 10 o’clock news), or the reason may be more general, usually related to feelings of missing, wanting, grieving, loneliness, or remembering. Whatever the cause, whether overt or abstract, if you think about it logically you can most likely pinpoint the source of your sadness. [Top tip: Nostalgia often evokes melancholy. Beware your memories!]

Theory Two: When someone in the world dies alone, with no one to mourn them or miss them, the sadness that should be felt about their death gets randomly assigned to any human being on earth that has the capacity for feeling. Unfortunately, that random human is you. This may be an explanation for lypophrenia (a vague feeling of sadness seemingly without a cause). Try to embrace your sadness and learn from it — melancholy may not be pleasant but it is both healthy and necessary and, perhaps most importantly, temporary.


3 / The flowers are dull

but you can see them.

The traffic is loud

but you can hear it.

The coffee is bitter

but you can taste it.

Ah, Melancholy.

She’ll leave when she wants /

she’ll leave when you’re ready.


4 / Melancholy is meant to be fleeting

but for some souls the sadness isn’t temporary.

Be grateful for your return to normalcy

(whatever that may mean)

and when you recognise somebody/anybody

wearing that cloak of melancholy

be gentle, be patient, be kind,

and show a little empathy.

Originally published at Free Verse Revolution herein response to the theme ‘melancholy.’


  1. You are so observant and wise and you convey everything you think and see to writing that moves me to comment x

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