Author: Crispin

Rowan Williams

When I think of people in my own life that I call holy, who have really made an impact…[these] people have made me feel better rather than worse about myself. Or rather, not quite that: these are never people who make me feel complacent about myself, far from it; they make me feel that there is hope for my confused and compromised humanity…somehow, I feel a little bit more myself…I have a theory, which I started elaborating after I had met Archbishop Desmond Tutu a few times, that there are two kinds of egotists in this world. There are egotists that are so in love with themselves that they have no room for anybody else, and there are egotists that are so in love with themselves that they make it possible for everybody else to be in love with themselves…And in that sense Desmond Tutu manifestly loves being Desmond Tutu; there’s no doubt about that. But the effect of that is not to make me feel frozen or shrunk; it makes me feel that just possibly, by God’s infinite grace, I could one day love being Rowan Williams in the way that Desmond Tutu loves being Desmond Tutu.

Freeman Dyson

The technologies which have had the most profound effects on human life are usually simple. A good example of a simple technology with profound historical consequences is hay. Nobody knows who invented hay, the idea of cutting grass in the autumn and storing it in large enough quantities to keep horses and cows alive through the winter. All we know is that the technology of hay was unknown to the Roman Empire but was known to every village of medieval Europe. Like many other crucially important technologies, hay emerged anonymously during the so-called Dark Ages. According to the Hay Theory of History, the invention of hay was the decisive event which moved the center of gravity of urban civilization from the Mediterranean basin to Northern and Western Europe. The Roman Empire did not need hay because in a Mediterranean climate the grass grows well enough in winter for animals to graze. North of the Alps, great cities dependent on horses and oxen for motive power could not exist without hay. So it was hay that allowed populations to grow and civilizations to flourish among the forests of Northern Europe. Hay moved the greatness of Rome to Paris and London, and later to Berlin and Moscow and New York.

Rudyard Kipling

THE Camel’s hump is an ugly lumpWhich well you may see at the Zoo;But uglier yet is the hump we getFrom having too little to do. Kiddies and grown-ups too-oo-oo,If we haven’t enough to do-oo-oo,We get the hump—Cameelious hump—The hump that is black and blue! We climb out of bed with a frouzly head,And a snarly-yarly voice.We shiver and scowl and we grunt and we growlAt our bath and our boots and our toys; And there ought to be a corner for me(And I know’ there is one for you)When we get the hump—Cameelious hump—The hump that is black and blue! The cure for this ill is not to sit still,Or frowst with a book by the fire;But to take a large hoe and a shovel also,And dig till you gently perspire; And then you will find that the sun and the wind,And the Djinn of the Garden too,Have lifted the hump—The horrible hump—The hump that is black and blue! I get it as well as you-oo-ooIf I haven’t enough to do-oo-oo!We all get hump—Cameelious hump—Kiddies and grown-ups too!

Philip Larkin

Homage To A Government Next year we are to bring all the soldiers home For lack of money, and it is all right. Places they guarded, or kept orderly, Must guard themselves, and keep themselves orderly We want the money for ourselves at home Instead of working. And this is all right. It’s hard to say who wanted it to happen, But now it’s been decided nobody minds. The places are a long way off, not here, Which is all right, and from what we hear The soldiers there only made trouble happen. Next year we shall be easier in our minds. Next year we shall be living in a country That brought its soldiers home for lack of money. The statues will be standing in the same Tree-muffled squares, and look nearly the same. Our children will not know it’s a different country. All we can hope to leave them now is money.

Rudyard Kipling

THE Camel’s hump is an ugly lump Which well you may see at the Zoo; But uglier yet is the hump we get From having too little to do. Kiddies and grown-ups too-oo-oo, If we haven’t enough to do-oo-oo, We get the hump— Cameelious hump— The hump that is black and blue! We climb out of bed with a frouzly head, And a snarly-yarly voice. We shiver and scowl and we grunt and we growl At our bath and our boots and our toys; And there ought to be a corner for me (And I know’ there is one for you) When we get the hump— Cameelious hump— The hump that is black and blue! The cure for this ill is not to sit still, Or frowst with a book by the fire; But to take a large hoe and a shovel also, And dig till you gently perspire; And then you will find that the sun and the wind, And the Djinn of the Garden too, Have lifted the hump— The horrible hump— The hump that is black and blue! I get it as well as you-oo-oo If I haven’t enough to do-oo-oo! We all get hump— Cameelious hump— Kiddies and grown-ups too!

