Updated on 07.31.14

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #18

Trent Hamm

Each week, I highlight ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well.

1. The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes
I spent part of this week assembling a handmade book of poetry to read to our children in the evenings and on road trips, so this inspiration list will include several of these. I’ll share the first stanza of each

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding, riding, riding,
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes tells the tale of a dashing thief on the run. It’s perhaps the most enjoyable poem I’ve ever run across for reading aloud, as it just magically flows off your tongue.

2. Sarah
My wife is my tag team partner in every aspect of life.


When I sit down and think about the week just past, I’m often stunned when I realize how often the two of us are simply in sync on all kinds of things.

3. Pioneers! O Pioneers! by Walt Whitman

Come my tan-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready,
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes?
Pioneers! O pioneers!

For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,
We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O you youths, Western youths,
So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship,
Plain I see you Western youths, see you tramping with the foremost,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

This poem makes me reflect on the power of the human spirit and what we can accomplish if we put our minds to it.

4. The Art Institute of Chicago
Once a year, we go to Chicago to visit family. During that trip, we try to do something in the Chicago area that we can’t really do around here.

Over the past few months, our two oldest children have really taken an interest in art, particularly impressionist and post-impressionist painting.

Lo and behold, The Art Institute of Chicago has an amazing gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist works. Looks like we’ve got something on our schedule for this summer.

(Yes, I have a three year old girl who sat on my lap as we looked at thumbnails of impressionist art for the time it took to get through the whole online gallery. I think she’ll do just fine at the museum.)

5. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

More than any other poem, Where the Sidewalk Ends makes me want to go explore.

6. A walk in the woods
We spent much of last weekend walking in the woods. We found several mushrooms, but more importantly, we found wonderful forests alive with the new growth of spring.

7. There is another sky by Emily Dickinson

There is another sky,
Ever serene and fair,
And there is another sunshine,
Though it be darkness there;
Never mind faded forests, Austin,
Never mind silent fields –
Here is a little forest,
Whose leaf is ever green;
Here is a brighter garden,
Where not a frost has been;
In its unfading flowers
I hear the bright bee hum:
Prithee, my brother,
Into my garden come!

Where is our private place? Where can we go where we can feel some separation from the world, some deep solace?

8. Max
The faithful companion of two of my closest friends passed away this week. He was a wonderful dog. I’ll miss him.

9. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Make your life something worth living for. What mark are you putting on this world?

10. Hurt
This song makes me think of some of the people I’ve lost in my life. I would give anything to take back some of the mistakes I’ve made.

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  1. Steven says:

    Have you heard the original version of Hurt by Nine Inch Nails? Cash’s version is far superior in my opinion, and it gives me chills everytime I listen to it. So much emotion listening to the “last words” of a legend like Cash. It’s such a beautiful song and really means so much…so powerful.

  2. I own the Johnny Cash video Hurt. It is very powerful. Glad you included it. Also, I look forward to this series all week. I have found many new pieces of inspiration to incorporate into my own life. Thanks Trent.

  3. Jules says:

    The Highwayman? It’s a beautiful poem to read, sure, but I find it rather…well, grisly.

  4. chuck says:

    Very nice trent. i was wondering when your wife would show up on these inspirations! i know she inspires you alot.

  5. Nancy says:

    I had never heard the Johnny Cash version of Hurt. Blew me away!

  6. Sheila says:

    Loreena McKennitt set the poem to music, it’s on her 1997 album “The Book of Secrets” — you can probably find it on YouTube.

  7. Emma says:

    It is so nice of you to bring out your wife as an inspiration in life. She is so beautiful and sincere. Thank you for sharing your family with us.

  8. Amanda says:

    I love doing art museums, even with the kids. While I can’t be as leisurely as I would like, it’s a great experience for all of us. I was amazed at how fascinated my 6 week old was when we went to the MOMA. And he still loves going to the St Louis Art museum where we live now at almost 2.

  9. Interested Reader says:

    I love The Highwayman! I read it originally in a set of Childcraft books (poetry and stories for kids) that my grandmother had and trying to memorize it.

    I never thought of it as grisly – but then I also love the poem The Sea Lullaby by Elinor Wylie and also wanted to grow up and be part of The Addams Family …

    I have to say though I don’t think it works the way Loreena McKinnet sings it. Plus she leaves out the end, which I think is part of the pay off for poem.

    If you haven’t already heard Cash’s version of Personal Jesus check it out. It’s definitely a song that he’s made sound his own and doesn’t sound like a cover.

  10. chuck says:

    no afternoon post today trent? good for you! you give us alot of great stuff to read and could prolly use a break sometimes! hope your off having a great time.

  11. katy says:

    I grew up near Chicago and visited the Art Institute often. Two other exhibits that are not to be missed for your kids are their extensive collection of armor / swords and the Thorne rooms, which are incredibly detailed dollhouse rooms. Those were always my first two stops at the museum as a child.

  12. Georgia says:

    Thank you.

  13. Creede says:

    Very nice post today. I remember reading that when someone asked Trent Reznor what he thought of Johnny Cash’s version of his song, he said simply, “It’s not my song anymore.”

  14. Stephanie says:

    Definitely don’t miss the Thorne rooms. When my kids were little, I let them bring a sketch pad and pencils with them to the museum; they liked drawing the paintings.

  15. SwingCheese says:

    I agree, Interested Reader. I’d not read the poem before, so I checked out the link, and it didn’t strike as grisly so much as sad. But perhaps I’m overly sentimental :)

  16. AnnJo says:

    For poems that are great to read out loud, my niece LOVED The Bells by Edgar Alan Poe, and had a lot of fun memorizing it and reciting it. There is an age (if I remember correctly around 4 to 7 or thereabouts) when children actually enjoy memorization and that is a great time to teach multiplication tables, table of elements, poetry and orations.

  17. Christine says:

    “Hurt” is probably one of the best things I’ve listened to first thing in the morning. Starting my day with the yearning to “find a way” will affect everything I do today. I, too, have made mistakes I regret, but this song reminds me that I have a new slate every waking minute. Thank you, Trent.

  18. kristine says:

    nice post!

  19. AliceH says:

    I am so sorry about the loss of your dog Max. The love from an animal is so unconditional that to lose it makes a hole in our hearts that is always there. New animals and time shrink it but they live inside us forever.

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