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|Whatever Your Fortunes
|I was recently telling my granddaughter about one of my high school English literature
teachers who was intent on having his students memorize poems. Every Monday, he would
give us a list of poems that we had to memorize by Friday. Sometimes it was a fairly
substantial list and all of my classmates would moan when they saw it. Not me. The longer the
list, the happier I was. It was an easy way to make an A, because memorizing poetry came
naturally to me (unlike algebra and chemistry, but we don't need to talk about that).
The title of this page comes from a poem I've always liked, "Nobility" by Alice Cary. Alice and
her sister, Phoebe, were born in the 1820's. They both loved to write prose and poetry, but
were only allowed to do so at night, after their chores were completed and, often, they were
denied the use of candles, because their parents thought writing poetry a frivolous waste of
candle wax. Not easily discouraged, the sisters improvised and used a saucer of lard, with a
rag for a wick, as light, so they could continue writing. Their efforts paid off and they
eventually moved to New York and, in their time, became famous in the U.S. and beyond.
I'm happy that the Cary sisters persevered and happy that "Nobility" is in my battered copy of
"101 Famous Poems." The book was a gift from my mother when I was 16. I have 3 other
editions of it in much better shape and a mountain of other books of poetry, but when I feel in
need of poetry for comfort, I inevitably go to this old friend. It never fails to bring peace to
the mind and comfort to the soul.
|The photos on this page are from countries that border the Black Sea:
Romania, Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Turkey.
True worth is in being, not seeming -
In doing, each day that goes by,
Some little good - not in dreaming
Of great things to do by and by.
For whatever men say in their blindness,
And in spite of the fancies of youth,
There's nothing so kingly as kindness,
And nothing so royal as truth.
We get back our mete as we measure -
We cannot do wrong and feel right,
Nor can we give pain and gain pleasure,
For justice avenges each slight.
The air for the wing of the sparrow,
The bush for the robin and wren,
But always the road that is narrow
Is the path for the children of men.
We cannot make bargains for blisses,
Nor catch them like fishes in nets;
And sometimes the thing our life misses
Helps more than the thing which it gets.
For good lies not in pursuing,
Nor gaining of great or of small,
But just in the doing - and doing
As we would be done by - is all.
Through envy, through malice, through hating,
Against the world, early and late,
No jot of our courage abating,
Our part is to work and to wait.
And slight is the sting of his trouble
Whose winnings are less than his worth,
For he who is honest is noble,
Whatever his fortunes or birth.
-- Alice Cary