Robert Tombs

History like travel ‘broadens the mind’. The differences we encounter are precious in reminding us that our ways are not the only ways, and other cultures and other generations have achievements as great as or greater than ours. Yet in the past, as in other countries, only some things are different and much is the same – a reminder of common humanity as well as cultural diversity. We owe respect to the past as we do to other societies today, not for the sake of our predecessors, who are beyond caring, but for our own sake. Treating the past as grotesque and inferior is the attitude of the tourist who can see nothing ‘abroad’ but dirt and bad plumbing.

Fleur Adcock

  Immigrant November ’63: eight months in London. I pause on the low bridge to watch the pelicans: they float swanlike, arching their white necks over only slightly ruffled bundles of wings, burying awkward beaks in the lake’s water. I clench cold fists in my Marks and Spencer`s jacket and secretly test my accent once again: St James’s Park; St James’s Park; St James’s Park.

Corita Kent (popularised by her brother John Kent)

Rule 1: Find a place you trust, and then, try trusting it for awhile. Rule 2: (General Duties of a Student) Pull everything out of your teacher. Pull everything out of your fellow students. Rule 3: (General Duties of a Teacher) Pull everything out of your students. Rule 4: Consider everything an experiment. Rule 5: Be Self Disciplined. This means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self disciplined is to follow in a better way. Rule 6: Follow the leader. Nothing is a mistake. There is no win and no fail. There is only make. Rule 7: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It is the people who do all the work all the time who eventually catch onto things. You can fool the fans–but not the players. Rule 8: Do not try to create and analyze at the same time. They are different processes. Rule 9: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It is lighter than you think. Rule 10: We are breaking all the rules, even our own rules and how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for “x” quantities. Helpful Hints: Always Be Around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read everything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully and often. SAVE EVERYTHING. It might come in handy later.…

Richard Rohr

For poetry to be most effective, I believe it should be spoken aloud, embodied. After all, God didn’t think, “Let there be light”. God spoke, and creation vibrated into existence. Isn’t it just like our Creator to imprint the subtlety and mystery of creativity in the thisness of each voice?…

Czeslaw Milosz

Gift A day so happy. Fog lifted early I worked in the garden. Hummingbirds were stopping over honeysuckle flowers. There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess. I knew no man worth my envying him. Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot. To think that once I was the same man didn’t embarrass me. In my body I felt no pain. On straightening up, I saw the blue sea and sails.…

T S Eliot

I must tell you that I should really like to think there’s something wrong with me – Because, if there isn’t, then there’s something wrong with the world itself – and that’s much more frightening! That would be terrible. So I’d rather believe there is something wrong with me, that could be put right.…

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Shower upon him every earthly blessing, drown him in bliss so that nothing but bubbles would dance on the surface of his bliss, as on a sea…and even then every man, out of sheer ingratitude, sheer libel, would play you some loathsome trick. He would even risk his cakes and would deliberately desire the most fatal rubbish, the most uneconomical absurdity, simply to introduce into all this positive rationality his fatal fantastic element…simply in order to prove to himself that men still are men and not piano keys.…

Henry George

Blockading squadrons are a means whereby nations prevent their enemies from trading; protective tariffs are a means whereby nations prevent their own people from trading. Protection does to us in time of peace what enemies seek to do to us in time of war.…

Samuel Johnson

Criticism is a study by which men grow important and formidable at a very small expense. The power of invention has been conferred by nature upon few, and the labour of learning those sciences which by mere labour be obtained is too great to be willingly endured; but every man can exert such judgment as he has upon the works of others; and he whom nature has made weak, and idleness keeps ignorant, may yet support his vanity by the name of a critick.…

Marcus Aurelius

When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me.…

Only

She told him that she loved him Only she told him that she loved him She only told him that she loved him She told only him that she loved him She told him only that she loved him She told him that only she loved him She told him that she only loved him She told him that she loved only him She told him that she loved him only…

Richard Rorty (1998)

…members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers—themselves desperately afraid of being downsized—are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else. At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for—someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots… One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion… …All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.…

