Defining Hope……. Poetically

In the next 3 posts about Hope I’m going to explore its meanings in poetry, art and prose

Hope is word that has changed its meaning over the passage of time, like many other words. This change of meaning has moved it from something tangible to something etheral…. almost a wish….. something I’d love to happen if….

The word art I’ve created below signifies my feelings about the change of meaning in a visual and easily visible format:



I spent of bit of time today roaming the internet and reading the offerings of various poets on the subject of hope. I’ve chosen 3 extracts that for me tell the story of the this change from solid promise to wish:


Strong hopeThis verse is taken from Hope at its Strongest by Laura Random and embodies the strength hope gives us, when we see it as the certainty promised in its original meaning:

Hope is the strongest thing of all

Hope will allow us not to fall

Hope will rise against anything

Hope is like a fiery ring

Hope is something we can use to support us, help us keep our feet – rather like a pair of crutches or walking sticks. The imagery of the fiery ring suggest protection and safety


Whilst this poem from Micron – Hope is, strives to capture both the past certainties of hope, plus our current understanding of it as an etheral thing, something of dreams:

Hope is a dream in the mind of what can come
Hope gives you a future whatever has passed whatever done
Hope is a light that breaks through the darkness that us surround
Hope helps us find our way through to safer loving ground
Hope fights for you when things get so very tough
Hope means keeping going when you have had enough
Hope though dims on times stays through your sorrow
Hope brings you through by dreaming of tomorrow
Hope tries to console you when your eyes glisten with tears
Hope gives you something to keep going whatever your fears
Hope is free beautiful may fade but never dies
Hope is always there even if its light seems dim on times

He initially describes hope as a solid thing  – something that gives us a future, a fighter in our camp, a light we can aim for, a hug, something that is eternal. But he also recognises that for some hope can fade and can become the stuff of dreams…. hopes for tomorrow being better than today…..


This poem lead me to reflect on attitudes to hope -when we believe we have a purpose, a reason for being then hope carries us through, we know we have something to achieve and strive for. But when we lack hope  situations quickly become hopeless and we cannot see a way out. A common phrase at church is:

“Your attitude determines your outitude” – what you feel inside is what you show to the world.

Recently its  felt to me that one thing has crashed in on top of another and there was no respite. To say I was down and feeling pretty hopeless was more than fair. And then I came across a Facebook group which encourages its members to start focusing on a daily gratitude – you can probably imagine my initial response! But as I read more of the posts I began to see I did have stuff to be grateful for:


And slowly I started to be more focused on the positives and  hope came back…. I could see that glimmer of light…… Life could and would get better. I had a faith to hold on to and a promise of much better times to come.

And my belief  that the bad times are periods of refinement, where some of the rough edges get knocked off, where we learn to think and feel differently, where we grow… is now returning


I think my experiences describe the original definition,  trusting that things will get better, that God’s promises will be kept for us – a tangible thing. But  in the midst of that hope I also realised were hopes that should surely be wishes. For example….. I hope I can have the pink balloon, or I hope its Icecream for tea – is that really a hope or a wish? This extract from a poem by Julius Babarinsa sums up this kind of wishful hoping for me:

EphemeralEvery human being living on this earth hopes for something
Poor people hope that one day money will come their way
The rich folks hope to multiply their assets before long
Several men hope for a wife who is as caring as their mother
Many women hope for husbands who is as loving as their father
Children always hope for parents who will give them everything


Its wanting something better in a “getting stuff” way – not in a building endurance way  – and for me that’s a bit too Cinderella – its the sort of thing you need a Fairy Godmother for as opposed to faith, tenacity and belief. And I’m not sure that’s something I want to design, after all fairies are a popular thing and the market is pretty much flooded with them in their many formats, plus its not the sort of Hope I want to “sell”, if that makes sense…

I’ve also  rediscovered that there sometimes this “wishful” hope  is expressed more negatively, it was surprising the number of poems I found reading through about those who hoped harm would come to others – they seem to be written from 2  perspectives, the spurned lover and the hurt inner child. These “hopes” seemed to stem from the crushing of personal hope and a need for revenge.

I’m challenged by this meaning of a word I want to use as a positive symbol in my work. Do I need to consider this when designing? How do I ensure the objects I create are positive gifts?

I’d be interested to know what others think……. do you see or use hope as a positive or negative concept?

And remember if you’d like to contribute to this blog series by sharing your own views of hope, either as a guest blogger or sharing in a smaller way, perhaps by contributing an opinion, please get in touch via the enquiry form on the LEARN page!

2 thoughts on “Defining Hope……. Poetically

  1. This is a very thought provoking post. To me hope is entirely positive. When things are tough it is hope that gets me though. I also think that hope is a bit like goals. I hope that I can bring my children up to behave, be polite etc. I suppose it also comes from a bit of doubt in myself? (Hope that some of this makes sense). I am enjoying your journey. Thanks.

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