Two Truths and a Challenge

hhj spc 3

Post copyright 2015 by Doris McCraw

I’m adding something new this time around. It has been awhile since Helen (Hunt) Jackson made an appearance in my blog post. Since I’m reviewing her life and work for an upcoming presentation in Castle Rock, Colorado at their library, I thought I would share my thoughts on one of my favorite poems of hers.

In November 13,1873 Helen had her poem “Two Truths” published in the ‘New York Independent’. The publication came out shortly after Helen had arrived in Colorado Springs for her health.

There are many things I like about this poem. Firstly, I enjoy the dialogue that composes most of the poem. It’s like you are overhearing a private conversation. Those first lines feel like a scene in a movie. You see the errant husband coming through the door, contrite for some offense. The wife, happy to see him return, immediately absolves him of any crime. Then the meat of the piece comes in the final sentences,  overhearing the wife’s private thought.

Helen (Hunt) Jackson

Secondly, there is a greater depth to the piece than the few short lines would indicate. Taking the ‘lovers’ out of the occasion and we see a deeper insight into human nature. There are in fact two truths in almost all human interaction. The truth we tell the world and the truth that lies beneath.

Although at first reading, Helen’s poems are beautiful and her use of language amazing. When one takes the time to go beyond the words to the meaning, there is a greater depth than most would take the time to see, but time that would be well spent.

Two Truths

by H.H. (Helen Hunt Jackson)

“Darling” he said, “I never meant

To hurt you;” and his eyes were wet.

“I would not hurt you for the world:

Am I to blame if I forget?”

“Forgive my selfish tears!” she cried,

“Forgive! I knew that is was not

Because you meant to hurt me, sweet-

I knew it was that you forgot!”

But all the same, deep in her heart

Rankled this thought, and rankles yet,-

“When live is at its best, one loves

So much that he cannot forget.”

I would also challenge you to write a story or similar poem from these wise words that Helen wrote so long ago. If you take this challenge, share them on the Writing Wranglers and Warriors Facebook page or send to my email:

home for his heart angela raines

also available as an ebook on Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

Or my lastest “Cowboy Celebration”

Doris Gardner-McCraw/Angela Raines
Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

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15 thoughts on “Two Truths and a Challenge

  1. An interesting and deep poem. It makes you wonder what he forgot. I assume a special date, anniversary perhaps. I don’t have time right now to take your challenge, but I hope some of the other Wranglers will. My mind is ticking away at possibilities though. LOL Cher’ley


    1. Cher’ley, it is a very deep poem, and when you consider it was written in the 1870’s it becomes even more amazing. I hope some folks take the challenge also, but when you mind quits ticking, send or publish what you came up with. (Smile) Doris


  2. Oh, the heart and mind of a woman when the man she loves forgets something important … or doesn’t pay attention/disregards something she values. Helen wisely speaks to those who love and feel brushed aside – – thanks for sharing, Doris. I will try to put forth something for your challenge, perhaps something from the romance story I started last fall — maybe it will trigger a “pick it up again” fiber in me! LOL


    1. Gayle, I would love to see you ‘pick up the romance story’. I can’t wait to read it. Helen was so wise and such an amazing writer. One of my goals is to make sure she and her work don’t get lost. Here’s to Helen, writing and the ‘challenge’ Doris


    1. Kate, Like you I’m in the midst of getting a story written, and I’m on deadline, but this poem calls to a person in so many ways. I look forward to what you may write.
      Here’s to the current story you’re working on. Best to you. Doris


  3. Great insight into a woman’s mind. I’ve been on the wrong side of it several times.

    So you asked for a poem. Here is my response from the other side of the equation. Let me know what you think.

    “What? What did I do?” he asked
    Her glare was like a hostile sword lunging at him.
    “Seriously, you gotta help me here.
    I can’t learn my lesson if I don’t know the infraction.”
    “Of course you don’t know,” she said, wiping her eyes.
    His mind raced: birthdays, anniversaries, bills —
    Nada. Nothing came to his mind.
    “Can you give me a hint, at least?
    I can only feel bad for so long.”
    “It’s not important to you, obviously, so why bother.”
    He threw his hands in the air. After an exhausting workday,
    grinding through rush hour traffic to come home to this.
    His phone buzzed breaking the silent stalemate.
    He glanced at a text from Sam:
    “Chicken wings, Buds and football. U n?”
    “Who’s that?”
    “Nobody,” he said putting the phone back his pocket.
    How bad he wanted to go. He could taste the wings,
    the cold beer. Feel the warm leather on Sam’s couch
    Watching the game; shouting at the TV; belching.
    No politics.
    No obfuscation.
    Just living in the moment.
    Pure, transparent enjoyment.
    A magnificent unwinding from the daily BS.
    He looked over at her.
    Arms crossed tight in a righteous fury.
    No, he couldn’t go.
    Not tonight.
    He had to repair something.
    Put a band-aid on something
    And stop the flow.
    Of course the wound,
    Whatever it was,
    Had an unfathomable depth.
    It might never fully mend regardless of what he did tonight…
    Or the rest of his life.
    He walked up to her with arms out. Face contrite.
    She turned away with an exaggerated sigh.
    It was going to be a long night.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Travis, you captured what I feel is the other perspective perfectly. I throughly enjoyed your offering. I think you should think about putting it out there. (In my opinion) I am glad you were able to see ‘the other’ side. (Smile) Thank you for taking the time to write the poem! Doris


  4. Doris- I agree, it’s great response by Travis. As for the Helen H Jackson one I think the era has to be taken into account as well as the potential scenarios of what he may, or may not, have done or forgotten. That ‘waiting for the man of the house to come home’ situation, which most women faced back in the 1870s, must have frayed many a nerve. Some of the festering feelings, of perhaps injustice, I can imagine would have been magnified if the woman in question had nothing else to occupy her thoughts.


    1. Nancy, I agree. I also know, Helen probably wasn’t one to sit around and wait. She was and is so fascinating to me. Still she had a great eye for people and situations, which gives her writing a pretty contemporary feel.

      I agree, Travis’s response was priceless. I loved it. Doris


    1. Travis, I know the best place to send it will show up, but I’ll also keep looking. There is Poetry magazine to start with. Doris


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