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Sunday, November 7, 2010

It’s Always Darkest before the Dawn

(Hayley Mills in the title role of Pollyanna, the 1960
Disney film)

What can you do when misfortune comes your way?

You can follow the example of Pollyanna, the orphan in the 1912 classic children’s story by Eleanor Porter (as explained in the abridged passage below from the novel).

“You don’t seem ter see any trouble bein’ glad about everythin’,” retorted Nancy, choking a little over her remembrance of Pollyanna’s brave attempts to like the bare little attic room.

Pollyanna laughed softly. “Well, that’s the game, you know, anyway.”

“The — game?

“Yes — the ‘just being glad’ game. Father told it to me, and it’s lovely. We’ve played it always, ever since I was a little, little girl.” In the gathering twilight her face looked thin and wistful. “Why, we began it on some crutches that came in a missionary barrel.”


“Yes. You see I’d wanted a doll, and Father had written them so; but when the barrel came the lady wrote that there hadn’t any dolls come in, but the little crutches had. So she sent ’em along as they might come in handy for some child, some time. And that’s when we began it. The game was to just find something about everything to be glad about — no matter what ’twas. And we began right then — on the crutches.

“I couldn’t see it, at first. Father had to tell it to me. Just be glad because you don’t — need — ’em!

Or you can just keep in mind the old saying that it’s always darkest before the dawn.


But how dark
is darkest?
Does it get
jet — or tar —
black; does it
glint and increase
in hardness
or turn viscous?
Are there stages
of darkness
and chips
to match against
its increments,
holding them
up to our blindness,
estimating when
we’ll have the
night behind us?

~ Kay Ryan, born 1945, American poet

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