Michael Oakeshott

To be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss.…

Leo Tolstoy

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.…

Jordan Peterson

In answer to the question “What are the most valuable things everyone should know?” Tell the truth. Do not do things that you hate. Act so that you can tell the truth about how you act. Pursue what is meaningful, not what is expedient. If you have to choose, be the one who does things, instead of the one who is seen to do things. Pay attention. Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you need to know. Listen to them hard enough so that they will share it with you. Plan and work diligently to maintain the romance in your relationships. Be careful who you share good news with. Be careful who you share bad news with. Make at least one thing better every single place you go. Imagine who you could be, and then aim single-mindedly at that. Do not allow yourself to become arrogant or resentful. Try to make one room in your house as beautiful as possible. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today. Work as hard as you possibly can on at least one thing and see what happens. If old memories still make you cry, write them down carefully and completely. Maintain your connections with people. Do not carelessly denigrate social institutions or artistic achievement. Treat yourself as if you were someone that you are responsible for helping. Ask someone to do you a small favour, so that he or she can ask you to do one in the future. Make friends with people who want the best for you. Do not try to rescue someone who does not want to be rescued, and be very careful about rescuing someone who does. Nothing well done is insignificant. Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world. Dress like the person you want to be. Be precise in your speech. Stand up straight with your shoulders back. Don’t avoid something frightening if it stands in your way — and don’t do unnecessarily dangerous things. Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them. Do not transform your wife into a maid. Do not hide unwanted things in the fog. Notice that opportunity lurks where responsibility has been abdicated. Read something written by someone great. Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street. Do not bother children when they are skateboarding. Don’t let bullies get away with it. Write a letter to the government if you see something that needs fixing — and propose a solution. Remember that what you do not yet know is more important than what you already know. Be grateful in spite of your suffering.…

Robert Quillen

Self-written “Obituary” He was a writer of paragraphs and short editorials. He always hoped to write something of permanent value, but the business of making a living took most of his time and he never got around to it. In his youth he felt an urge to reform the world, but during the latter years of his life he decided that he would be doing rather well if he kept himself out of jail. … When the last clod had fallen, workmen covered the grave with a granite slab bearing the inscription: “Submitted to the Publisher by Robert Quillen.”…

Freeman Dyson

Fifty years ago Kurt Gödel… proved that the world of pure mathematics is inexhaustible. … I hope that the notion of a final statement of the laws of physics will prove as illusory as the notion of a formal decision process for all mathematics. If it should turn out that the whole of physical reality can be described by a finite set of equations, I would be disappointed, I would feel that the Creator had been uncharacteristically lacking in imagination.…

Michael Sandel

We have heard a lot about anger against elites – and I think that anger has a certain shape it’s an anger at the meritocratic hubris of those on top who have inhaled quite deeply of their success who are pretty confident that they deserve to have landed on top and by implication that those who are disadvantaged deserve their place as well, there is something galling, insulting, humiliating about the meritocratic hubris and leads those on top to a certain kind of smugness to look across the distribution of income and wealth and power and opportunities and to conclude that they are on top because they deserve to be.…

John F Kennedy

For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie–deliberate, contrived and dishonest–but the myth–persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the cliches of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.…

Rowan Williams

Advent Calendar He will come like last leaf’s fall. One night when the November wind has flayed the trees to the bone, and earth wakes choking on the mould, the soft shroud’s folding. He will come like frost. One morning when the shrinking earth opens on mist, to find itself arrested in the net of alien, sword-set beauty. He will come like dark. One evening when the bursting red December sun draws up the sheet and penny-masks its eye to yield the star-snowed fields of sky. He will come, will come, will come like crying in the night, like blood, like breaking, as the earth writhes to toss him free. He will come like child.…

Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord

I divide my officers into four classes; the clever, the lazy, the industrious, and the stupid. Each officer possesses at least two of these qualities. Those who are clever and industrious are fitted for the highest staff appointments. Use can be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy however is for the very highest command; he has the temperament and nerves to deal with all situations. But whoever is stupid and industrious is a menace and must be removed immediately!…

Robert Pirosh

Dear Sir: I like words. I like fat buttery words, such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular, creaky words, such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pecunious, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demi-monde. I like suave “V” words, such as Svengali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling words, such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. I like Oh-Heavens, my-gracious, land’s-sake words, such as tricksy, tucker, genteel, horrid. I like elegant, flowery words, such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like wormy, squirmy, mealy words, such as crawl, blubber, squeal, drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words, such as cowlick, gurgle, bubble and burp. I like the word screenwriter better than copywriter, so I decided to quit my job in a New York advertising agency and try my luck in Hollywood, but before taking the plunge I went to Europe for a year of study, contemplation and horsing around. I have just returned and I still like words. May I have a few with you? Robert Pirosh 15 years before he won a best original screenplay Oscar…

