Hope, Part 2

Welcome to the second of two posts, each offered in the hope (yes, hope!) that these words provide some light in dark times. If you missed the first collection of quotations about hope (or want to reread them), that post is here. Below are ten more.
Phil Nel, Professor

I can’t be a pessimist, because I am alive. To be a pessimist means you have agreed that human life is an academic matter, so I’m forced to be an optimist. I’m forced to believe that we can survive whatever we must survive.
— James Baldwin, “The Negro and the American Promise” (1963)
chosen by Phil Nel, Professor

Hope, and keep busy.
— Louisa May Alcott, Little Women (1868-1869)
chosen by Anne Phillips, Professor

It becomes very clear in gambling: by constantly raising the stakes, in hopes of getting back what is lost, the gambler steers toward absolute ruin.
— Walter Benjamin, Arcades (1927-1940)
chosen by Don Hedrick, Professor

I don’t believe in hope, and I don’t believe in hopelessness. I believe in compassion and pragmatism, in doing what is right for its own sake. Hope can be lethal when you are fighting an autocracy because hope is inextricable from time.
— Sarah Kendzior, Hiding in Plain Sight (2020)
chosen by Jana Hunter (MA ’22)

Farewell, farewell the heart that lives alone, 
Housed in a dream, at distance from the Kind! 
Such happiness, wherever it be known, 
Is to be pitied; for ’tis surely blind

But welcome fortitude, and patient cheer, 
And frequent sights of what is to be borne! 
Such sights, or worse, as are before me here.— 
Not without hope we suffer and we mourn.
—William Wordsworth, “Elegiac Stanzas Suggested by a Picture of Peele Castle in a Storm” (1807)
chosen by Mark Crosby, Associate Professor

Some comic books provide
the only note of color­
of certain color. They lie
upon a big dim doily
draping a taboret
(part of the set), beside
a big hirsute begonia.

Why the extraneous plant?
Why the taboret?
Why, oh why, the doily?
(Embroidered in daisy stitch
with marguerites, I think,
and heavy with gray crochet.)

Somebody embroidered the doily.
Somebody waters the plant,
or oils it, maybe. Somebody
arranges the rows of cans
so that they softly say:
to high-strung automobiles.
Somebody loves us all.
― Elizabeth Bishop, “Filling Station” (1965)
chosen by Elizabeth Dodd, Professor

Queerness is primarily about futurity and hope. That is to say that queerness is always in the horizon. I contend that if queerness is to have any value whatsoever, it must be viewed as being visible only in the horizon.
— José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (2009)
chosen by Tom Sarmiento, Assistant Professor

Feed the fire
And fan the flame
I know you kids can stand the rain
I know the kids are still upsetters
’cause rock is cool but the struggle is better
Go go go
And raise your hands
Raise your hands high
Don’t take a seat
Don’t stand aside
This time
Don’t assume anything
I said this time
Now don’t assume anything
Just go
Just go.
­— Indigo Girls, “Go,” Come On Now Social (1999)
chosen by Lisa Tatonetti, Professor

Whatever you do, let it be something that at the end of the day, you can say: I do this because I have a soul. Every choice, ask yourself is this going to be a soul-making or a soul-selling choice? Don’t settle for less. That’s what a life is for. Be what you long to be.
— Julia Alvarez, commencement speech, Middlebury College (2015)
chosen by Mary Cook (MA ’22)


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