Grenville Kleiser’s inspirational poem “Stay Calm” is all about being calm and composed in the face of adversities, hatred, and annoyance. It is a value that should be cherished throughout one’s life. Those who are able to master the art of staying calm, have already won the battle against selfishness and the strife of others. Kleiser not only counsels us to nourish this feature within ourselves but also shows us the implications of the negative emotions on our minds. Those emotions are like chains tied to the mind’s toes, keeping oneself aback from getting a peaceful mental setup.
- Read the full text of “Stay Calm” here along with the analysis section.
In this poem, Kleiser, like a spiritual guide, talks about the importance of staying calm in our life. It is an art to master and a way of living life with tranquility. The poem begins with a reference to the implications of what we say to others in anger. Those words somehow harm our mental peace. In order to get mental peace, we need to cut down on our list of resentments. When the mind is peaceful, naturally the ill thoughts vanish.
In the second stanza, the poet delves deeper into the scenarios of getting angry. There are numerous instances of being angry at someone. But, those who are intelligent, know that remaining silent is the best shield to protect our minds from negativity.
The last stanza reiterates the ideas present in the previous stanzas. Here, the poet says when we learn the art of staying silent, we have mastered the “most vital thing” in our life.
Structure & Form
This poem consists of three stanzas. Each stanza contains eight lines. It is written from a third-person point of view. Kleiser’s persona is the sole speaker who advises readers to master the art of staying calm by directly addressing them as “you”. This piece follows a regular rhyme scheme of ABCBDEFE. It means the second and fourth lines, and the sixth and eighth lines rhyme together. This scheme can be found in a ballad stanza. The overall poem is composed in iambic tetrameter with a few variations. It means there are four iambic beats (unstressed-stressed) per line. For example,
When you feel like say-ing some-thing
That/ you know/ you will/ re-gret
Or keen/-ly feel/ an in/-sult
Not/ quite ea/-sy to/ for-get
Poetic Devices & Figures of Speech
Grenville Kleiser uses the following figures of speech in his poem “Stay Calm”.
- Epigram: It occurs in the lines such as “For when your mind is tranquil/ All your ill thoughts simply cease” and “You must learn to keep strict silence/ Though you know you’re in the right.”
- Alliteration: The repetition of similar sounds is present in “saying something”, “maintain a mental”, “defrauded or defied”, “strict silence”, etc.
- Metaphor: In the poem, the “worthwhile battle/ Over selfishness and spite” is a metaphor. Here, the poet defines the mental struggle to cope up with hatred, to a war. In the last line, “the most vital thing in life” is a metaphorical reference to staying calm. Here, the idea is compared to the most vital things for living such as air, food, and sunlight.
- Enjambment: It occurs throughout the poem in order to connect the lines internally. For example, it can be found in “When you feel like saying something/ That you know you will regret”.
Kleiser explores several themes in “Stay Calm”. The most important themes of this piece are mental peace, the art of calmness, individualism vs society, and the importance of silence. In this poem, though the central idea revolves around the art of staying calm and its importance in life, it also hints at some other concepts. For example, when the poet talks about the attitude of others towards the listener, he is implicitly hinting at the hypocrisy of society. They know that the person they are cursing is right still, they pile that fellow with negativity. Kleiser advises only one thing to face them. It is to maintain strict silence as it is the best shield to defend oneself from negativity.
- regret (Line 2): feel sad over something that has gone wrong
- keenly (Line 3): very strongly
- curb (Line 5): control
- resentment (Line 5): irritation at unfair treatment
- tranquil (Line 7): calm, peaceful
- cease (Line 8): come to an end
- defrauded (Line 10): cheated by someone
- defied (Line 10): disobeyed by someone
- peeved (Line 11): annoyed or irritated
- spite (Line 14): hatred, bitterness
- confronted (Line 18): challenged
- ambush (Line 19): make a surprise attack on someone
- poised (Line 21): calm, cool-headed
- strife (Line 22): quarreling
Line-by-Line Analysis & Explanation
When you feel like saying something
That you know you will regret,
Or keenly feel an insult
Not quite easy to forget,
That’s the time to curb resentment
And maintain a mental peace,
For when your mind is tranquil
All your ill thoughts simply cease.
The poem “Stay Calm” begins with a situation. Kleiser’s poetic voice urges readers to think about a situation where they feel like saying some bitter words to others. There are several instances when we feel like showering our anger on others. At that time, we don’t feel that this emotion is going to hurt back. It is like the Newtonian law of recoil. When you release the burst of anger, you are the sole person who handles the recoil. Is it not tough to handle a gun loaded with spiteful words?
At times, there comes a situation where one intensely feels an insult. It is not easy to wipe away the impression it has on one’s mind. The poet does not deny the fact. However, he says that is a vital moment to check on our resentment or bitter feelings. This feeling will entice us to kindle the fire of anger.
According to the poet, at such moments one must keep mental peace. An intelligent person knows when the mind is in a peaceful state, those bitter thoughts easily get erased. The bitterness we show towards others is going to harm us back. Hence, it is always better to not be controlled by those heated emotions. In the end, it will affect our mental composure.
