Keep discouragement at bay

Keep discouragement at bay

Emily Dickinson was an American Poet of the 18th century.  She was extremely prolific as a poet and regularly enclosed poems in letters to friends. It is said that she had penned a whopping 1,800 poems in her short life of 55 years.  Yet, she was not publicly recognized and only a dozen of her poems were published during her lifetime. The first volume of her work was published posthumously in 1890 and the last in 1955.

Despite unfavourable reviews and skepticism of her literary prowess during the late 19th and early 20th century, critics now consider Dickinson to be one of the most significant of all American poets. Much of her resolution to pen those hundreds of poems is believed to have sprung from her determination to keep discouragement at bay. Though almost all her poems never got to see the light of day, she kept at it constantly and never stopped writing.

Discouragement is something that plagues all of us.  It springs from the many failures we face as we trod along the journey of our lives. When our best efforts, earnest attempts and hard labour fail to yield the results we expect or fall short of what we deserve, discouragement automatically sets in, thwarting our enthusiasm and dampening our spirits. Yet, with the right perspective we can rise above these discouragements to put our talents to good and fruitful use.

This ability to keep at one’s work and toil in the midst of growing discouragement has always been the attribute of those who succeed at their endeavours. Vincent Van Gogh, the Dutch Post-Impressionist painter, for instance stands as a classic example. He is the celebrated figure in the history of Western art to create about 2,100 artworks. His oil paintings of landscapes, still lifes, portraits and self-portraits were characterised by bold colours and dramatic, impulsive and expressive brushwork that contributed to the foundations of modern art. Though he was often troubled and led to despondency, he rose from his moments of discouragement to produce hundreds of world class paintings. As he often would say, “I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing.”

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