Agoo JFR blog readers,
This blog post features poetry that captures the emotional response of guilt. In a nutshell, guilt is a term which is frequently used to capture the feeling or the action of being guilty. I feel like one’s conscience and guilt are deeply interconnected. After all, when we think or do something that is morally unjust, we may develop a guilty conscience. I believe that guilt is a feeling people develop after doing something wrong— intentionally or accidentally.
I can see that guilt is not necessarily bad, and it can produce productivity and change us for the better. But what if you don’t change and become a spectator as times change. This is a dilemma that I’m currently facing as I find myself often feeling guilty for my inaction. So much has happened that each day I feel like I should have felt more, and done more. There has been so much occurring in this world, and I speak truthfully that I’ve become desensitized like many. I don’t know when and where it happened. I hope it is a survival mechanism. But while I’d feel shock, anger, disgust, and fear on matters such as mass school shootings, it’d be gone in a week. Well it’d come back three months later when I see another one, but it goes, and that’s what matters. Why does it go away?
Now I know there have been momentous events such as the advancements of the LGBTQ rights, legalization of marijuana in most of America, the Chicago cubs win of world series, and Simone Biles becoming the most decorated gymnast in history but at the same time, there has been so much horror. Gun violence, police brutality (Tamir Rice and Laquan McDonald), terrorism (internationally and domestic) and mass shooting (Sandy Hook Elementary School, black church shooting in Charleston, and county festival shooting). There have been hurricanes, wildfires and tropical storms caused by climate change that people want to deny. But just because you can deny doesn’t mean the consequences will go away, and neither does the guilt. Now the new hot guilt filled topic is Coronovirus, and even when I help raise funds and help spread awareness on events like these I feel like a fraud who can not escape their guilt. I admit, I seem like I’m worrying about things that don’t seem like my fault, but the truth is, it feels like it is. One of the smartest people in the world said:
“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything”- Albert Einstein.
Maybe a little guilt is good as it keeps me vigilant and human. Occasionally I’ll find myself reading stories and poems that remind me of what I should never forget and here are a few of those poems.
In the poem “Survivor Guilt” by Ron Padgett, guilt is accepted as a natural part of life that will not only come, but will develop as we go on in life. Padgett’s poem instructs us on how to keep guilt from overtaking our lives. He’s not encouraging people to deny guilt. But instead, he encourages people to keep a little bit of the guilt, so we can remember them every now and then. This helps to keep ourselves accountable and to prevent future mistakes. It may hurt now and then, to keep a hold of that guilt, but it’s worth it for the sake of human progress.
Survivor Guilt by Ron Padgett
It’s very easy to get.
Just keep living and you’ll find yourself
getting more and more of it.
You can keep it or pass it on,
but it’s a good idea to keep a small portion
for those nights when you’re feeling so good
you forget you’re human. Then drudge it up
and float down from the ceiling
that is covered with stars that glow in the dark
for the sole purpose of being beautiful for you,
and as you sink their beauty dims and goes out—
I mean it flies out the nearest door or window,
its whoosh raising the hair on your forearms.
If only your arms were green, you could have two small lawns!
But your arms are just there and you are kaput.
It’s all your fault, anyway, and it always has been—
the kind word you thought of saying but didn’t,
the appalling decline of human decency, global warming,
thermonuclear nightmares, your own small cowardice,
your stupid idea that you would live forever—
all tua culpa. John Phillip Sousa
invented the sousaphone, which is also your fault.
Its notes resound like monstrous ricochets.
But when you wake up your body
seems to fit fairly well, like a tailored suit,
and you don’t look too bad in the mirror.
Hi there, feller! Old feller, young feller, who cares?
Whoever it was who felt guilty last night,
to hell with him. That was then.
The poem “Beautiful Guilt” by Gregory Ojukwu speaks on the undeniable reality of guilt. Guilt speaks volumes without a word being said, it is beautiful and it is boundless. Ojukwu’s poem showcases that guilt can not be denied nor ignored because there’s something unique about it to every individual. Guilt will always make one drawn to it.
Beautiful Guilt by Gregory Ojukwu
We locked eyes again
The umpteenth time
A warm, inviting smile
Directly at my heart
My mind, my soul
With telepathic notes
Saying much more
Than words could convey
A magnetising one
Drawing me nearer,
Like one in a trance
“Such radiant smile. A message of hope? ”
“Ah! ” She blushed.
“My smile is me. It sayeth nothing.”
A guilty one.
A beautiful guilt.
The third poem “Guilt Will Wilt The Sweetest Flower” by Harley White speaks about the effect of feeling guilty and the consequences of being guilty. Guilt is mostly a mental pain that is often hard to get over, which unlike a physical pain, can often be torturous. It is so painful that even when some criminals are found not guilty, people are so sure of the fact that their guilty conscience will cripple them and serve as punishment. Criminals do on the rare occasion confess to crimes due to the crippling feeling of guilt even when they were not found guilty. White showcases the power of guilt and how guilt can actually benefit society. Since guilt is emotionally torturous, people often find ways to soothe their guilty feelings by making up for it through their actions. Overall, it seems that guilt helps society make up for past wrongs.
Guilt Will Wilt The Sweetest Flower – Poem by Harley White
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Guilt will wilt the sweetest flower,
Cause the very sun to glower,
Though the skies their tears may shower.
Guilt will wilt the sweetest flower.
Shame will tame the lion’s power,
Make the boldest warrior cower,
Turn the taste of triumph sour.
Guilt will wilt the sweetest flower.
For each mister, miss, or madam,
Son or lover— this is so.
In the Bible Eve and Adam
Did discover long ago…
That guilt will wilt the sweetest flower,
Steal the pleasure from the hour,
Even in the greenest bower—
Guilt will wilt the sweetest flower.
The last poem “The guilt” by Eric Cockrell highlights a special kind of guilt. The guilt caused not by accidentally or intentionally committing a wrong, but one caused by an action done by billions of people all over the world. This is guilt that is nothing. Cockrell’s social commentary is about how doing nothing is equal to doing everything. He implies that indifference and desensitization in our world leads towards injustice. These inactions are what has restricted progress and propelled evil to continuously triumph.
The Guilt by Eric Cockrell
The guilt we wear
While the world grieves,
Shedding tears of blood.
While the body of the child,
Is buried with the mother.
And hunger haunts
Our sleepless dreams.
While the caskets are counted,
And prayers come too late.
Yet the bus is on time,
And the time clock waits.
While nothing done,
Becomes action by cost.
As images drown
Both memory and names.
The guilt we wear…
Sources referenced: https://www.poemhunter.com/poems/guilt/page-1/55404081/#content
— Henrietta Eghan, Blogger
Henrietta Eghan’s Bio:
Henrietta O. Eghan is a Ghanaian geek, a book nerd, an otaku, and a sophomore at Lewis University. She is an English major with a minor in Computer Science with the goal of becoming a technical writer. Eghan writes for the Lewis Flyer Newspaper and works in the English department. She loves to read literature and watch films from around the world and across genres. Eghan loves to read Japanese, Chinese, African, Mexican and American books. Whether it is as a novel, a movie, Korean-drama, a manga, fanfiction or a literary magazine, her favorite past time is to read and explore different cultures.