Featured Poem: Fleeing Away by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

This week’s Featured Poem comes from The Reader Organisation’s poetry anthology Poems To Take Home, a selection of classics specially chosen by Get Into Reading group members, volunteers and staff. All of the poems are meaningful, as they have been shared in Get Into Reading groups up and down the country over the years, discussed over plates of biscuits, evoking a range of powerful emotions amongst members – and have since become firm favourites.

This selection, from Ella Wheeler Wilcox, is particularly significant: if not brimming with optimism at least identifiable – who hasn’t thought at some stage ‘My purpose is not what it ought to be’? – and in that sense, somewhat strangely reassuring. Whether at any point we are closer or further away from our ‘higher selves’, it’s important to recognise that the road isn’t always easy, and so we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves in facing our daily strife.

Fleeing Away

My thoughts soar not as they ought to soar,
Higher and higher on soul-lent wings;
But ever and often, and more and more
They are dragged down earthward by little things,
By little troubles and little needs,
As a lark might be tangled among the weeds.

My purpose is not what it ought to be,
Steady and fixed, like a star on high,
But more like a fisherman’s light at sea;
Hither and thither it seems to fly –
Sometimes feeble, and sometimes bright,
Then suddenly lost in the gloom of night.

My life is far from my dream of life –
Calmly contented, serenely glad;
But, vexed and worried by daily strife,
It is always troubled and ofttimes sad –
And the heights I had thought I should reach one day
Grow dimmer and dimmer, and farther away.

My heart never finds the longed-for rest;
Its worldly striving, its greed for gold,
Chilled and frightened the calm-eyed guest,
Who sometimes sought me in days of old;
And ever fleeing away from me
Is the higher self that I long to be.

Poems To Take Home is available to buy from The Reader Organisation, with all proceeds going towards supporting out outreach work. Please visit our website to find out how to get your copy. 

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