Isidor Isaac Rabi

My mother made me a scientist without ever intending to. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn would ask her child after school: So? Did you learn anything today? But not my mother. “Izzy,” she would say, “did you ask a good question today?” That difference — asking good questions — made me become a scientist.…

Bertrand Russell

Dear Sir Oswald, Thank you for your letter and for your enclosures. I have given some thought to our recent correspondence. It is always difficult to decide on how to respond to people whose ethos is so alien and, in fact, repellent to one’s own. It is not that I take exception to the general points made by you but that every ounce of my energy has been devoted to an active opposition to cruel bigotry, compulsive violence, and the sadistic persecution which has characterised the philosophy and practice of fascism. I feel obliged to say that the emotional universes we inhabit are so distinct, and in deepest ways opposed, that nothing fruitful or sincere could ever emerge from association between us. I should like you to understand the intensity of this conviction on my part. It is not out of any attempt to be rude that I say this but because of all that I value in human experience and human achievement. Yours sincerely, Bertrand Russell…

Robert Hayden

Those Winter Sundays Sundays too my father got up early and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold, then with cracked hands that ached from labor in the weekday weather made banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him. I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking. When the rooms were warm, he’d call, and slowly I would rise and dress, fearing the chronic angers of that house, Speaking indifferently to him, who had driven out the cold and polished my good shoes as well. What did I know, what did I know of love’s austere and lonely offices?…

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Risk as Virtue Finally, when young people who “want to help mankind” come to me, asking: “What should I do? I want to reduce poverty, save the world” and similar noble aspirations at the macro-level. My suggestion is: 1) never engage in virtue signaling; 2) never engage in rent seeking; 3) you must start a business. Take risks, start a business. Yes, take risk, and if you get rich (what is optional) spend your money generously on others. We need people to take (bounded) risks. The entire idea is to move these kids away from the macro, away from abstract universal aims, that social engineering that bring tail risks to society. Doing business will always help; institutions may help but they are equally likely to harm (I am being optimistic; I am certain that except for a few most do end up harming). Risk is the highest virtue.…

John Selden

Equity is a roguish thing. For Law we have a measure, know what to trust to; Equity is according to the conscience of him that is Chancellor, and as that is larger or narrower, so is Equity. ‘T is all one as if they should make the standard for the measure we call a “foot” a Chancellor’s foot; what an uncertain measure would this be!…

Bismarck

Politics is gambling for high stakes with other people’s money… Politics is a job that can be compared with navigation in uncharted waters. One has no idea how the weather or the currents will be or what storms one is in for. In politics, there is the added fact that one is largely dependent on the decisions of others, decisions on which one was counting and which then do not materialise; one’s actions are never completely one’s own. And if the friends on whose support one is relying change their minds, which is something that one cannot vouch for, the whole plan miscarries… One’s enemies one can count on – but one’s friends!…

Robert Conquest

Three Laws of Politics: 1) Everyone is conservative about what he knows best. 2) Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing. 3) The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.…

Edward Thomas

(on the centenary of his death at the Battle of Arras) In Memoriam (Easter, 1915) The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood This Eastertide call into mind the men, Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should Have gathered them and will do never again.…

Non Phonetic Alphabet

A as in Aisle B as in Bdellium (the b is silent) C as in Czar D as in Djinn E as in Eye F as in Felinfoel (Welsh town, pronounced Velinfoe) G as in Gnat H as in Hour I as in Irk (or Ian) J as in Junta K as in Know L as in Llullaillaco (South American volcano pronounced Yu.Yai.Ya.ko) M as in Mnemonic N as in Ndebele O as in One (or indeed Oestrogen or Ouija) P as in Pneumatic (or indeed phonetic) Q as in Quay R as in Rzeznik (the polish pronunciation has a silent R) S as in Szilard (or Sgraffitto) T as in Tzar (it is an added bonus to have one word that represents two letters but if you think that might be confusing somehow you can use Tsunami instead)  U as in Urn V as in Veni vidi vici (each word pronounced with a w) W as in Whole X as in Xhosa Y as in Yvonne (or Ylang Ylang) Z as in Zhivago bonus phonetic but confusing A as in H D as in W E as in F, E, M, N or X S as in C (Sea) W and in Y (Why) Y as in U (You)…

