Walking in Nature with Myra Viola Wilds

This past week, I discovered the poet, Myra Viola Wilds, when her poem “Thoughts” came flying into my inbox. This is the poem that came to me as I walked a forest path on Burnaby Mountain. I find that walking in nature is a form of meditation that encourages reflection. It is a time for poetic words.

I invite you to join me in reciting, “Thoughts,” by Myra Viola Wilds.

Thoughts


What kind of thoughts now, do you carry
In your travels day by day
Are they bright and lofty visions,
Or neglected, gone astray?
Matters not how great in fancy,
Or what deeds of skill you’ve wrought;
Man, though high may be his station,
Is no better than his thoughts.
Catch your thoughts and hold them tightly,
Let each one an honor be;
Purge them, scourge them, burnish brightly,
Then in love set each one free.

This poem is in the public domain.

The poem “Thoughts” is included in Myra Viola Wilds’ collection,“Thoughts of Idle Hours,” which can be found on the Internet Archive, There are several download options from which to choose. My choice was to add “Thoughts of Idle Hours” to my Kindle Library.

From the preface to the collection:

I send out my first little book, “Thoughts of Idle Hours,” trusting it may find kind, considerate friends. Should I live to finish the second edition, I hope it will be a great improvement over this my first. I was born at Mount Ollie, Ky., a little country place. I lost my eyesight from overwork and eye strain at my occupation, dressmaking, in the year 1911. For three years afterward, I went through a very severe illness. On March 10th, 1914, at 3 a. m. I awoke out of a sound sleep and wrote my first poem, “Sunshine.” In eleven months and seventeen days afterward, I had written the contents of this book. The question has often been asked, who writes your thoughts for you since you are blind? I will answer here. Every line and verse in this little volume has been composed and written with my own hand notwithstanding the loss of my eyesight.

A copy of each verse I retain in my own handwriting, after this, they are copied in a book by my husband. I beg your kind consideration of the plain, simple verses herein:

I do not seek Wealth, Fame or Place,
Among the great ones of my race,
But, I would pen in letters bold!
Some thoughts! perhaps to cheer the soul.

Published by Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

61 thoughts on “Walking in Nature with Myra Viola Wilds

    1. You bring up a very important point that I have been considering these past months, Liz. Poetry has the power to connect poet to reader/listener with only a few well-chosen words. The symbolism and message comes through with strength and vigor. How is it possible that poetic words have the power to evoke emotional response so quickly? For me, it is like viewing artwork. Everyone has a different experience, but all of us have somehow connected to the artist. This is my roundabout way of saying I feel the same way – I would have liked to know Myra too. Many thanks for your visit and comments!!

      Liked by 8 people

    2. Words like “Man, though high may be his station, Is no better than his thoughts.” are (or should be?) difficult to ignore. Part of it is an emotional response, part of it are the thoughts it provokes?

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I agree – this gentle call to action is difficult to ignore, particularly if we know that the poet has experience trauma and uncertainty. There are many self-help books that provide excellent advice on how to control our thoughts, but as you said so well, our “emotional responses” influence our thoughts and actions. We live within a complex world that revolves around us with dizzying speed. I have found that reading and reciting poetry has been a meditative experience that fosters a sense of peace and well-being. Many thanks for your visit and comments.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. That is a profound idea, and maybe that’s what poetry should bring up. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Frankl “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms, to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

        Liked by 2 people

  1. This is beautiful, Rebecca. To purge and scourge ugly thoughts is a worthwhile way to make our way through the day. Through her suffering Mrs. Wilds knew well what to hold and what to send on its way. She has indeed cheered my soul, as have you with your lovely reading in the greenery.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I can only imagine Myra Viola Wilds’ despair at losing her eyesight, Mary Jo. And then to have an unanticipated epiphany on March 10th, 1914, at 3am – the timing so specific – that transformed her life was remarkable. It must have been a transcendent moment of pure joy and elation. It cheered my soul too. I wanted to feature nature especially today as it is World Environment Day, with a theme of “only one earth.” Many thanks for your support and encouragement – poetry allows us to experience these moments of “joy and elation” together! Hugs!!!

      Liked by 3 people

    1. I am delighted that you joined me on this nature walk, Joanna! Poetic words go deep into our souls and allows us to experience a heightened awareness of our individuality. Many thanks for your comments!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I am delighted that you joined me on top of Burnaby Mountain, Margaret. There are many excellent nature trails to follow within Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area which is the home of Simon Fraser University as well as black tail deer, coyotes, bald eagles. And we are told to be aware that black bears and cougars are occasional visitors. It is an area designated to protect forests, wetlands, plant life, wildlife and water. It is a perfect place to recite poetry. Thank you for your visit and comments – very much appreciated.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. And yet…. That is exactly what I felt, Shey. While poetry has evolved from the time of Myra Viola Wilds, there is a consistency in exploring and understanding the human experience. I have read that there is a preference for free-verse. “Rhyming poetry” has fallen out of favour because it seems often forced and unnatural. But I would challenge free-verse to seek out the passion and commitment that is embedded in the poetry of Myra Viola Wilds. I found her poetry collection in the Internet Archives. She is full of surprises. For example, her poem, “A Foolish Man” which speaks about caring for animals by connecting foolish with uncaring.

