Humanist Voices in Verse: The Bravest One I Know

This week’s poem is by prolific poet Philip Appleman, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Indiana University-Bloomington. He has published eight volumes of poetry, three novels, and half a dozen nonfiction books, including the widely used Norton Critical Edition, Darwin. His poetry and fiction have won many awards including a fellowship in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Humanist Arts Award of the American Humanist Association, and have appeared in Harper’s, The Nation, New York Times, and Yale Review.

If you’d like to contribute original poetry to Humanist Voices in Verse, write to with “Poetry” in the subject line.

The Bravest One I Know

Not valor, not heroism,
just the silent strength
of lifting your eyes to every sunrise,
feeling again the old scars,
knowing the menace out there:
struggle, defeat, the body’s
betrayals — but you find a way
of salvaging new beginnings
from old hazards, new sightings
of that bright butterfly
called hope — and so,
moving forward on your courage,
we face another day,
not looking for miracles, but

—Philip Appleman