September 1, 2022

Poetry to help your public speaking: Meet Mary Viola Wilds

Poems to Read Aloud , Public Speaking , The Buckley Experience

The Buckley School's founder believed that all public speakers should hone their presentation skills by reading poetry out loud. We keep that worthwhile practice alive by including a poem in our magazine each month for you to read aloud. Above, a portrait of Mary Viola Wilds that appeared in her book of poems, "Thoughts of Idle Hours," published in 1915.

"I send out my first little book trusting it may find kind, considerate friends."

– Myra Viola Wilds, in the preface to her collection of poems

Perhaps you, like us, have not previously come across the poems of Myra Viola Wilds. We only discovered her this week through a post on

The little we could find about Wilds and her life comes from the preface to her book of poems. She writes:

I was born at Mount Ollie, Ky., a little country place. I lost my eyesight from overwork and eye strain at my occupation, dressmaking, in the year 1911. For three years afterwards, I went through a very severe illness. On March 10th, 1914, at 3 a. m. I awoke out of a sound sleep and wrote my first poem, "Sunshine." In eleven months and seventeen days afterwards, I had written the contents of this book.

The question has often been asked, who writes your thoughts for you, since you are blind? I will answer here. Every line and verse in this little volume has been composed and written with my own hand notwithstanding the loss of my eyesight. A copy of each verse I retain in my own handwriting, after this, they are copied in a book by my husband.

You can find the entire book online, here. We also enjoyed contemporary poet Amanda Moore's thoughts on how reading Wilds might influence her own writing and thinking.

Below, we give you two poems from Wilds to read aloud. The first provides lines for developing a contemplative delivery about, what else, the power of thought. The second can help build your storytelling skills, with a scene we found irresistibly amusing (sorry, Ike).


By Myra Viola Wilds

What kind of thoughts now, do you carry
In your travels day by day
Are they bright and lofty visions,
   Or neglected, gone astray?

Matters not how great in fancy,
   Or what deeds of skill you’ve wrought;
Man, though high may be his station,
   Is no better than his thoughts.

Catch your thoughts and hold them tightly,
   Let each one an honor be;
Purge them, scourge them, burnish brightly,
   Then in love set each one free.


He didn't stop to think.

By Myra Viola Wilds

Ike Johnson loved a fair young girl,
   Her name was Lucy Prim,
He thought the whole wide world of her,
   And she the same of him.

He took Bill Jones to call one day,
   Which always breaks the link,
He left them there to chat awhile,
   But he didn't stop to think.

Mister Jones he liked the girl,
   And there he told her so,
Just twenty seconds by the watch,
   Before he had to go.

He asked that he might call again,
   Miss Lucy looked at him,
She told him yes and gave a smile
   Then Ike come walking in.

Jones thanked her and he took his hat,
   And then he went away,
From that time on no thought had Jones,
   But of his wedding day.

Poor Ike his days were numbered,
   Jones did not care a wink,
The trouble about the whole thing was,
   Ike didn't stop to think.

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