      A foolish man came riding by,
      A wise man said, your horse will die.
      Said the fool, if he dies,
      I’ll tan his skin,
      And if he lives, I’ll ride him again.”

      Many thanks for your visit and comments!! Sending hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a touching preface to her first book did Myra Viola Wilds pen. I can’t but help admire her strength of character, her humility, and the fortitude it must have taken to complete her work.
    And, my dear Rebecca, you did a sterling reading of her work. Thank you for the introduction!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Many thanks for your heartwarming comments, Carolyn. I agree – strength of character, her humility and fortitude was remarkable. I was able to find Myra Viola Wilds’s poetry collection on Internet Archives. I enjoyed her poem “Spring”

      Oh! What joy and peace and cheer,
      Fill our hearts, when spring is near
      Gone is winter’s chilly blast,
      Birds and flowers return at last.
      Butterflies in dresses gay,
      They, too have started on their way
      Spring is here!
      Now let us cheer,
      The happiest day of all the year.”

      Myra Viola Wilds employed rhyming words. I have used various phrasings that nuance the recitation. I am enjoy reciting poetry and it is my hope that I will encourage others do recite as well. It is a meditative experience.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “It is a meditative experience.”
        This is true, Rebecca; a wonderful way to connect with our inner selves.
        I have been wondering if you have, tucked away, poems that you have created yourself.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Many thanks for joining me on top of Burnaby Mountain, Dave. We visited on a “quiet day” that will be changed today as the bagpipers pipe in the graduating class of 2022. Simon Fraser University holds their graduation ceremonies under a covered open air auditorium. When my son graduated is was a very cold and rainy day. We were given blankets to warm ourselves. They were so comfortable that many people, thinking they may be gifts, carried them with them when the ceremony was over. Volunteers were running to retain the blankets for the next convocation.

      My journey into public domain poetry has been extradinary. While poetry has evolved over the years, what remains constant is the search to find meaning, to explore how to live authentically, with purpose and passion.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this so much and to hear it repeated out loud while on the grounds of Simon Fraser University, makes it extra special. Our thoughts are unique and special to each of us.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Many thanks for joining me virtually at Simon Fraser University. Did you know that there are hints that there may be a gondola built to carry students up the mountain? I am very much interested in how voice and speaking adds richness to the poetry experience. Reciting poetry brings a sense of well-being. But I have also found that I gain a greater understanding of the poet’s message. I continue to learn and learn and learn….

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks for adding profound insight into this conversation. I agree wholeheartedly, we are the outcome of our thoughts. And these we take to the very end. This theme is recurring thought throughout history. I think of Marcus Aurelius “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” Or Apostle Paul, “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely…..think about such things. Or Buddha “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows….

      I am delighted we connected, Barb. I enjoy our conversations.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am delighted that you enjoyed this poetry recitation. I was able to find Myra Viola Wilds’ poetry collection on Internet Archives, which I was able to download onto Kindle. She has a very interesting way of encouraging active thoughtfulness. For example, her poem “When you feel a little blue,” starts out

      Wlein you feel a little blue,
      Kinder good for nothing, too,
      And you try your best to rouse yourself and can’t,
      Think about the busy bee,
      as he flies from tree to tree,
      Then stop and take a lesson from the ant…”

      Liked by 1 person

  4. So you were able to get to Burnaby Mountain, such a beautiful place! ! Thank you for your comments, so really poetic in themselves, beautiful spoken, really! Thank you for reciting the poem, so well done! Thank you, also, for the information about the poet and her life of blindness and her writing experiences..

