Posts Tagged ‘Longfellow’

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I think that Longfellow might have been living in the Pacific Northwest when he penned the verses above.

The forecast for this week has been rain, and the chance of rain from day to day, has been anywhere from 70-100%.

The morning awakenings, of lighter skies brightening my bedroom windows, last week, have been traded for the dark of early January mornings.

I do not like cold, and dark, and dreary. It is weather systems like this that can literally and figuratively put a dark cloud on my days.

Now there are times when I can appreciate, and even feel refreshed by such weather forecasts. In the middle of the summer, after weeks of hot sun, and no precipitation, awakening to the gentle rain of summer is a most joyful experience. Times like that, when there is good purpose in the rains, I can understand, I can appreciate their appearance.

This week, in the midst of the dark and dreary, I have had pain brought to my conscious thinking. Not my own pain (other than when I stubbed my toe on the corner of the wall, yesterday), but the pains that occur throughout life, like seasons of rain.

My daughter had me proof read a paper she had written on the purpose of pain.

“It is hard to evaluate why God allows anyone to suffer. I highly doubt that I can adequately scratch the surface of the complexity of this issue, but an attempt leads to the learning of others and myself. I believe God allows suffering to occur as an unfortunate byproduct of his gift of freewill. Without free will to choose our own path, we would never experience those moments in life of all-consuming bittersweet joy, the kind that bubbles up somewhere in the center of the continuum of delighted laughter and contented tears where you cannot help but suddenly surrender to the depth and magnitude of the mysteries of life and be present. You cannot rightly know one without the other – a world without pain and only metaphysical joy is mutually exclusive to people who are bound to perspective rooted in familiarity. God does not desire suffering for us, but in giving us choice he is also obligated to let us deal with the consequences.”

When I read the line “you cannot rightly know one without the other” I was reminded of thoughts I had last Sunday, as hubby was preaching, and said, “I do not pretend to understand God’s economy” (in reference to God sacrificing His own son, for the sinful nature of humanity.

It made me look at the gifts of people. Gifts that would never be used, never be needed, were it not for pain.

Without sickness, we would not need those who heal.

Without sorrow, we would not need those with compassion.

Without conflict, we would not need peacemakers.

In pain can be found people who attend to the need. They are, in effect, the reminders that “behind the clouds is the sun still shining.”


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“There was a little girl, who had a little curl

Right in the middle of her forehead.

When she was good, he was very good indeed,

But when she was bad, she was horrid.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

How did this man, this poet and story teller, who died one hundred and ten years before my daughter was born, know her so well, that he could write this piece of her?

Of course now she is nearly nineteen, and all that is left of the little girl, who I would quote this verse to, is … the little curl, right in the middle of her forehead (when it is humid).

How time has flown since then …

Although the verse, quoted above, is the entirety of what Longfellow wrote, Esther and Eloise Wilkin added an entire story (complete with delightful illustrations) to his little masterpiece. And this story was one of my favorite stories, as a child. Now her book “Good Little, Bad Little Girl” is out of print. But their story is one that, as a parent, should be a part of childhood learning.

What Longfellow knew, and wrote of, was:

– you cannot read a book by it’s cover

– outward beauty is not a reflection of inner beauty

– that bad actions and attitude can come, even from one so young

– that the good and bad actions and attitudes can switch, at a moments notice

– that all have the ability to be very, very good, and … very, very horrid

What the Wilkin sisters added to Longfellow’s verse, did not diminish what he wrote, but instead enhanced his verse into a story to learn from. Their story compared and contrasted these two little girls, the good one, and the bad one, who lived in the same house. Now, in reality, the two little girls were actually the same one little girl. The story told simply of how she could be delightfully good (and the positive consequences of that), as well as horribly bad (and the negative consequences of that). In the end, their story provided the reality that doing what is good, or doing what is bad is all about choices, and that we can choose our consequences by our choices.

My, now almost nineteen, daughter is famous in our house for teaching her younger brother ‘a positive attitude is the key to success’ … I think, at least theoretically, that she learned her lesson well. Because she not only caught on to the essence of what she’d had read, but she also realizes that there could be good consequences in teaching this to her brother.

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