G K Chesterton

There were three things prefigured and promised by the gifts in the cave of Bethlehem concerning the Child who received them; that He should be crowned like a King: that He should be worshiped like a God; and that He should die like a man. And these things would sound like Eastern flattery, were it not for the third.…

Arkell v. Pressdram

29th April 1971 Dear Sir, We act for Mr Arkell who is Retail Credit Manager of Granada TV Rental Ltd. His attention has been drawn to an article appearing in the issue of Private Eye dated 9th April 1971 on page 4. The statements made about Mr Arkell are entirely untrue and clearly highly defamatory. We are therefore instructed to require from you immediately your proposals for dealing with the matter. Mr Arkell’s first concern is that there should be a full retraction at the earliest possible date in Private Eye and he will also want his costs paid. His attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of your reply. Yours, (Signed) Goodman Derrick & Co. —————————— Dear Sirs, We acknowledge your letter of 29th April referring to Mr. J. Arkell. We note that Mr Arkell’s attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of our reply and would therefore be grateful if you would inform us what his attitude to damages would be, were he to learn that the nature of our reply is as follows: fuck off. Yours, Private Eye…

A A Gill

Freedom of speech is what all the other human rights and freedoms balance on. That may sound like unspeakable arrogance when applied to restaurant reviews or gossip columns. But that’s not the point. Journalism isn’t an individual sport like books and plays; it’s a team effort. The power of the press is cumulative. It has a conscious humming momentum. You can — and probably do — pick up bits of it and sneer or sigh or fling them with great force at the dog. But together they make up the most precious thing we own. “It’s all very well for him,” I hear you say, “on his high horse about freedom, but just look at the papers. They’re full of lies and gossip and laziness. The theory’s fine, the practice is disgusting.” Well, let’s just look at that. I don’t know what it is you do, what you make or sell, but consider this. Consider starting each morning with three or so dozen blank sheets of broadsheet paper. And then having to fill them with columns of facts, opinions based on facts and predictions extrapolated from facts. I don’t know how many facts a newspaper has in it. Thousands. Tens of thousands. Millions. From the Stock Market to TV listings by way of courtrooms, parliaments, disasters, wars, celebrity denials, births, deaths, horoscopes and the pictures to go with them. Now tell me, how long did your last annual general report take? Days? Weeks? And you had all that information to hand. How long did the last letter you wrote take? You just made that up. Newspapers are the size of long novels. They’re put together from around the globe from sources who lie, manipulate, want to sell things, hide things, spin things. Despite threats, injunctions, bullets, jails and non-returned phone calls, journalists do it every single day, from scratch. What’s amazing, what’s utterly staggering, is not the things papers get wrong, it’s just how much they get right. Your business, no other business, could guarantee the percentage of accuracy that a newspaper does. And what’s more, if you live in Britain, you don’t get just one, you have the choice of a dozen national papers. Oh, and a small boy will come and put it through your letter box before you’ve even got out of bed. Nothing, but nothing, makes me prouder than being a hack.…

James Landale

On Boris’ first week at FCO The foreign secretary spent much of the week looking rather like an old Labrador who has just flushed out a pheasant for the first time and is rather pleased with his unexpected success. In contrast, his officials looked like children with a new bicycle that they can’t wait to take out for a ride but are worried they might crash.…

John Gower

There are three things of such a sort that they produce merciless destruction when they get the upper hand one is a flood of water, another is a raging fire and the third is the lesser people, the common multitude; for they will not be stopped by either reason or by discipline.…

Brendan O’Neill

This is democracy in action, in all its messy, beautiful, order-upsetting glory. Behold the steadfastness of ordinary people, their willingness to act on their conviction even in the face of the threats and barbs of people with power. We hear a lot these days about how gullible the public is, how malleable are our putty-like minds, play-doh in the hands of demagogues. And yet yesterday, the people thought for themselves; they weighed things up and they decided to reject received wisdom and the Westminster / Washington / Brussels consensus. Such independence of spirit, such freedom of thought, is stirring.…

Freeman Dyson

My view of the prevalence of doom-and-gloom in Cambridge is that it is a result of the English class system. In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status. As a child of the academic middle class, I learned to look on the commercial middle class with loathing and contempt. Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher, which was also the revenge of the commercial middle class. The academics lost their power and prestige and the business people took over. The academics never forgave Thatcher and have been gloomy ever since…

