The Rill of Hope


What feeds this feeble rill of Hope
Trickling to a Lake of Doubt?
Whose servants march beside its slope
Whispering of dams and drought?

From beck to brook, from brook to streams,
To cataracts of roiling grief
Which thunder through our fever dreams
To drown in pools of disbelief...

What nourishment from depthless wells.
From sunless seas — what nameless source
Dares circumscribe our private hells
To bid our helmsman: ‘Hold your course!’

When all is lost, when terror reigns
And men despair — when deaths are cures
And rope the remedy for pains:
Still, drop by drop, Hope’s rill endures!

Hope is more than the sunny view that everything will turn out all right — it is believing you have the will and the way to accomplish your goals.”—  Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence  (Bantam Books 1995).

Without hope we are nothing. This is another poem written shortly after the confirmation of the diagnosis of my throat cancer back in January 2012. I like Leonard Cohen’s take on this subject. He once quipped: ‘Sure, there is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.’

The word ‘rill’, by the way, comes from an early Dutch and Frisian root, meaning smallest of streams. Along with ‘beck’, it is one of the oldest unaltered words in that most fabulous of mongrels, the English language.