Miroslav Holub

Fairy Tale

He built himself a house,
his foundations,
his stones,
his walls,
his roof overhead,
his chimney and smoke,
his view from the window.

He made himself a garden,
his fence,
his thyme,
his earthworm,
his evening dew.

He cut out his bit of sky above.

And he wrapped the garden in the sky
and the house in the garden
and packed the lot in a handkerchief

and went off
lone as an arctic fox
through the cold
unending
rain
into the world.

Richard Feynman

We have a habit in writing articles published in scientific journals to make the work as finished as possible, to cover up all the tracks, to not worry about the blind alleys or describe how you had the wrong idea first, and so on. So there isn’t any place to publish, in a dignified manner, what you actually did in order to get to do the work.

Alan Coren

In the days when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, I know one boy who won’t be sweating. I intend to raise my coffin-lid briskly, throw a few things into an overnight bag, and, whistling something appropriate, prepare to meet my Maker.

Katherine Philips

Upon the graving of her Name upon a Tree in Barnelmes Walks

Alas how barbarous are we,
Thus to reward the courteous Tree,
Who its broad shade affording us,
Deserves not to be wounded thus;
See how the Yielding Bark complies
With our ungrateful injuries.
And seeing this, say how much then
Trees are more generous than men,
Who by a Nobleness so pure
Can first oblige and then endure.

Lewis Carroll

‘Then you should say what you mean,’ the March Hare went on. ‘I do,’ Alice hastily replied; ‘at least,- at least I mean what I say – that’s the same thing, you know.’ ‘Not the same thing a bit!’ said the Hatter. ‘Why, you might just as well say that “I see what I eat” is the same thing as “I eat what I see!”

Adrian Henri

Galactic Lovepoem

Warm your feet at the sunset
Before we go to bed
Read your book by the light of Orion
With Sirius guarding your head
Then reach out and switch off the planets
We’ll watch them go out one by one
You kiss me and tell me you love me
By the light of the last setting sun
We’ll both be up early tomorrow
A new universe has begun.

Cempulappeyanirar

What He Said

What could my mother be
to yours? What kin my father
to yours anyway? And how
did you and I meet ever?
But in love
Our hearts have mingled
like red earth and pouring rain.

Cempulappeyanirar was a Tamil poet who wrote about 2000 years ago. In Tamil literary tradition many works remained anonymous and there is the practice of identifying a poet by a phrase or word from his work. So “cempulapeyanirar” literally means ‘the poet of red earth and pouring rain’.

This is the source for the title of Vikram Chandra’s first novel ‘Red Earth and Pouring Rain’.

J L Austin

An undergraduate asked the philosophy professor J L Austin – “When may we hope to see your Harvard lectures published sir?”

To which he gave the characteristically accurate answer – “You may hope to see them published any time.”

Wendy Cope

Kindness to Animals

If I went vegetarian
And didn’t eat lambs for dinner,
I think I’d be a better person
And also thinner.

But the lamb is not endangered
And at least I can truthfully say
I have never, ever eaten a barn owl,
So perhaps I am OK.


This poem was commissioned by the editor of “The Orange Dove of Fiji,” an anthology for the benefit of the World Wide Fund for Nature. It was rejected as unsuitable.

Everett Dirksen

When I face an issue of great import that cleaves both constituents and colleagues, I always take the same approach. I engage in deep deliberation and quiet contemplation. I wait to the last available minute and then I always vote with the losers. Because, my friend, the winners never remember and the losers never forget.