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Opportunity by John James Ingalls

John James Ingalls was a US senator from Kansas. Born in Middleton, Massachusetts in 1833, he graduated from Williams College in 1855. He was admitted to the bar in 1857 and later took an active interest in politics, becoming a State Senator in 1862. He was elected to the Kansas State Senate and later to the US Senate. Ingalls was an abolitionist and a staunch supporter of Civil Services reform. He frequently contributed to leading magazines and reviews. Senator Ingalls was a lover of the best literature. He wrote many celebrated articles on public affairs and many of a purely literary character.

It is said that the poem “Opportunity” was President Theodore Roosevelt’s favourite poem and that Roosevelt had framed and fixed this poem on his Presidential office wall.

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Summary of the Poem

There is a famous idiom, “Make hay while the sun shines”, that is, to make the best use of opportunity while it is available. This is what the inspirational poem “Opportunity” by John James Ingalls centres around. This poem on “Opportunity,” is a gem sufficient in itself to immortalize the author.

The poem, “Opportunity” is an ode that speaks about the transient and fleeting nature of opportunity. An opportunity well-utilized has the power to shape our destiny. Procrastination does not help. The world today is an intensively competitive place. Successful persons are the ones who make the best use of the opportunity that comes their way. One should be ready to make the most of on an opportunity, seize the day and take advantage of favourable circumstances when the time is right. The poet personifies Opportunity and speaks of it as though it is a human entity.

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Word Meanings

remote: faraway; distant

hovel: a hut or a shed; a shack (a very small dwelling)

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mart: a store, shop or a market

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unbidden: unasked; voluntarily

penury: pennilessness; poverty

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woe: misery

in vain: without success; unsuccessfully

implore: appeal; plead

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