A forte always makes a foible.
Song of Fairies Robbing an Orchard
We, the Fairies, blithe and antic,
Of dimensions not gigantic,
Though the moonshine mostly keep us,
Oft in orchards frisk and peep us.
Stolen sweets are always sweeter,
Stolen kisses much completer,
Stolen looks are nice in chapels,
Stolen, stolen, be your apples.
When to bed the world are bobbing,
Then’s the time for orchard-robbing;
Yet the fruit were scarce worth peeling,
Were it not for stealing, stealing.
‘I have done that,’ says my memory. ‘I cannot have done that’ – says my pride, and remains adamant. At last memory yields.
The public buys its opinions as it buys its meat, or takes its milk, on the principle that it is cheaper to do this than to keep a cow. So it is, but the milk is more likely to be watered.
7 April 1852.
Went to the Zoo.
I said to Him –
Something about that Chimpanzee over there
reminds me of you.
Life engenders life. Energy creates energy. It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich.
To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.
Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes – our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking around.
History of the Night
Throughout the course of the generations
men constructed the night.
At first she was blindness;
thorns raking bare feet,
fear of wolves.
We shall never know who forged the word
for the interval of shadow
dividing the two twilights;
we shall never know in what age it came to mean
the starry hours.
Others created the myth.
They made her the mother of the unruffled Fates
that spin our destiny,
thev sacrificed black ewes to her, and the cock
who crows his own death.
The Chaldeans assigned to her twelve houses;
to Zeno, infinite words.
She took shape from Latin hexameters
and the terror of Pascal.
Luis de Leon saw in her the homeland
of his stricken soul.
Now we feel her to be inexhuastible
like an ancient wine
and no one can gaze on her without vertigo
and time has charged her with eternity.
And to think that she wouldn’t exist
except for those fragile instruments, the eyes.
He either fears his fate too much, Or his deserts are small, That dares not put it to the touch, To gain or lose it all.
It would be an inconvenient rule if nothing could be done until everything can be done.
Recipe for a Hippopotamus Sandwich
A hippo sandwich is easy to make.
All you do is simply take
One slice of bread,
One slice of cake,
One onion ring,
One piece of string,
A dash of pepper —
That ought to do it.
And now comes the problem…
Biting into it!
A good laugh is sunshine in the house.
It is never too late to be what you might have been.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.
I like the generosity of numbers.
The way, for example,
they are willing to count
anything or anyone:
two pickles, one door to the room,
eight dancers dressed as swans.
I like the domesticity of addition–
add two cups of milk and stir–
the sense of plenty: six plums
on the ground, three more
falling from the tree.
And multiplication’s school
of fish times fish,
whose silver bodies breed
beneath the shadow
of a boat.
Even subtraction is never loss,
just addition somewhere else:
five sparrows take away two,
the two in someone else’s
There’s an amplitude to long division,
as it opens Chinese take-out
box by paper box,
inside every folded cookie
a new fortune.
And I never fail to be surprised
by the gift of an odd remainder,
footloose at the end:
forty-seven divided by eleven equals four,
with three remaining.
Three boys beyond their mothers’ call,
two Italians off to the sea,
one sock that isn’t anywhere you look.
Imagination is more important than knowledge.
The fear’s as bad as falling.
A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His mouth can hold more than his belly can,
He can hold in his beak,
Enough food for a week!
I’m damned if I know how the hell he can!
Descartes commanded the future from his study more than Napoleon from the throne.
When the facts change, I change my mind – what do you do, sir?
(on being accused of expressing views that were inconsistent with views he had previously held)
The only ultimate disaster that can befall us, I have come to realize, is to feel ourselves at home here on earth.
I stepped from plank to plank
So slow and cautiously;
The stars about my head I felt,
About my feet the sea.
I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch, —
This gave me that precarious gait
Some call experience.
Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.
What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.
John had a
John had a
Nobody has any business to use the word “progress” unless he has a definite creed and a cast iron code of morals.
Might, could, would – they are contemptible auxiliaries.
Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself at all.
I built on the sand
And it tumbled down,
I built on a rock
And it tumbled down.
Now when I build, I shall begin
With the smoke from the chimney.
The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.