Ode to Hackneyed

Ode to words I do not know

I came across hackneyed when reading Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Remarkable book. Should be required reading for everyone. Truly, utterly, inspirational. Frankl uses the word ‘hackneyed’ when he recalls the return home from Nazi concentration camps:

Bitterness was caused by a number of things he came up against in his former home town. When, on his return, a man found that in many places he was met only with a shrug of the shoulders and with hackneyed phrases, he tended to become bitter and to ask himself why he had gone through all that he had. When he heard the same phrases nearly everywhere—”We did not know about it,”and “We, too, have suffered,” then he asked himself, have they really nothing better to say to me?

My poem –“Ode to Hackneyed” covers a far lighter subject matter. Though maybe that fact should not be taken lightly. Frankl himself articulates the power of humor in the camps: “Humor was another of the soul’s weapons in the fight for self-preservation. It is well known that humor, more than anything else in the human make-up, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds.”

This great man passed in 1997. I’d like to think my silly ode would have made him laugh. Someone who went through what he did deserved every smile he could get.

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