An inspirational poem written by a 16-year-old Lubavitch girl, Chanie Gorkin from the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., went viral this week, sharing a Chassidic message of hope with more people than Gorkin could have imagined. Unbeknownst to the young author, the poem—titled “Worst Day Ever?”—was printed and posted on a board in a North London bar when someone took a picture and tweeted it.

The poem went viral, attracting attention from media outlets on both sides of the Atlantic, including Mashable, The Huffington Post, ABC, NBC and The Telegraph.

“The coverage has been overwhelming,” says Gorkin’s mother, Dena, noting that her daughter was not one looking for such attention. “But she is happy to have inspired so many people.”

For Gorkin, an 11th-grader at Beth Rivkah High School in Brooklyn, the story began in November when a teacher assigned her to write an essay to the theme of “Worst Day Ever.”

“Chanie came back from school and said she wanted to instead write something inspired by Chassidic philosophy, which teaches about harnessing the power of moach shalit al halev [intellect’s ability to govern one’s emotions] and finding the good hidden in every moment.”

Chanie had been writing creatively for a few years, so she flipped the assignment on its head, literally, writing a poem that could be read forward, but its true message revealed only when read backward:

Worst Day Ever?

Today was the absolute worst day ever
And don’t try to convince me that
There’s something good in every day
Because, when you take a closer look,
This world is a pretty evil place.
Even if
Some goodness does shine through once in a while
Satisfaction and happiness don’t last.
And it’s not true that
It’s all in the mind and heart
Because
True happiness can be attained
Only if one’s surroundings are good
It’s not true that good exists
I’m sure you can agree that
The reality
Creates
My attitude
It’s all beyond my control
And you’ll never in a million years hear me say

Today was a very good day

Now read it from bottom to top, the other way,
And see what I really feel about my day.

‘Guaranteed to Make You Think’

A few days later, Dena Gorkin, herself a principal at the Bnos Chomesh Girls High School in Crown Heights, shared her daughter’s poem with a student who was having a bad day.

“My student read it and was blown away,” she relates.

Not long afterwards, the poem was entered into a poetry competition on PoetryNation.com, making it into the semi-finals before ultimately being passed over. The poem was also published in N’shei Chabad Newsletter, a Chabad magazine for women, and its life was prolonged by being popularly shared on Facebook and making the rounds on the WhatsApp messaging service.

The story seemed to be petering out until one tweet from the other side of the world set social media ablaze and traditional media scrambling.

“The poem, which was helpfully posted on ‘some wall’ in London (because as we all know, Londoners are almost always in need of a bit of perking up), has two alternate meanings depending on whether you read it from top to bottom or bottom to top, and is guaranteed to make you think,” wrote The Metro, a London newspaper.

Since being reported on, an image of the poem has been posted on many sites and read by millions of people.

“I think Chanie’s poem has become popular because there’s a lot of darkness in this world, and something uplifting like this really resonates,” says her mother. “Words from the heart enter the heart. I think Chanie’s sincerity was felt through her words.”

Chanie herself was not the one to post her work on Facebook; as she puts it, she’d rather hang out with her friends in real life.

“The message in the poem isn’t mine,” says Chanie, who has since turned 17 and is entering 12th grade. “The Lubavitcher Rebbe [Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory] taught that when you change your perspective, other things change as well. That’s what inspired this poem.”

Although she didn’t seek international attention, the sociable and studious Gorkin—who got an “A” for the poem in school—is happy if it has a positive effect on someone, somewhere.

“I’m really happy that my poem has inspired people. If someone was having a terrible day and this helped them turn it around, then it has all been worth it.”