Princess Elizabeth

I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong. But I shall not have strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in it with me, as I now invite you to do: I know that your support will be unfailingly given. God help me to make good my vow, and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it. 21st April 1947…

Rumi

I choose to love you in silence… For in silence I find no rejection, I choose to love you in loneliness… For in loneliness no one owns you but me, I choose to adore you from a distance… For distance will shield me from pain, I choose to kiss you in the wind… For the wind is gentler than my lips, I choose to hold you in my dreams… For in my dreams, you have no end……

Murray N. Rothbard

It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.…

Siegfried Sassoon

Everyone suddenly burst out singing; And I was filled with such delight As prisoned birds must find in freedom, Winging wildly across the white Orchards and dark-green fields; on–on–and out of sight. Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted; And beauty came like the setting sun: My heart was shaken with tears; and horror Drifted away … O, but Everyone Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.…

@policecommander

A Copper’s Christmas And now for something just a little bit different… …A retelling of the Christmas story using detail drawn from a little known historical source – the Daily Crime Bulletin of the Bethlehem Police Department (known by all as the ‘BPD’ – and by some as the ‘Thin Beige Line’). Published daily by the local Constabulary, the Bulletin offers a fascinating insight into the work of a hitherto unheralded group of women and men – whilst shining new light on an old tale. ————————————- Bethlehem Police Department Daily Crime Bulletin (Date obscured) Late Turn – Briefing for Operation Census – Substantial number of migrants arriving at border during past week; – Limited community tension reported – no incidents of note; – Large crowds expected in Bethlehem this evening; – No intelligence re: pre-planned disorder; – Terrorism Threat Level remains at ‘Severe’; – 12 officers on duty; – Roads Policing Chariot in for repairs – no replacement available. 1400hrs Start of shift; 2 PCs to fixed post at main Town Checkpoint; 2 PCs to ongoing crime scene at Caesar’s Nightclub; 2 PCs to constant watch in the cells; Remaining officers out on foot. 1500hrs Routine patrols – High Street. Town Centre crowded but peaceful. 16.30hrs Call to Civil Dispute in the foyer of the Judea Travelodge. Apparent misunderstanding regarding double booking of two suites. Situation deteriorated as it became apparent that there are no other rooms available – anywhere in the neighbourhood. Suspects became violent. Two arrests. Now lodging with us overnight. 17.15hrs Suspect detained for Theft of Wine from the Bethlehem Brasserie. Evidence consumed prior to police arrival. Suspect unfit for interview until tomorrow morning. 18.00hrs Reports of possible UFO sighting. Claims of a bright light – moving East to West at height of several thousand feet. Area Search No Trace. Possible Nuisance Call. 18.30hrs Multiple calls to disturbance on hillside a mile outside town. Reports of strobe lighting and loud music. Initial suspicions of an illegal rave in progress. On arrival, met by gang of Shepherds and a large quantity of sheep. Shepherds claiming to been visited by angels. Despite lengthy enquiries and thorough searches, no sound system or lighting equipment found – and no evidence of alcohol or illegal substances. Not even a spliff. Initially threatened Shepherds with arrest for wasting police time – but settled for a Verbal Warning when they explained that they were leaving anyway. Last seen running towards Bethlehem Town Centre. 19.30hrs Call from Judea Border Patrol. They have stopped a group of Travellers who claim to have come from ‘afar’. Have yet to establish where this is. The three who appear to be in charge are well dressed and claim to know something about the earlier UFO report. Search of luggage has revealed a quantity of gold and a container filled with an aromatic and suspicious looking resin. Enquiries ongoing. 20.15hrs Update from Border Patrol. Travellers able to prove ownership of gold – and the resin turns out to be something called Myrrh. Checks confirm this isn’t a Controlled Drug. Allowed on their way. 21.00hrs Call to believed Child Protection case. Reports of newborn baby being cared for in wholly unsuitable circumstances – apparently in a stable, surrounded by livestock and with no heating or running water. Unmarried teenage mother with no obvious means of support aside from someone claiming – without documentation – to be her ‘betrothed’. On arrival, found earlier group of Shepherds in street outside. Initially threatened them with arrest for Obstructing Police – then saw expression on their faces. Decided to see for myself what was going on. Ma’am, I’ve walked this beat for more than 20 years and I’ve seen most things that this line of work puts your way – but I have no words to describe what I saw last night. No arrests necessary. No explanation adequate. But everything is different now. By the time you read this, I’ll have finished my shift. If you have any questions about this report, you’ll find me back at the stable door. If I may Ma’am – and if you have time – you really ought to come and see for yourself. Bulletin ends.…

