Saturday, January 14, 2012

Prompt #86 – Hope

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul, 

And sings the tune – without the words, 

And never stops at all …

– Emily Dickinson

This week, I thought it would be interesting to write about hope and the ways in which it manifests itself in our lives. As an emotional state, hope is the opposite of despair. Everyone hopes for something, and it is hope that often sustains us through challenging times. Hope is also about anticipation and looking forward to things we want. Many believe that hope can become a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. 

“Hope literally opens us up. It removes the blinders of fear and despair and allows us to see the big picture. We become creative, unleashing our dreams for the future.  This is because deep within the core of hope is the belief that things can change. No matter how awful or uncertain they are at the moment, things can turn out for the better. Possibilities exist. Belief in this better future sustains us. It keeps us from collapsing in despair. It infuses our bodies with the healing rhythms of positivity. It motivates us to tap into our signature capabilities and inventiveness to turn things around. It inspires us to build a better future.” (Source:

Example Poems:

For Reflection Before You Begin Writing:

 1. What do you hope for?
 2. What have you hoped for?
 3. How have your hopes been realized?
 4. How have your hopes ended in sadness or disappointment?
 5. How have you dealt with the fallout of ruined hopes?
 6. It’s been written that lies shatter hope. How has a lie shattered your hope?
 7. How do you “live in hope?”
 8. How can you relate the term “be careful what you hope for” to a personal experience?
 9. What metaphor can you create for “hope,” and how can you work it into a poem?
10. How can you express what "hope" means in the context of your personal faith system?


  1. My favorite faith/hope quotation:

    " ... but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

    Thanks for another great prompt!


    1. Thanks for sharing that powerful quote from Scripture, Jamie!

  2. A Corner Of Light

    Certain paintings are only beautiful from a distance,
    The natural tendency to criticize,
    To overanalyze the smallest detail,
    Tempered by diffusion.

    In this subway window I look beautiful
    In the dark tunneling light,
    A surprise after close-mirrored inspection
    Revealed so many flaws this morning.

    How I look to myself at any given moment,
    Something on the outside,
    Something on the inside,
    Has no certainty.

    With something like hope,
    Something like courage,
    Something like acceptance,
    I find solace in this corner of light.

    1. Thank you, Russ, for sharing your poem with us! As Adele noted, the imagery is striking! And, this poem is a good fit (with the subway window reflection image) for both this prompt and Prompt #85.


    2. Very nice, Russ! The almost-surreal quality really works well, and a great last line.

  3. Thanks so much for re-posting, Russ! I'm not sure what happened the first time -- it just disappeared.

    Great image of the subway window and "dark tunneling light."


    While I endured radiation
    I worked on my thesis,
    taking books to
    the waiting room

    While I waited to be called
    I researched the lives
    of early immigrant
    mothers and wives

    Sitting with cancer sisters
    I read of Yezierska’s Sara
    whose punishing father never
    could flatten her feminist bent

    Before they helped me onto the steel table
    I visited tenement apartments
    where thin soup with bread
    nurtured children just in from streetplay

    Anticipating the muffled, colorless beam
    I heard the whirr of sewing machines
    in hot factory workrooms and felt
    rain pelting steamy sidewalks

    Waiting for my weekly blood tests
    I leafed through Bintel Brief,
    where New World readers begged for advice
    about starving offspring, errant husbands

    Driving home daily
    I embraced matriarchs who had
    traded one shtetl for another,
    stoop gossip replacing screams of fiery pogroms

    Resting on our shaded deck, tapping my keyboard
    I captured mothers, aunts, sisters
    who may have gone to their rest
    without my daily rays of hope

    -- from Sugar and Sand

    1. Thanks, Gail, for sharing your wonderful poem!

    2. Thank you, Gail, for sharing this personal "story" of courage and insight. Sending you wishes for blessings and poems!


    3. A poem that resonates for all of us who have "been there." Thanks for sharing, Gail!

  5. Great topic for the first month of a New Year! Your thoughts "For Reflection..." are very thought-provoking.

  6. "Radiation Summer," such a moving integration of history and the present moment. Funny how having to undergo some unpleasant medical procedure often makes me think of those who have suffered, those who suffer, who find no easy escape from suffering.

    This is a thoughtful poem that reminds me I am the culmination of my previous generations, and that I must not fail to appreciate the suffering endured that has made my life possible.

    1. Russ, thanks so much for your comment.

      In a recent interview, I spoke a bit about suffering: "In my life, the challenges have, in large measure, defined (and continue to define) who I am. I’ve come to believe that a purpose of suffering is discovering a relationship with it and understanding its causal effect on whether or not we become bitter or grateful."

  7. My thanks to Russ Allison Loar and to Gail Fishman Gerwin for sharing their wonderful poems! And my thanks to you, Adele, for this fabulous blog!

    Go raibh maith agaibh,
    Máire Ó Cathail (Ireland)

  8. I am new to this blog, so perhaps this suggestion is unnecessary, but wouldn't it be interesting to see one of Adele's poems linked under "Example Poems" in relation to the prompt?