It’s easy to be angry
When defrauded or defied,
To be peeved and disappointed
If your wishes are denied;
But to win a worthwhile battle
Over selfishness and spite,
You must learn to keep strict silence
Though you know you’re in the right.
The second stanza presents a number of situations when people get angry. These situations are not limited to the ones mentioned in the poem. According to Kleiser, one such situation is when one is defrauded or cheated by someone they trust. There is another instance when people don’t listen to us and bother about our decisions. Sometimes they deny our wishes. Naturally, we feel annoyed and disappointed by the denial.
However, the poet points at an important thing in the following lines. He compares the mental fight against the bitter feelings towards others to a battle. According to him, if we want to win the battle over others’ selfishness and hatred, we need to master the art of being silent. The poet uses the phrase “strict silence” in order to emphasize this art as a practice or mental exercise.
One must follow this exercise strictly in order to maintain mental peace. The poet also mentions another situation to highlight its importance. Knowing the fact that one is right, still refusing to listen to what others say to him, is the best way to keep oneself calm. It only helps us to be tranquil but also increases our endurance.
So keep your mental balance
When confronted by a foe,
Be it enemy in ambush
Or some danger that you know.
If you are poised and tranquil
When all around is strife,
Be assured that you have mastered
The most vital thing in life.
In the last stanza, Kleiser advises his audience to keep “mental balance”. Here, the mind is compared to a weighing scale. It remains in a balanced state when one puts discipline at one side and composure on the other side. Furthermore, the poet points out some tricky situations. At times, one is confronted by a foe. It can be a person who waits in disguise to make a surprise attack. On the other hand, it can be a person one knows.
At such times, remaining calm is the best strategy to fend off the foe. Besides, a person must remain self-composed and peaceful at mind when all around him is filled with hatred, envy, and anger. In this way, we can master the “most vital thing in life” apart from success, fame, and wealth. It is the art of staying calm in the face of adversities.
Grenville Kleiser was a North American writer and poet. He wrote a number of inspirational works. Besides, he was an instructor of oratory at Yale Divinity School. His first book How to Speak in Public was published in 1906. Not only that, he wrote several books on finance, public speaking, and spirituality. In his poem “Stay Calm”, readers can find several themes that are encompassed in his other works. For instance, in this poem, he chiefly talks about nurturing a peaceful mind in order to fend off negativity. The art of mental calmness is also an important aspect of spirituality.
Questions & Answers
The main message of this poem concerns being calm and composed while challenged by hatred, annoyance, and dejection. Kleiser advises readers to keep mental peace, no matter what others tell them.
Indeed, being calm is a weakness for the foolish ones. Those who are intelligent know the importance of staying calm and silent. This art of calmness supplies positive energy to the mind.
The “most vital thing in life” is staying calm. One needs to master it in order to nurture a peaceful mind as when the mind is at peace, negativity starts to cease.
In this poem, Kleiser tells readers there are several ways to be angry and disturb one’s mental composure. But, there is only one way to stay calm. It concerns maintaining strict silence.
This metaphorical battle implicitly hints at the mental struggle over others’ selfishness and spite. If one can master the art of keeping a tranquil mind, it turns out to be a “worthwhile battle”. The reason is this battle increases our stability and endurance.
According to the poet, it is easy to be angry when one is cheated or disregarded. Another reason to be angry includes the denial of one’s wishes.
One gains the most important thing in life that is a peaceful mind through mastering the art of being silent and calm.
In order to win a battle over selfishness and spite, we must learn how to stay silent. Even though we know we are right, we should not lose our temperaments.
When we feel like using harsh words that we know we will regret in the future, we should abstain from that impulse. Besides, when we intensely feel an insult, difficult to forget, it is the time to check on our resentment.
It is easy to be angry when we are deceived by someone we trust.
According to the poet, it is not easy to stay calm and silent after being cheated, ignored, and denied.
According to Kleiser, calmness is the most vital thing in life like the air we breathe and the food we eat. At times of adversity, it helps us to stay positive and be active in our work.
One should not be disappointed while their wishes are denied. To win the worthwhile battle against selfishness and spite, it is important to be silent and stay composed.
The moral that readers can learn from reading this piece is “Silence, the best defense to fend off negativity”.
The central idea of the poem revolves around the art of being calm and staying silent in mind while facing challenges.
Grenville Kleiser wrote inspirational books and guides to public speaking. The best-known works of Kleiser include Inspiration and Ideals, Christ, the Master Speaker, How to Succeed in Life and Make Your Life Worth Living.
- Quotes of Grenville Kleiser — Read the inspirational quotes by the poet.
- Books of Grenville Kleiser — Explore all the works of the poet.
- About Grenville Kleiser — Read about the short biography of the poet and his works.
Similar Poems to “Stay Calm”
- “It Couldn’t Be Done” by Edgar Guest — This poem describes how to deal with negativity and focus on a seemingly impossible task.
- “A Time to Believe” by B.J. Morbitzer — In this poem, Morbitzer talks about the power of believing in oneself.
- “As I Grew Older” by Langston Hughes — This poem by Hughes describes how a speaker has a dream and what he did in order to fulfill it.
- “The Arrow and the Song” by H.W. Longfellow — This simple poem is about the importance of nurturing compassion in one’s heart in contrast to using harsh words to others.