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I am so pleased that you enjoyed this poetry recitation. I have learned a great deal about current poetry by going back into poetry of the past. While there are differences in form and approaches, I find more similarities in the message: dealing with uncertainty, building resilience, valuing time, living an authentic life. I find poetry recitation a meditative experience! Many thanks for your kind words of support and encouragement.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Rebecca, this line: Man, though high may be his station,
    Is no better than his thoughts. is profound.
    I attended a meeting yesterday where everyone was trying to talk although they didn’t understand the problem. I have discovered that people in senior positions often think their position means everyone must listen to them and they no longer need to listen and learn. If you don’t listen you don’t learn and that is a fact.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. While I was over at Dave’s blog a short while ago, reading your comment, I thought about the audio book experience for different people. Audio books have become a very popular medium and a lot of people seem to find more time to listen than to read. I listen to classic books on audio because I read very fast and I like to listen to these books at a slower pace. That way, I don’t miss anything and get to really appreciate the language and descriptions. Other readers have said the opposite, they like to listen to ‘lighter’ books as audio books because they don’t need to focus as much and they like to read more complex books. I thought this would make for such an interesting discussion with you and DAve. Anyhow, just a thought.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I think this is an excellent thought, Robbie and one that I am VERY interested in. The power of voice to connect has been long recognized.. You have sent me on a mini research adventure. I will connect with Dave and you, but you must be part of the conversation too.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thank you, Robbie and Rebecca! I think the experience of reading a book vs. the experience of listening to a book is a TERRIFIC topic of discussion. But I’m not the right person to be a part of it. I have literally never listened to a book in my life — always reading them instead. Weird, I know. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I don’t think that’s weird at all, Dave. Actually, you would be the ideal person to discuss this simply because you have not listened to an audiobook. I have been thinking on broader terms. I believe hearing is both through the mind (I sometimes hear a voice when I read) and through listening to a voice. It is the idea of listening that interests me. Why do children respond to hearing a parent read a book and how does this transform and inform their literacy skillsets? Lots of things rolling around in my thinking. So thanks Robbie and Dave for giving me something to consider going forward.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Hi Rebecca, that is a very interesting idea. Some people are far more inclined to auditory learning than visual learning. My Michael is one. I am a person who trained myself to zone out external noise and focus so I often don’t ‘hear’ people talking to me. My sons get upset because I don’t hear them ask me something and it takes me a few seconds to switch from visual to auditory. I have to reset my mind.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. HI Dave, that isn’t weird, I only started listening to audio books about 5 years ago. Frankly, I never thought about it before that and it was only because I bought audio books for Michael during his many periods of illness that it ever occurred to me that audiobooks were fun.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. I agree wholeheartedly, Robbie. Your words “if you don’t listen you don’t learn and that is a fact” resonated. Listening is an invaluable skill that is very difficult to nurture because we want to achieve two outcomes in a conversation/discussion. 1) wanting to be heard 2) wanting to be understood. And that requires that the other person/group wants to hear and understand your position. I believe that the top-down approaches carry risk to the growth and well-being of an organization or community. A couple of years ago, I was introduced to Mary Parker Follett (1868 – 1933), an American social worker, management consultant, philosopher and pioneer in the fields of organization theory and organizational behaviour. This is one of my favourite “leadership” quotes:

      “Leadership is not defined by the exercise of power but by the capacity to increase the sense of power among those led. The most essential work of the leader is to create more leaders.” Mary Parker Follett

      Liked by 1 person

    1. They are indeed, Jennifer. Reading poetry in public domain has been an extraordinary adventure. There was a meditative theme that comes through. Her poem “Dewdrops” brings out Myra Viola Wilds’s love of nature, which accentuates her gentle call to action.

      Watch the dewdrops in the morning,
      Shake their little diamond heads,
      Sparkling, flashing, ever moving,
      From their silent little beds.

      See the grass! Each blade is brightened,
      Roots are strengthened by their stay;
      Like the dewdrops, let us scatter
      Gems of love along the way.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. This was so beautiful, and the words ring so true! I like the idea of the thoughts, ‘burnished brightly’, as if polished to perfection. And I like the concept of setting these thoughts ‘free with love’. Lovely is not a strong enough word for these lyrics, and yet, lovely is the word that comes to mind. Your reading of this poem was wonderful, and the place you chose for the reading, marvelous. I like your introduction as well about the mist and that the rain will come later. All in all, this was a deeply moving reading. The author of this poem was a beautiful soul, and her words inspire us today. Thank you for sharing her life story and this incredible poem.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Many thanks for your thoughtful comments, Linda. Words like “burnished” remind me of hard work and the commitment to the task at hand. What Myra Viola Wilds is asking us to do is to control our thoughts which is difficult to do, especially when emotions are heightened. Words like honor, love and freedom are are choices that we make every day. I am delighted that you joined me on Burnaby Mountain.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. “Our thoughts make up what our day is going to be.” What a wonderful truth and so beautifully reflected in Wilds’ poem. We carry around a huge responsibility in our thoughts as they can make or break us. A poignant preface too, Rebecca. Thanks for sharing that as well. Have a lovely walk filled with wonderful thoughts. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I remember when I first started to recite poetry, Resa. Yikes!! I forgot to take breaths in between stanzas and then found that I was huffing and puffing by the end of a phrase. What I want to do now is to recite Shakespeare’s sonnets, but I confess they do intimidate me. Many thanks for your heartwarming and encouraging comments. Sending hugs and more hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I came across your blog and this post by chance while browsing and what a wonderful gift you have given and such beauty shared. Absolutely perfect for what my heart needed right now and I look forward to reading more. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

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