On regret: Two poets from two different centuries

On regret: Two poets from two different centuries
Artwork from Kaoru Yamada.

Many have documented the fact that the one feeling that people on their death beds unanimously share is that of regret: the things they did and more often than not, the things they didn't do. This is perhaps even more true of those who had some artistic or creative inclinations but gave up, often choosing what the world deemed more practical.

The great American poet Mary Oliver (1935–2019) wrote:

The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.

Several decades before Mary Oliver was born, the American author and poet Margaret Elizabeth Sangster (1838–1912) wrote about regret in her beautiful poem The Sin of Omission:

It isn't the thing you do, dear;
        It's the thing you leave undone,
That gives you a bit of heartache
        At setting of the sun.
The tender word forgotten,
        The letter you did not write,
The flowers you did not send, dear,
        Are your haunting ghosts to-night.

Read the complete poem.