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Brighten The Corner Where You Are

~ Helen Steiner Rice ~

We cannot all be famous
Or be listed in “Who’s Who,”
But every person, great or small,
Has important work to do.

For seldom do we realize
The importance of small deeds,
Or to what degree of greatness
Unnoticed kindness leads.

For it’s not the big celebrity
In a world of fame and praise,
But it’s doing unpretentiously
In an undistinguished way.

The work that God assigned to us,
Unimportant as it seems,
That makes our task outstanding,
And brings reality to dreams.

So do not sit and idly wish
For wider, new dimensions
where you can put into practice,
Your many good intentions.

But at the spot God placed you
Begin at once to do,
Little things to brighten up
The lives surrounding you.

If everybody brightened up
The spot where their standing,
By being more considerate,
And a little less demanding.

This dark old world would very soon
Eclipse the evening star,
If everybody brightened up
The corner where they are!

 

in honor of Moms

My mother was born in the month of August, 1937, and died in the month of August, 1981.  I pray that with the help of our heavenly Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, we shall meet again in heaven.

 

There is nothing in life quite like the unconditional love of a mother.

 

This is the first poem I remember; it is the one my Mom shared with me when I was young. 

 

 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

from Sonnets from the Portuguese

XLIII

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
    I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
    My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
    For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
    I love thee to the level of everyday’s
    Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
    I love thee freely, as men might strive for Right;
    I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
    I love thee with the passion put to use
    In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
    I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
    With my lost saints,–I love thee with the breath,
    Smiles, tears, of all my life!–and, if God choose,
    I shall but love thee better after death.

 

“With closest custody guard your heart, for in it are the sources of life.  Put away from you dishonest talk, deceitful speech put far from you.  Let your eyes look straight ahead and your glance be directly forward.  Survey the path for your feet, and let all your ways be sure.  Turn neither to right nor to left, keep your foot far from evil.”  Proverbs 4:23-27

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

            A PSALM OF LIFE

      WHAT THE HEART OF THE YOUNG MAN
                    SAID TO THE PSALMIST

    TELL me not, in mournful numbers,
        Life is but an empty dream ! —
    For the soul is dead that slumbers,
        And things are not what they seem.

    Life is real !   Life is earnest!
        And the grave is not its goal ;
    Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
        Was not spoken of the soul.

    Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
        Is our destined end or way ;
    But to act, that each to-morrow
        Find us farther than to-day.

    Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
        And our hearts, though stout and brave,
    Still, like muffled drums, are beating
        Funeral marches to the grave.

    In the world’s broad field of battle,
        In the bivouac of Life,
    Be not like dumb, driven cattle !
        Be a hero in the strife !

    Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant !
        Let the dead Past bury its dead !
    Act,— act in the living Present !
        Heart within, and God o’erhead !

    Lives of great men all remind us
        We can make our lives sublime,
    And, departing, leave behind us
        Footprints on the sands of time ;

    Footprints, that perhaps another,
        Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
    A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
        Seeing, shall take heart again.

    Let us, then, be up and doing,
        With a heart for any fate ;
    Still achieving, still pursuing,
        Learn to labor and to wait.

 

 

 Our hope remains in the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit…

“Fear of the Lord leaves nothing wanting; he who has it seek no other support: the fear of God is a paradise of blessings; it’s canopy, all that is glorious.”  Sirach 40: 26-27

 

Hope  

by Emily Dickinson   

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Dickinson defines hope with a metaphor, comparing it to a bird.

Stanza one

Hope is a “thing” because it is a feeling; the thing/feeling is like a bird. Dickinson uses the standard dictionary format for a definition; first she placed the word in a general category (“thing”), and then she differentiated it from everything else in that category. For instance, the definition of a cat would run something like this: a cat is a mammal (the first part of the definition places it in a category); the rest of the definition would be “which is nocturnal, fur-bearing, hunts at night, has pointed ears, etc. (the second part of the definition differentiates the cat from other all mammals).

Why does the bird “perch” in the soul? How would hope “perch,” and why does it perch in the soul? As you read this poem, keep in mind that the subject is hope and that the bird metaphor is only defining hope. Whatever is being said of the bird applies to hope, and the application to hope is Dickinson’s point in this poem.

The bird “sings.” Is this a good or a bad thing? The tune is “without words.” Is hope a matter of words, or is it a feeling about the future, a feeling which consists both of desire and expectation? Psychologically, is it true that hope never fails us, that hope is always possible?

Stanza two

Why is hope “sweetest” during a storm? When do we most need hope, when things are going well or when they are going badly?

Sore is being used in the sense of very great or severe; abash means to make ashamed, embarrassed, or self-conscious. Essentially only the most extreme or impossible-to-escape storm would affect the bird/hope. If the bird is “abashed” what would happen to the individual’s hope? In a storm, would being “kept warm” be a plus or a minus, an advantage or a disadvantage?

Stanza three

What kind of place would “chillest” land be? would you want to vacation there, for instance? Yet in this coldest land, hope kept the individual warm. Is keeping the speaker warm a desirable or an undesirable act in these circumstances? Is “the strangest sea” a desirable or undesirable place to be? Would you need hope there? The bird, faithful and unabashed, follows and sings to the speaker (“I’ve heard it”) under the worst, the most threatening of circumstances.

The last two lines are introduced by “Yet.” What kind of connection does “yet” establish with the preceding ideas/stanzas? Does it lead you to expect similarity, contrast, an example, an irrelevancy, a joke? Even in the most critical circumstances the bird never asked for even a “crumb” in return for its support. What are the associations with “crumb”? would you be satisfied if your employer offered you “a crumb” in payment for your work? Also, is “a crumb” appropriate for a bird?

From: http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/melani/cs6/hope.html

 


 

A child said, What is the grass?

 

by Walt Whitman

 

A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full
            hands;
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it
            is any more than he.
 
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful
            green stuff woven.
 
Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we
            may see and remark, and say Whose?
 
Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe
            of the vegetation.
 
Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow
            zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the 
same, I receive them the same.
 
And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.
 
Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;
It may be you are from old people and from women, and
            from offspring taken soon out of their mother's laps,
And here you are the mother's laps.
 
This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old
            mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.
 
O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths
            for nothing.
 
I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men
            and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring
            taken soon out of their laps.
 
What do you think has become of the young and old men?
What do you think has become of the women and
            children?
 
They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait
            at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.
 
All goes onward and outward. . . .and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and
            luckier.

 

     

 

Hello world!

“To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not

at what he has already achieved, but what he aspires to.”  

Khalil Gibran