Kenneth Grahame

All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered. ‘Rat!’ he found breath to whisper, shaking. ‘Are you afraid?’ ‘Afraid?’ murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love. ‘Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet— and yet— O, Mole, I am afraid!’ Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.…

Rowan Williams

Advent Calendar He will come like last leaf’s fall. One night when the November wind has flayed the trees to the bone, and earth wakes choking on the mould, the soft shroud’s folding. He will come like frost. One morning when the shrinking earth opens on mist, to find itself arrested in the net of alien, sword-set beauty. He will come like dark. One evening when the bursting red December sun draws up the sheet and penny-masks its eye to yield the star-snowed fields of sky. He will come, will come, will come like crying in the night, like blood, like breaking, as the earth writhes to toss him free. He will come like child.…

Janan Ganesh

The problem is systemic. The tolerable price of democracy is its pesky resistance to strategic government. Every policy is an amendment upon an improvisation upon a half-forgotten contingency, agreed by quarrelling interest groups amid the blare of the electorate.…

Edmund Christopher Pery, 7th Earl of Limerick

the following poem was submitted as the Earl’s Candidature Statement for election as one of the 92 hereditary peers to have a seat in the House of Lords following a vacancy The Upper House knows none so queer A creature as the Seatless Peer. Flamingo-like he stands all day With no support to hold his sway. And waits with covert eagerness For ninety-two to be one less. Then on to hustings he must pace Once more to plead his special case. Noble Lordships, spare a thought For one so vertically distraught, And from your seats so well entrenched, Please vote that mine may be embenched.…

Chanie Gorkin

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.…

Edmund Burke

Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle, reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field.…

Queen Elizabeth II

In the old days the monarch led his soldiers on the battlefield and his leadership at all times was close and personal. Today things are very different. I cannot lead you into battle, I do not give you laws or administer justice but I can do something else, I can give you my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations. I believe in our qualities and in our strength, I believe that together we can set an example to the world which will encourage upright people everywhere.…

R S Thomas

The Bright Field I have seen the sun break through to illuminate a small field for a while, and gone my way and forgotten it. But that was the pearl of great price, the one field that had treasure in it. I realise now that I must give all that I have to possess it. Life is not hurrying on to a receding future, nor hankering after an imagined past. It is the turning aside like Moses to the miracle of the lit bush, to a brightness that seemed as transitory as your youth once, but is the eternity that awaits you.…

C S Lewis

But the most obvious fact about praise – whether of God or anything – strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless . . . shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise – lovers praising their mistresses [Romeo praising Juliet and vice versa], readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game – praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars My whole, more general, difficulty about praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value. I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It’s not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are, the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.…

George Orwell

England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during “God save the King” than of stealing from a poor box.…

C S Lewis

Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.…

Walter Terence Stace

Religion can get on with any sort of astronomy, geology, biology, physics. But it cannot get on with a purposeless and meaningless universe. If the scheme of things is purposeless and meaningless, then the life of man is purposeless and meaningless too. Everything is futile, all effort is in the end worthless. A man may, of course, still pursue disconnected ends, money, fame, art, science, and may gain pleasure from them. But his life is hollow at the center. Hence the dissatisfied, disillusioned, restless, spirit of modern man.…

Mother Teresa (based on a text by Dr Kent Keith)

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.…

Monsignor Ronald Knox

The 10 Rules of Detective Fiction 1. The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow. 2. All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course. 3. Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable. 4. No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end. 5. No Chinaman must figure in the story. 6. No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right. 7. The detective must not himself commit the crime. 8. The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader. 9. The stupid friend of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind; his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader. 10. Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.…

Christopher Tolkien

Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time. The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away.…

Avril Anderson

Drop English earth on him beneath Do our sons; and their sons bequeath His glories and our pride and grief At Bladon. For Lionheart that lies below That feared not toil nor tears nor foe. Let the oak stand tho’ tempests blow At Bladon. So Churchill sleeps, yet surely wakes Old Warrior where the morning breaks On sunlit uplands. But the heart aches At Bladon.…

