Standing between yesterday’s history and tomorrow’s mystery,
he clung to the wings of a dream with a hope born anew.
Hope was the last item in Pandora’s box.
Hope is the well that the desert hides somewhere within it.
But he saw his companions falling on the way, falling dead.
They had hope, they had dreams,
that they would be free next Christmas.
When Christmas passed, they postponed their dream
to next Easter.
Easter too came and went.
Too many broken promises of hopes and dreams
break the wings.
Break the heart.
Face the reality, he said to himself.
We are in hell, that’s the truth.
How to beat the heat, find the ways.
That’s the real hope.
Hope is not a longing.
Hope is not a dream.
Hope is the toil that breaks the shackle
bit by bit.
The last item in Pandora’s box.
Note: The poem was inspired by the Stockdale Paradox. Admiral Jim Stockdale was a United States military officer held captive for eight years during the Vietnam War. He was tortured more than twenty times by his captors and never had much reason to believe he would survive the prison. He saw his companions losing their hope with each passing Christmas and Easter to which they had attached their dreams and hopes. He did not nurture such hopes and dreams. Instead he worked on developing a code with which he could communicate with other prisoners. He discovered a way of passing certain secret information to his wife too using the code he had developed. He knew hope was not just a dream. A hope that is a mere dream can kill. That is Stockdale Paradox.