December 29, 2017

Poetry Friday--Heading into 2018


Photo of Ella Wheeler Wilcox from Poems of Reflection, 1905.

This year can't be finished fast enough for me. I pray that 2018 will be better than 2017 has been, but I have my doubts.
The Year
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That’s not been said a thousand times?

The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.

We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.

We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.

We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.

We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that’s the burden of the year.

The above poem matches my mood. I used to say I was an eternal optimist, but much of that has been beaten out of me by the events of the past year. Ella Wheeler Wilcox, too, seems to have been of two minds. She also wrote a poem titled, "Optimism."
Optimism

I'm no reformer; for I see more light
Than darkness in the world; mine eyes are quick
To catch the first dim radiance of the dawn,
And slow to note the cloud that threatens storm.
The fragrance and the beauty of the rose
Delight me so, slight thought I give its thorn;
And the sweet music of the lark's clear song
Stays longer with me than the night hawk's cry.
And e'en in this great throe of pain called Life,
I find a rapture linked with each despair,
Well worth the price of Anguish. I detect
More good than evil in humanity.
Love lights more fires than hate extinguishes,
And men grow better as the world grows old.

Both poems are from Poetical Works of Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1917.

Which poem reflected the "real" Ella? (I may have to read The Story of a Literary Career by the poet to look for clues.)

Please stop by My Juicy Little Universe where Heidi is rounding up today's poetic offerings. Here's to a 2018 where we will see "More good than evil in humanity."



29 comments:

  1. I hope this year is better for you, Diane! I like these poems. I don't know this poet. I like her back and forth. It reminds me a bit of the saying, Biblical, I think, "when I am weak, then am I strong."

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    1. She was very popular in her time and wrote gazillions of rhyming poems. I guess the reason she isn't better known today is that most of her work isn't particularly good. Some of it, though, is relevant today.

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  2. Maybe these poems aren't contradictory, Diane? The first says that the year contains multitudes, and the second says that she thinks there's more light than dark. It seems like both things can be true. (I'll give you that the past year had a heaping helping of dark...)

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    1. You're probably right, Tabatha. It strikes me as more of a "life sucks and then you die" type of poem, which, I'm sure, wasn't her intent in writing it. ;-)

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  3. Hi Diane,
    Thanks for sharing Ella Wheeler Wilcox. I'd never read her but relate to both her optimism and her fear the later of which does no good. What ever 2018 brings, I wish you the best of the new year.

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    1. Many thanks, Janice! Happy writing in 2018!

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  4. Alas, I think many of us will be leaving 2017 feeling emotionally bruised and spiritually battered. But I have to cling to the hope that "Love lights more fires than hate extinguishes", and that 2018 will bring more love than hate.

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    1. It is 9 degrees here right now, so I'd welcome a love fire, or any fire for that matter!

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  5. Well, I am happy to meet Ms. Eliza Wheeler here on your page. I suspect you and the rest of us are somewhere between her two poems. And, we have an important job to do. We are witnesses of all. We must record and show the future that this time had some merit....even if it was in pushing back against the official order. Take care for a Happy New Year. I wish you many, many beautiful words.

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    1. I've stood witness many times over the years, from the anti-Vietnam marches, to the anti-Iraq marches, to 2017's Women's march and the march for science. I'm in it for the long haul. Glad you're standing with me!

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  6. Thanks for introducing me to Ella Wilcox. I enjoyed the contrast between the poems and like to think that her optimism is justified, though that can be a difficult outlook to maintain these days. Here's hoping that 2018 offers a year that sparks optimism and love-lit fires!

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    1. "The Year" was published in 1916, right before the US got into WW I (April 1917). I'll bet she felt obligated to put an optimist's spin on things.

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  7. Onward to 2018. I try (really trying!) to find comfort and strength in knowing so many of us share the same thoughts, fears, hopes, and dreams. It is a challenge, I know. Wishing you a poetry-filled new year!

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    1. Christie, I just replied and it disappeared! So, once again, let me wish you a great 2018!

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  8. It seems to me that Ella is trying to convince herself as much as others that she is optimistic. That is where I find myself, like Scarlett, thinking that tomorrow will be a better day. We must remain hopeful and diligent.

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    1. As I just commented above, "The Year" was published in the midst of WW I, just prior to the US declaring war on Germany. I'll bet a lot of people were trying to convince themselves to be optimistic.

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  9. While Ella brings the reality of the year to light, I hope that 2018 will not be a burden to you, Diane. I have decided that hope will be my one word to guide my 2018 journey. I hope that your path is filled with wonderfilled happenings and joys.

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    1. I'm a fan of "wonder," so thanks for that wish, Carol!

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  10. It has been a tough year, but I still land on the side of optimism. Even through these dark days, lights do shine. I see it in the people who have risen up to call, email and vote to make their voices heard. I hope that we will continue through the new year.

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    1. I believe the people will be rising even further in 2018. Higher than the forces of power and greed. Count on it!

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  11. There is truth in both Ella's poems. I like this line from her optimistic one: "Love lights more fires than hate extinguishes." A Happy 2018 to you, Diane.

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    1. Yes, that one really stands out, and I believe I've come across it as a "famous quotation" more than once.

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  12. I thought I knew this poet, and looked for her poems, learned about her so long ago in high school "Laugh and the world laughs with you; weep and you weep alone" and on. I enjoyed these, especially "slight thought I give its thorn". I still look for hope, though it's been a hard, hard shock of a year, as you say. 2018 will be a turn I hope! Thanks, Diane.

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    1. Thanks, Linda, for being a sounding board! We will prevail.

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  13. I think her poems reflect the moods of a lot of us, Diane...2017 may have had its low points, but I personally had some rather high ones (hint, hint), so I can't complain!

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  14. If the fire is still in the belly of many of us–then we are coming out ready again to tackle what 2018 will bring. I like how Ella Wheeler Wilcox closes her second poem,
    "Love lights more fires than hate extinguishes,
    And men grow better as the world grows old."

    This last line would take a huge transformation, but I'm open to any kind of miracle–we had one in Alabama–maybe we'll have another.

    Here's to many more poems in 2018 whatever form they take, and a Happy New Year to you Diane!

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  15. These are wonderful--I'd forgotten that first one and didn't know the second, but many of us are in that same boat with Ella--which is the true self? Wishing you brightness in dark corners all year...

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  16. "We hug the world until it stings"

    At first I read "stings" as "sings." I guess it's true either way--we've got to keep hugging this world no matter what!

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  17. I luv luv this line from 'Optimism'
    "Love lights more fires than hate extinguishes,"

    Happy Year end Diane, A wishes for a Bright And Prosperous 2018

    much love...

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