‘Melancholy’ is separate from ‘sadness.’ The concept of ‘sadness’ implies grief and a certain hopelessness, while ‘melancholy’ implies a sorrow with purpose, an emotion with which one can be swathed as if it were a shroud. Swathed – no, more like ‘swaddled’, and in that regard melancholy is comfortable, a lozenge to be masticated for a reason, a sadness that has pensive pleasure melted into it, something it’s comfortable to suckle and to be wrapped in.
Melancholy is like a silvereen sky-blanket shot through with shafts of light, like the sun after a storm; a dismal image that is nonetheless hopeful.
To be swallowed in melancholy is to immerse in conscious, intentional unhappiness, the sort that, perversely, makes one happier. Depression is numbness, and melancholy is a comet-trail purity of feeling to be grasped like a stellar ribbon, tied around a moment, burning it bright into something fleeting and directionless but no less purposeless for that fact. Melancholy is as formless and rare as a pale nebula-cloud against the backdrop of infinity; it wants to be held, against all of the laws of physics.
The slender hairline between melancholy and all other feelings is impossibly personal, highly subjective, but as a rule it can be identified by its romantic beauty, and by the fact that despite its void of purpose, its emptiness of reasoned direction, it is anything but empty.