Hope Is A Thing With Feathers…

Before my husband was killed in a motorcycle crash the three most important things in my life were my family, my career/students, and my books/blog/literary Twitter community. But the life I once knew has been shattered. Not just me and my daughter, but my beloved sister, brother-in-law, and twin nephews and my parents are all grieving. And the close friends whom we consider family share our sorrow.

I’ve been trying to do what feels like regaining my balance—figuring out what fits into this new and very different life I have now as I move forward.

And so I keep thinking, “Well now what?”

The introduction I wrote for a review on J.L. Carr’s book A Month in the Country also keeps running through my mind:

Hope is a thing with feathers, according to Emily Dickinson.

And Max Porter.

Hope floats, according to the film title.

Pope writes in his “An Essay on Man” that “Hope springs eternal.”

Pink, in her collaboration with Khalid “Hurts 2B Human,” sings that “hope flows away.”

In Aeschylus’s play, Prometheus says he gave to humans the gift of blind hope.

J.L. Carr’s character in his novella, a victim of shell shock and abandoned by his wife, muses:

“This is what I need, I thought—a new start and, afterwards, maybe I won’t be a casualty anymore. Well, we live by hope.”

And hope is the one thing, quite ambiguously, left in Pandora’s box of evils. Is hope also considered an evil? And, if so, should we be glad that it was held in the box? Or is hope a good thing, left behind in the box and now separated from evil?

Alan and I spoke about the myth of Pandora’s Box usually about once a year, in the autumn, when we would give an adapted version of it to our respective first year Latin students.

I wonder what he would say to me about it now.

I identify most with Aeschylus’s offering of blind hope.


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22 responses to “Hope Is A Thing With Feathers…

  1. Auntie T

    Well said Melissa you are amazing and strong and robbed of your beautiful life but you will survive and go on. You still have so much of Alan with you in that beautiful daughter you both created. She will get you through this rough time. Love you and her so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is hard, so very hard, and there will be days when it is harder than others, but these brief flickerings of hope, a gift to you from your conversations with Alan, are a sign that you and your daughter can make a new kind of family, not one that is shattered but one that is brave and strong.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kurt

    There is no hope. There’s only through. You’ll make it – one way or another.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Auntie T

    Well said Melissa you are amazing and strong and robbed of your beautiful life but you will survive and go on. You still have so much of Alan with you in that beautiful daughter you both created. She will get you through this rough time. Love you and her so much.


  5. Beautiful post Melissa. It’s hard to offer hope at the moment, when your loss is still so new and raw. Your life will be changed, but you will never lose what you had with Alan, and you have your beautiful daughter too who is part of you both. All I can say is that you *will* come through this, althoug it will be hard – but you are strong and you have family and you have Claire. There is no justice in the world, but all you can do is keep on keeping on, taking a day or so at a time. Thinking of you both all the time and sending love. x


  6. Bless your heart. You are generous and brave to share your thoughts with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is beautiful Melissa. Things must be so hard right now. My thoughts are with you and your extended family.


  8. Grief is the hardest thing. I’ve been so admiring of your openness and bravery in the face of it, Melissa, and so glad to read here that there are glimmers of hope for you. xx


  9. You have been in my thoughts these past weeks. My heartfelt condolences to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Dear Melissa,
    as to the loss of your beloved husband and father of your daughter, may I share the grief and mourning with you, family and friends.
    You are collecting thoughts of hope, and I would like to add one classical and one contemporary.
    “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
    And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” 1 Corinthians, 13, 12 and 13 at Kings James.
    (Lutheran German translation: “Glaube, Hoffnung, Liebe”)
    Would Bette Midlers song might comfort you: “From A Distance”:
    “… It’s the hope of hopes, it’s the love of loves,
    it’s the heart of every man. …”
    All the best wishes to you and your daughter with family and friends
    Yours, Bernd


  11. lilicole

    Dear Melissa, I read your shocking news, which reduced me to tears, while I was traveling cross-country from California back to the East Coast due to the mess of Covid. Apologies that I am writing now a bit late. Although of course I don’t know you, you have become a familiar voice for me with your posts, which I love since classics has played such an important background role in my life (my degree is in Russian literature, but did 5 years of Latin, 2 APs, 1 year of Greek, and my dearest friend and co-conspirator in high school classics was a brilliant classicist and writer who died tragically before her time a couple of years ago in London, so those memories have an almost sacred meaning to me now.) I want to tell you how deeply sorry I am for your loss. I find myself going back to “deep sources” of wisdom, almost always the classical roots of our civilization, in spiritually hard times. They seem to offer you some consolation as well. Thinking of you and your daughter, and always looking forward to posts and news from a fellow literature-lover.
    Lili Cole

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for sharing this with us, it’s very brave of you.

    I feel that everything I could say to you would be trite and insensitive, so I’ll keep to sending heartfelt hugs and positive vibes, hoping -there’s hope again- that it’ll help for half a second.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Vishy

    Beautiful post, Melissa. Thank you for sharing. I am glad we have hope. I am glad it is there in Pandora’s box. We need it. Sending you lots of love and hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

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