Soren Kierkegaard

The voice of a young man

One sticks one’s finger into the soil to tell by the smell in what land one is: I stick my finger in existence – it smells of nothing. Where am I? Who am I? How came I here? What is this thing called the world? What does this world mean? Who is it that has lured me into the world? Why was I not consulted, why not made acquainted with its manners and customs instead of throwing me into the ranks, as if I had been bought by a kidnapper, a dealer in souls? How did I obtain an interest in this big enterprise they call reality? Why should I have an interest in it? Is it not a voluntary concern? And if I am to be compelled to take part in it, where is the director? I should like to make a remark to him. Is there no director? Whither shall I turn with my complaint?

Thomas Hardy


I am the family face;
Flesh perishes, I live on,
Projecting trait and trace
Through time to times anon,
And leaping from place to place
Over oblivion.

The years-heired feature that can
In curve and voice and eye
Despise the human span
Ofdurance–that is I;
The eternal thing in man,
That heeds no call to die.

Bruce Cockburn

Anything Can Happen

You could have gone off the Bloor Street viaduct
I could have been run down in the street
You could have got botulism anytime
I could have gone overboard into the sea

Anything can happen
To put out the light,
Is it any wonder
I don’t want to say goodnight?

I could have been hit by a falling pane of glass
You could have had shark teeth write “finit”
We could have been nailed by some vigilante type
In a case of mistaken identity — obviously

Anything can happen
To put out the light
Is it any wonder
I don’t want to say goodnight?

We could have been lynched and tarred and feathered
Been on a plane that crashed in flames
Could have done the neutron melt together
But here we are just the same!

You could have been daggered in the dead of night
You could have been gassed inside your car
I could have been walking in the open fields
And been drilled through the head by a shooting star

Anything can happen
To put out the light
Is it any wonder
I don’t want to say goodnight?

F P Harton

A letter from the vicar of Baulking to Penelope Betjeman

My Dear Penelope

I have been thinking over the question of the playing of the harmonium on Sunday evenings here and have reached the following conclusion that I must now take it over myself.

I am very grateful to you for doing it for so long and hate to have to ask you to give it up, but, to put it plainly, your playing has got worse and worse and the discord between the harmonium and the congregation is becoming destructive to devotion. People are not very sensitive here, but even some of them have begun to complain, and they are not usually given to doing that. I do not like writing this, but I think that you will agree that it is my business to see that the divine worship is as perfect as it can be made. Perhaps the crankiness of the instrument has something to do with the trouble. I think it does require a careful and experienced player to deal with it.

Thank you ever so much for stepping so generously into the breach when Sibyl was ill; it was the greatest possible help to me and our results were noticeably better then than now.

Yours ever,

F P Harton

Brian Patten

I found a small dragon

I found a small dragon in the woodshed.
I think it must have come from deep inside a forest
because it’s damp and green, and leaves
are still reflecting in its eyes.

I fed it on many things, tried grass,
the roots of stars, hazel-nut and dandelion,
but it stared up at me as if to say:
I need foods you can’t provide.

It made a nest of coal,
not unlike a bird’s but larger.
It is out of place here
and is quite silent.

If you believed in it I would come
hurrying to your house to let you share my wonder,
but I want instead to see
if you yourself will pass this way.

Fran Lebowitz

Your responsibility as a parent is not as great as you might imagine. You need not supply the world with the next conqueror of disease or major motion picture star. If your child simply grows up to be someone who does not use the word “collectible” as a noun, you can consider yourself an unqualified success.

Edward Abbey

One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast – a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for awhile and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: You will outlive the bastards.