Poetry - Dear Diary Expo
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Dear Diary: A Celebration of Diaries and their Digital Descendants

Poetry by diarists from the Great Diary Project archive

Courtesy of The Great Diary Project

GDP 252 Rachel Smith

Others can label me

as they see fit,

but no mould

can hold me.

I am a woman of independence.


My life lies between schisms.

And glass slippers

Don’t come in half sizes.

Women like me

Have to re-write the fairy tales.

GDP 311 Anonymous

19 September 1903

‘The Kiss’

A kiss is a peculiar proposition.

Of no use to one, yet absolute bliss

To two. The small boy gets it for nothing,

The young man has to steal it, [and] the

Old man has to buy it. The baby’s right,

The lovers privilege, the hypocrite’s mask.

To a young girl, faith; to a married woman

Hope, [and] to an old maid charity.

31 December 1903

‘To My Mother’ (No 1)

To carry high the head has with me grown,

My thoughts too bear of pride a certain trace;

E’en should a monarch look me in the face,

I would not cast my eyes a moment down.


Yet; dearest Mother, candidly I own:

However proudly intellect may pace,

It oft to meeklier diffidence gives place

When in thy happy presence I’m alone.


Is it thy mind which mine o’ershadows quite,

Thy noble mind, which all things marks aright,

And touches Heaven in its meteor flight,

Or pains remembrance, when on acts I dwell

Which made thy heart with shame [and] anguish swell?

That gracious heart, which love me so well!


‘To My Mother’ (No 2)

In some mad fit I once had left thy side,

Bent on a journey to the world’s wide end;

To find out this same love I did intend,

And full of love, with love secured, abide.


In every alley love to find I tried,

At every door I did the hand extend,

And begged at least a something for Love’s friend,

But smiling with cold hatred they replied.


And ever thus I sought for Love, ay ever

For Love I sought, but Love discovered never,

So sick and sad I homewards thought to move.

‘twas then thou can’st to meet me as I fly,

And ah! What is it swimming in thine eye?

It was that sweet, that long desired Love.

23 April 1908


We may travel over mountain [and] meadow,

We may journey through valley [and] dell;

We may ride on the waves of the ocean,

And hear the sweet story they tell;

But unless we bear burdens for others,

And lift up the heads that are bent,

We can never hope to discover

That greatest of treasures content.


We may dwell in a palace of splendour;

We may juggle with nuggets of gold;

But unless we are loving [and] tender,

Our hearts will be heavy [and] cold.

Help others! The day will grow brighter,

The way that the Nazarene went;

And lo! Our own load will be lighter,

And we’ll find the great treasure content.

4 May 1908

‘My Creed’

I would be true, for there are those who trust me;

I would be pure, for there are those who care;

I would be strong for there is much to suffer;

I would be brave for there is much to dare.


I would be friend of all – the poor, the friendless’

I would be giving and forget the gift;

I would be humble, for I know my weakness;

I would look up – and laugh – and love – and lift.

27 June 1909

‘What is a woman?’

To a painter – a model;

To a doctor – a subject;

To a farmer – a housewife;

To a invalid – a nurse;

To a Parisian – a dowry;

To a naturalist – a female;

To a Huron – a beast of burden;

To a Roman – a woman of the world;

To a college don – an angel;

To a poet – a flower;

To one without occupation – a plaything;

To a Christian – a companion.

28 September 1910

‘Tiresome Days’

There are occasions when we find

Each person angry and unkind.

Whilst everything goes wrong we say

And nothing right the live-long day

Then suddenly we realise

Full often to our own surprise

That after making such a fuss

The source of trouble lies with us

For we observe [and] must confess,

That when we check our selfishness

Things very soon go right again.

21 August 1911

They fought all day with might [and] maim;

And when the sun was set

The victors longed to fight again –

The vanquished, to forget.


There is many a cruel thorn,

Many a roaring lion,

Many a stone by footsteps worn,

On the road that leads to Lion.


Rank [and] wealth I pass unheeding,

Never giving them their due,

For my heart [and] soul are needing

Nothing in the world but you.


If you will only give me time,

And likewise opportunity,

To earth’s high places I will climb

And govern the community.

23 April 1912

‘Sorrow’s Uses’

The uses of sorrow I comprehend

Better [and] better at each year’s end.

Deeper [and] deeper I seem to see

Why and wherefore it has to be.

Only after the dark wet days

Do we fully rejoice in the sun’s bright rays

Sweeter the crush tastes after the fast

Than the sated gourmand’s finest repast.


The faintest cheer sounds never amiss

To the actor who once has heard a hiss

To one who the sadness of freedom knows

Light seem the fetters love may impose


And he who has dwelt with his heart alone

Hears all the music in friendships tone

So better [and] better I comprehend

How sorrow ever would be our friend.

‘I will observe, in parenthesis, that Heine says that a true autobiography is almost an impossibility, and that man is bound to lie about himself. He considers that Rousseau certainly told lies about himself in his confessions, and even intentionally lied, out of vanity. I am convinced that Heine is right.’
Dostoyevsky, The Adolescent.