Monday, March 21, 2011

Have Courage, Be Risky!

Hello everyone!  Happy Monday!  I know that it has been a while since I last updated this blog.  I was on vacation and couldn’t write new posts.  However, I am now back and have a lovely poem to share with you.  It’s entitled “Courage” and is written by Anne Sexton.  

Courage by Anne Sexton

It is in the small things we see it.
The child's first step,
as awesome as an earthquake.
The first time you rode a bike,
wallowing up the sidewalk.
The first spanking when your heart
went on a journey all alone.
When they called you crybaby
or poor or fatty or crazy
and made you into an alien,
you drank their acid
and concealed it.

if you faced the death of bombs and bullets
you did not do it with a banner,
you did it with only a hat to
comver your heart.
You did not fondle the weakness inside you
though it was there.
Your courage was a small coal
that you kept swallowing.
If your buddy saved you
and died himself in so doing,
then his courage was not courage,
it was love; love as simple as shaving soap.

if you have endured a great despair,
then you did it alone,
getting a transfusion from the fire,
picking the scabs off your heart,
then wringing it out like a sock.
Next, my kinsman, you powdered your sorrow,
you gave it a back rub
and then you covered it with a blanket
and after it had slept a while
it woke to the wings of the roses
and was transformed.

when you face old age and its natural conclusion
your courage will still be shown in the little ways,
each spring will be a sword you'll sharpen,
those you love will live in a fever of love,
and you'll bargain with the calendar
and at the last moment
when death opens the back door
you'll put on your carpet slippers
and stride out.

I hope you enjoyed the poem.  Here is what I think it could teach us:

In life, occasionally we encounter situations in which our inner passions are associated with risks.  We may wish to pursue these passions; however, we are too afraid to do so because of the consequences that may result.   For example, you hate your current job and have been contemplating about making a career change that will cause you to loose a significant amount in pay.  You may wonder how the change will affect your family.  What will your friends and colleagues think?  Or, you may wish to attend a top-notch law school, but you have below-average credentials.  What if you apply and don’t get accepted?  Even though the consequences of pursing our passions may be daunting, we may still wish to pursue our passions.  However, we may feel that we lack the courage to do so.    

But, Sexton tells us that we all have the small amount of courage needed to pursue what we wish to do.  She recounts the numerous times that we have been courageous without even trying.  She suggests that we will even have courage until the day we die.  Therefore, we have the courage needed to pursue or risky passions.  As a result, we should stop thinking too hard and stop dwelling on the negative.  We must simply jump in and take the risks. 

I want to share with you one of my favorite quotes: “If you do something, there is a slim chance that it may work.  However, if you give up then you have decided on certain failure.”  I love that quote because it reminds me that I have to take risks in order to accomplish what I hope to achieve.  If I decide not to take risks, then I surely will not achieve my goals.     

We can not let the possible consequences of pursing our passions spook us.  If in the end after taking risks we encounter misfortune, we must remember to relax and breathe.  The misfortune will teach us valuable lessons and will soon pass over. However, if the risks we take are of much fortune, needless to say, we will be extremely happy with no regrets.


  1. Great post Chelsea. You seamlessly integrated the lesson of the story to your life. This poem has a lot to offer. I would have liked to see you use some more examples from the text in your response, explaining some of the metaphors. Overall, I really enjoyed your explanation and interpretation of the poem.

  2. Hi Chelsea,
    I have to admit, I've never been a huge fan of poetry, but your blog allows those who aren't necessarily poetry fans enjoy a small taste of poetry along with personal commentary, which is nice. One small thing I would suggest is making the poem a different color so your comments and the poem are distinct from one another. I also like that you relate the poems to your everyday life. I might also be nice to offer a link to a wikipedia page or website of the author so readers can learn more about them.

  3. Chelsea,

    Thank you for sharing this poem! I had never read it before, although for another class we got to read "Transformations," a collection of fairy tales that Sexton had transformed into poems with often an often dark tone. I like the way you write to readers as almost a motivational speaker. It seems as if you are in some way trying to urge people to take risks and be courageous through the use of rhetorical questions and your own opinions.

    I also really like the design of the blog. It is simple and lets vistors concentrate on your content rather than bells and whistles.

    Did you write the post based on just your own interpretations of the poem? Often when I read poetry I have to look up with a literary scholar or expert has said about it. Maybe post links to some other interpretations?