Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Favorites - Favorite Poem

***This post is part of a new series called Friday Favorites – every Friday I will release a new Friday Favorites topic.  Participation is easy, just link up to the latest Friday Favorites post and let us know in the comments that you’re participating so we can all check out your favorites.  Next week’s Friday Favorites topic will be “your favorite thing(s) about blogging”.  ***

My favorite poem is this one by Emily Dickinson:
If I can stop one heart from breaking;
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his next again,
I shall not live in vain.
I have loved this poem from the very first time I read it as a teenager.  I’ve had an ongoing fascination with Emily Dickinson and reading about her just makes me want to read more. One of the things I love about her work is that she seems to say so much with very few words. To me, this poem is a sort of motto for living.  It sums up what I believe is a good way to try to live, and she does it in 41 words.  That’s all.  Forty-one words.  I think that’s impressive. 
I think the thought of living in vain, or trying not to live in vain, resonates with people.  We’re only given a relatively short amount of time in the grand scheme of things, and none of it is guaranteed, so I think it helps to be aware of how we want to live.  It makes me think about things like whether or not anything that I do will help to make the world a little better place. 
I think this poem also speaks to the value of small things; stopping one heart from breaking, or easing the aching of one life.  To me, it says that helping just one person matters.  Small things matter.  We don’t have to solve the world’s problems not to live in vain, we just have to help in some small way.
I also think the poem is the perfect poem for people involved in animal rescue, which if you’ve visited this blog much, you know is important to me.  The photo is of a brick that is part of the walk-way to our no-kill shelter.  I asked for donations to them for my 30th birthday, and my Mother-In-Law purchased a brick for me to have engraved.  I chose parts of this poem because I love it so much and because I thought it was appropriate for animal rescue.
Animal rescue is about easing the aching of lives, and sometimes it’s one fur kid’s life at a time.  The part about helping one fainting robin unto his nest again really resonates with me when it comes to animal rescue because so much of it is helping on fur kid at a time into a better life.   Sometimes you have to focus really hard on the one life that is being saved because you’ll go crazy if you think about the failures.  I think this poem says that’s alright. 


  1. Oh my, what a great post! Danielle, you made my eyes mist up. And I love your brick. I have always felt, and brought up my kids to feel, that we should help others whenever possible, whether humans or animals, we are all sentient beings. I forgot about this poem, so thanks so much for sharing it with us.

    Another essay this brought to mind: Made A Difference to That One. It's about the person throwing live starfish back into the ocean after they washed up on the beach, and someone asked why bother, since you can't save them all. And the person's response is the name of the essay.

    Sorry, didn't mean to digress, and I actually picked a Robert Frost poem for mine. Please stop by and check it out. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I'm going to check out that essay; it sounds really good.

  2. Nice post, great blog, following :)

    Good Luck :)

  3. Love this! You had me at 'Poem'!

  4. This is a beautiful poem, and the brick is perfect!
    Animal rescue, especially greyhound adoption, is close to m heart, too.

    1. Aww, that's great. I've read some about everything the greyhounds have to be taught in rescue. So glad people take the time to do that.


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