The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself for an oracle, is inborn in us.
If the night flights keep you awake
I will call London Airport and tell them
to land their dangerous junk elsewhere.
And if you fall asleep with the sleeve
of my jacket under your head,
sooner than wake you, I’ll cut it off.
But if you say:
‘Fix me a plug on this mixer’,
I grumble and take my time.
They change their clime, not their disposition, who run across the sea.
It is better to make your own mistakes than to copy someone else’s
Stray birds of summer come to my
window to sing and fly away.
And yellow leaves of autumn, which
have no songs, flutter and fall
there with a sigh.
Never read any book that is not a year old.
Never fear your enemies, fear your actions.
Never express yourself more clearly than you are able to think.
Happy The Man
Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul or rain or shine
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.
The future is inevitable and precise, but it may not occur. God lurks in the gaps.
Seek simplicity and distrust it.
Above the Dock
Above the quiet dock in midnight,
Tangled in the tall mast’s corded height,
Hangs the moon. What seemed so far away
Is but a child’s balloon, forgotten after play.
The man who insists on seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides.
Batsman (having just been clean bowled): That was one hell of a ball, Fred.
Fred Trueman: Ay, it were wasted on thee.
There are two things that are more difficult than making an after-dinner speech: climbing a wall which is leaning toward you and kissing a girl who is leaning away from you.
Delight in Disorder
A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness :
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction :
An erring lace which here and there
Enthrals the crimson stomacher :
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbons to flow confusedly :
A winning wave (deserving note)
In the tempestuous petticoat :
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility :
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.
God sends burdens, and shoulders, too.
My riches consist not in the extent of my possessions, but in the fewness of my wants.
If love can build a bridge,
can affection put up a shelf?
That boy is about as sharp as a bowlin’ ball.
You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.
A person usually has two reasons for doing something: a good reason and the real reason.
can lead to animosity
as an attitude
can become a platitude
leads not with majority
has the capacity
to encourage pomposity.
Belief in the Trinity
for most of humanity
suggests a nonentity
I fear theology
is just an allergy
Heigh-ho that the universe
should become farcical.
in the face of gravity
In a Calvinist’s heaven,
where no foot is cloven,
who are the forgiven?
Time does not prevaricate.
Where the heart pontificates
the questions proliferate.
Is not astrology
disguised as the economy
the human pathology?
One could go on and on
like traffic in London –
It is late. I have done.
In order to compose, all you need do is remember a tune that nobody else has thought of.
Adults are just obsolete children.
Things that go ‘bump’ in the night
Should not really give one a fright.
It’s the hole in each ear
That lets in the fear,
That, and the absence of light!
A molehill man is a pseudo-busy executive who comes to work at 9 am and finds a molehill on his desk. He has until 5 pm to make this molehill into a mountain. An accomplished molehill man will often have his mountain finished before lunch.
Education is what you get when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don’t.
Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.
The Light Gatherer
When you were small, your cupped palms
each held a candleworth under the skin,
enough light to begin,
and as you grew,
light gathered in you, two clear raindrops
in your eyes,
warm pearls, shy,
in the lobes of your ears, even always
the light of a smile after your tears.
Your kissed feet glowed in my one hand,
or I’d enter a room to see the corner you played in
lit like a stage set,
the crown of your bowed head spotlit.
When language came, it glittered like a river,
silver, clever with fish,
and you slept
with the whole moon held in your arms for a night light
where I knelt watching.
Light gatherer. You fell from a star
into my lap, the soft lamp at the bedside
mirrored in you,
and now you shine like a snowgirl,
a buttercup under a chin, the wide blue yonder
you squeal at and fly in,
like a jewelled cave,
turquoise and diamond and gold, opening out
at the end of a tunnnel of years.