Thursday, 22 June 2017

It Might Have Been by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I don't usually share posts from my other blog B+ve where I post infrequently. But I thought I'd make an exception with my pithy review of Ella Wheeler Wilcox's poem that I like a lot. It's both inspirational and spiritual. I read a lot of the latter, more as an approach to life. I offer my take at the end of the verse.

We will be what we could be. Do not say,
"It might have been, had not this, or that, or this."
No fate can keep us from the chosen way;
He only might who is.

We will do what we could do. Do not dream
Chance leaves a hero, all uncrowned to grieve.
I hold, all men are greatly what they seem;
He does, who could achieve.

We will climb where we could climb. Tell me not
Of adverse storms that kept thee from the height.
What eagle ever missed the peak he sought?
He always climbs who might.

I do not like the phrase "It might have been!"
It lacks force, and life's best truths perverts:
For I believe we have, and reach, and win,
Whatever our deserts.


© Encyclopedia Britannica
Second Take: “No fate can keep us from the chosen way.” In my opinion, this one line perfectly sums up American author and poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s 1917 poem It Might Have Been. Many of us spend our lives dreaming about the things we want to do and the goals we want to achieve. And when we can’t — or choose not to — pursue our dreams, we spend the rest of our lives in regret and feeling sorry for ourselves. We blame our luck or the lack of it; we bemoan our fate for what isn't and what should have been. The truth is we have no one to blame but ourselves. When people with serious difficulties in life can swim against raging currents and climb hostile mountains and taste sweet victory, why can’t the rest of us climb a few rungs of the ladder to reach our destinations? The only way to change It might have been to I made it! is by substituting the proverbial “Impossible” with “I-am-possible”. Then we shall win, and have our deserts too.

14 comments:

  1. Author is new to me. I enjoyed the writings. Thanks.

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    1. Thank you, Mystica. I have generally enjoyed reading her poetry.

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  2. Enjoyed reading this and your take. Food for thought.

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    1. Thanks, Col. I have a special interest in philosophy.

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  3. A very thoughtful review, Prashant. I don't think I have a Pollyanna-ish look on life, but I have few regrets, and I think we do affect the outcome of our lives.

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    1. Thank you, Tracy. Neither do I, maybe that's why I have been spiritual literature since my early teens.

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  4. I really like this review, Prashant! You're absolutely right about how empowered we are to make our own futures and decide what our lives will be.

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    1. Thank you, Margot. By the time we realise that we can steer our lives the way we want, it's often too late.

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    1. Thanks, Charles. I like Ella Wheeler Wilcox's writing and especially her poetry.

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  6. Thanks for posting this piece and your thoughts on it, Prashant. Not sure I am fully onboard with the poem, though. But, yes, blaming luck or the elements – or yourself – is a bad way to live. (Personal responsibility, yes. Regrets, no.) Better to remember Sinatra’s song, “My Way,” where he says, “Regrets, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention.” Or better yet, Edith Piaf’s song, “Non, je ne regrette rien.” That is the way I try to live.

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    1. You're welcome, Elgin. Thanks for bringing Edith Piaf's song to my attention. I read the translation and liked it very much. I agree, living in regret makes you live in the past rather than live in the present and work towards a better and a more satisfying tomorrow.

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  7. I have a collected works of her poetry that I very much enjoy.

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    1. David, I will be reading more of her poetry. In fact, I have only recently started reading classical/Victorian poetry every day, usually during lunch break at the office.

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