“Forever” by Terri Nicole Tharrington is a quick-paced poem that presents the positive and negative elements that go along with the broad concept of “forever.” The layers of complexity covered mimic the overall idea of “forever,” and the concept to take from the poem seems to be that while “forever” does give us a “hop[e]” of today’s “torture” becoming something brighter, we can never fully know that the brightness will come since we are “oblivious” to what is approaching in the future. Regardless, we should continue to pursue this “forever” when we are strong enough to do so, and in doing so, “our hearts” remain “alive.” You can read the full poem here.
There is a paradox within these lines, given that they begin with the term, “Forever.” That term comes with a never-ending reach, though there are definite beginnings and endings to the time ideas presented within the lines. Without question, “the future,” “the past,” and the present are all under the unending umbrella of “forever,” but these sections of time have those definite beginnings and endings. Though the present quickly shifts into “the past” as moments travel by, we will always be in the present with “the future” ahead of us and “the past” behind us. The definite endings, however, are nearly mocked by the presence of that beginning “Forever” since time as we know it remains in that same cycle. No matter how many beginnings there are within “Forever,” “Forever” itself is something we will never escape or reach the end of.
This cycle, as it happens, is not treated as a pleasant experience since every description afforded it in these lines is negative. For instance, “we remain oblivious to the future” speaks of a lack of knowledge and preparation, which indicates that we are walking blindly into what awaits us. Contrariwise, we are “lost to the past,” meaning we are essentially slaves to it, as if fighting to break free is a “lost” cause. Meanwhile, we are “enduring our torture” in the present, and this concept may be the bleakest idea of all. We are not just a slave to the time, like with “the past,” nor are we unware and “oblivious.” Rather, we suffer “torture.”
This entire concept paints a very unflattering portrait of “forever” as it seems as though there is nothing pleasant at any given point. It is a cycle of different times, but all with some level of unhappiness brought with them.
These lines change the focus from how lacking every moment in time is to what we must do while we are in this “forever.” It is worth noting, however, that what we must do is still labeled as a struggle since we must “take chances to settle our scores,” like we must fight for something to so much as break even. The narration continues to note that “some battles” will not end in victory, but a splash of pleasantry does arise with the ending of Line 5. Specifically, we will be “winning some wars.”
This is evidence that even though we must fight “forever,” in this poet’s estimation, we will have victory at times. In fact, the overall message in Line 5 is that victory will be the main consequence. After all, “battles” will be “lost,” which are small increments that are individual parts of an ongoing struggle. The “wars” that we will “win” have a more decisive element to them since “war” is a series of “battles” as one. If something as large as a “war” is where we find our “win,” our overall life is a victory. In this, we still have a negative view of “forever,” but with a glimpse of “hop[e]” that was not present among the first lines’ notions of “oblivious[ness]” and “los[s].”
Lines 5-6, as well, mirror this same concept of “hop[e]” and struggle since the poet refers to “praying” without fully believing that “someone will hear,” which indicates desperation and a need for further help than what the average man has at his disposal. This concept continues in Line 6 when the poet notes that people in life are “crying softly” without “shedding a tear.” This particular element, however, comes with a unique detail in that “crying” in a literal sense can be seen as weakness or an indication that a person cannot accomplish something on their own, but the notion that no “tear” falls shows an outward strength. It seems, then, that as we journey through this “forever” and fight “battles” and “wars,” we put on brave faces against the “future” things we do not know, “the past” things that haunt us, and the present things that “torture” us. This reveals strength despite the “crying” in that people can walk in this manner without “shedding a tear.”
Overall, “forever,” thus far, is a paradox of good and bad, struggle and “hop[e],” and the poet seems to believe that we are capable of being strong in it, even if we “lose battles” and “cry” along the way. This makes for a complex situation, which pairs with the complexity of “forever” in general. “Forever” is inexplicable, so it makes sense to deal with it in a manner that is so layered in possibility of both good and bad.
Ironically, the “forever” that was treated as a thing that brings “battles” and “oblivious[ness]” is noted in these final lines as being what “keeps our hearts alive.” Interesting as well is that “forever” is addressed as so cryptic that it is “behind a disguise.” Essentially, these two lines bring a wrap-up feel to both the positives and negatives that were already addressed in the earlier portions of the poem. We have “hop[e]” as we head toward “forever,” and that can be linked to the notion that “our hearts” are “alive.” However, we are also “oblivious” because of the mystery of not being able to see our “future” because ideas beyond our present time are “behind a disguise.”
This is a nice wrap-up to the poem’s ideas, but the reader might wonder what, in the end, this says about people and their perception of “forever.” It could be that our “battles” and “wars”—and other things that are negative in this life—are seen only as current “torture[s],” and the continued idea that something better exists ahead of us is something that keeps us going. The promise of a better tomorrow could stand as “hop[e]” to get through a struggle today, so we keep pressing onward toward a time we know little to nothing of in “hop[es]” that there is something pleasant behind the “disguise.” It is an unsure thing, but that uncertainty is exactly what makes it something to pursue.
Overall, the reader can take from this poem that we are small in connection to “forever,” and that “forever” is a cycle we can never escape. As well, the reader should “hop[e]” and strive for something good to come within “forever,” but be aware that negative happenings are also a part of the package.
About Terri Nicole Tharrington
Terri Nicole Tharrington is a member of the US Navy with a knack for writing. Her poetry is relatively unknown, but her explored topic in this poem reveals her ability with writing in general.