A poetymology of hope

It’s been said that a person needs three things in order to be happy: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. Since I’ve already blogged about love and work, I think it’s about time I wrote something about hope.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines having hope as, “wanting something to happen or to be true, and usually having a good reason to think that it might”. Martin Luther King Jr personified this definition; he wanted African Americans to have the same privileges and rights as other U.S. citizens and he believed that he could help bring about this change by leading the civil rights movement.

King famously said, “We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope”, meaning that although we may face challenges along the way, we should never lose sight of our goals. As a child, I wrote about this idea in a poem titled Thought of the Day: Hope.

Hope poem scanned

At the time I wrote this, I was being bullied by my schoolmates for my writing ability. I was often asked to read my work aloud, so I was called a teacher’s pet; people rolled their eyes and made snide comments when I was called up in assemblies to receive writing prizes; my school bag, containing my treasured notebooks, was taken from me and thrown out of the school bus.

Despite the bullying I faced at school (which felt unbearable at the time, though in hindsight I realise it could have been much worse), I still had hope for the future – mainly because my mum reassured me that the bullies were simply jealous and that one day I would be a published writer (and the bullies would get nowhere – thanks mum!). I kept my “anger and annoyance at bay” and carried on writing, with “hope for the future and confidence near”.

I always hoped to become a professional writer but as I got older and took my first steps into the working world, I faced some obstacles that challenged my ambition and self-belief (as I’ve previously blogged about in my poetymology of work/career post). After each disappointment, I held on to the hope that I would have other opportunities to help me on the path to achieving my goals – which was the inspiration for this rather abstract poem that I wrote when I was 23:


Since then, I’ve achieved some of my goals but I continue to hope for greater progress and success. Hope is what motivates me to push myself; it’s what makes me seek out new opportunities to learn and grow, both as a writer and as a person, and I’m all the better for it.

I believe it’s important to have hope, regardless of the circumstances. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr, “If you lose hope, somehow you lose that vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you to go on in spite of all. And so today I still have a dream.”

How has hope helped you through hard times, and what are your hopes for the future? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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