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The Best and Worst of Times

“It was the best of times, it was …” but how
Can anyone forget those words once pearled
By Dickens so very long ago; and now,
Do we ourselves not live in such a world?

Don’t we have the best of everything:
Appliances, computers, other tech
And manufactured goods to which we cling;
And yet, too often feel that life’s a wreck?

You’ll find a myriad of ways to cope
Online, where help is always just one link
Or app away to give you greater hope.
In light of all this technic wiz, you’d think

That this would be a golden age of wisdom;
Instead, it feels more like this age is dumb.

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Cheryl Corey’s recent credits include the current issue of Iconoclast and www.grand-little-things.com. Other publications include Iambs & Trochees, Deronda, The NeoVictorian/Cochlea, The Comstock Review, Mobius, and Time of Singing. In 2007 she received 1st Place for the Dylan Thomas Award and Honorable Mention for the June Kraeft Memorial Award in The World Order of Narrative and Formalist Poets contest.


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10 Responses

  1. Paul Freeman

    You have a point. And well poetically put!

    Thanks for the read, Cheryl.

    Reply
  2. BRIAN YAPKO

    Cheryl, I agree with Paul. A good read. And an important subject! Our society’s misery increases daily even as it becomes more and more dedicated to material things and instant gratification. Thank you for shining a spotlight on that!

    Reply
    • Cheryl Corey

      That opening paragraph by Dickens, in my opinion, is the greatest of all time. I read it again this morning and thought – wow. I wonder how historians will some day look back upon this era. I wouldn’t call it an age of reason, wisdom, or enlightenment. If anything, it strikes me as an age of chaos.

      Reply
      • Brian Yapko

        I agree with you. A Tale of Two Cities is one of my favorites. Sydney Carton’s story and sacrifice moves me deeply. As for the times we live in…? Chaos is good. But I myself would call it the age of narcissism.

  3. Norma Okun

    I think the characters depicted in Dicken’s works are as alive today as they were then. Our systems of communication are still not good enough. Man’s inhumanity to man still survives. It is his care for life and good that made him great.

    Reply
  4. Margaret Coats

    Good title from Dickens, Cheryl, but the best lines are your own last three. “Technic wiz” is a fine colloquialism for what we have, suggesting both “whiz” and “wizardry.” The couplet gives us a marvel of unexpected play with both meter and rhyme. “Wisdom” is a clever rhyme with “is dumb,” but the rhyme is imperfect because of the accent placement. That works in an unsettling way, as it should. When the reader gets to the emphatic stress on “dumb,” that’s your point! It means both stupid and incapable of speech, as are so many who spend hours and days and nights focused on the screen, and come out of it more confused than when they started.

    Reply
    • Cheryl Corey

      Margaret, I appreciate your critical eye. I find it fascinating to learn what other people objectively think, how they interpret the poem, and their analysis of its technical merits and/or faults.

      Reply
      • Margaret Coats

        In case I wasn’t entirely clear, the imperfect rhyme, and the variation in meter between the two couplet lines, are merits! They contribute to meaning in a highly original way.

  5. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Cheryl, I love Dickens’ inspiration and the conversational feel of a poem that gets its message across clearly, concisely, and with huge impact in the closing couplet. Yours are wise words of warning that all should hear. Thank you!

    Reply
  6. David Watt

    Cheryl, Dickens was an excellent starting point for your poem, as he was a master of social observation. Your poetic observation is right on the mark.

    Reply

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