E E Cummings

be of love(a little) More careful Than of everything guard her perhaps only A trifle less (merely beyond how very) closely than Nothing,remember love by frequent anguish(imagine Her least never with most memory)give entirely each Forever its freedom (Dare until a flower, understanding sizelessly sunlight Open what thousandth why and discover laughing)…

Crispin’s Razor

In any argument every time the word “clearly” is used apply the following definition. Clearly: (adverb) an incantation uttered in the hope that a reader or listener will not notice that, whilst the truth of the statement that follows it is essential to case being posited, there is in fact no evidence for the truth of that statement nor does it follow logically from any premise already established. Synonyms “undoubtedly”, “naturally”.…

Steve Jobs (in 1983)

[Apple’s] strategy is really simple. What we want to do is we want to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes … and we really want to do it with a radio link in it so you don’t have to hook up to anything and you’re in communication with all of these larger databases and other computers.…

Sterling Hayden

To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen, who play with their boats at sea — “cruising,” it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.…

Paul Krugman (in 1998)

The growth of the Internet will slow drastically, as the flaw in “Metcalfe’s law”–which states that the number of potential connections in a network is proportional to the square of the number of participants–becomes apparent: most people have nothing to say to each other! By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s.…

T E Lawrence

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did.…

Tony Benn

If one meets a powerful person – Rupert Murdoch, perhaps, or Joe Stalin or Hitler – one can ask five questions: what power do you have; where did you get it; in whose interests do you exercise it; to whom are you accountable; and, how can we get rid of you? Anyone who cannot answer the last of those questions does not live in a democratic system.…

C S Lewis

We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.…

Ian Dury

The Bus Driver’s Prayer Our Father, Who art in Hendon Harrow Road be Thy name Thy Kingston come Thy Wimbledon In Erith as it is in Hendon. Give us this day our Berkhamsted And forgive us our Westminsters As we forgive those who Westminster against us. Lead us not into Temple Station And deliver us from Ealing, For thine is the Kingston The Purley and the Crawley, For Iver and Iver. Crouch End.…

Thomas Hood

No sun – no moon! No morn – no noon – No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day. No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease, No comfortable feel in any member – No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees, No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! – November!…

Abraham Lincoln

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle field of that war; we are met to dedicate a portion of it as the final resting place of those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this, but in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or to detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here; but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work that they have thus far so nobly carried on. It is rather for us here to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us; that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that the dead shall not have died in vain. That the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom, and that the government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.…

Ian McMillan

Lamb’s Conduit Street A world in miniature; a universe in a grain of sand. You can look from one end and see the other end. You couldn’t call it majestic. It isn’t very grand And yet I think it’s monumental. A nuanced blend Of shops and popups and café’s you can pop in, Slip out of carrying coffee that makes everything clear And somehow this street quietens the city’s din And concentrates the careworn mind to the sheer Pleasure of simply walking down a welcoming street That asks you to pause, take your time, have a look And follow a different, independent, subtle beat. Buy a shirt. Buy a croissant. Meet your mate. Buy a book. I went there with my son and he turned to me and said ‘This is the perfect street. I’ll always live here in my head.’…

Milton Friedman

We economists don’t know much, but we do know how to create a shortage. If you want to create a shortage of tomatoes, for example, just pass a law that retailers can’t sell tomatoes for more than two cents per pound. Instantly you’ll have a tomato shortage. It’s the same with oil or gas.…

Robert Browning

Meeting at Night The grey sea and the long black land; And the yellow half-moon large and low; And the startled little waves that leap In fiery ringlets from their sleep, As I gain the cove with pushing prow, And quench its speed i’ the slushy sand. Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach; Three fields to cross till a farm appears; A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch And blue spurt of a lighted match, And a voice less loud, thro’ its joys and fears, Than the two hearts beating each to each.…

Elmore Leonard

10 Rules of Good Writing 1 Never open a book with weather. 2 Avoid prologues. 3 Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue. 4 Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” … he admonished gravely. 5 Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. 6 Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.” 7 Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly. 8 Avoid detailed descriptions of characters. 9 Don’t go into great detail describing places and things. 10 Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. The most important rule is one that sums up the 10, if it sounds like writing, rewrite it.…

T S Eliot

Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm — but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.…

William Morris (possibly)

Morris said to have spent much of his time in Paris in the Eiffel tower, painting, sketching, writing and taking many of his meals in its restaurant. One of the restaurant staff noticed he was a regular visitor and said, “You are certainly impressed with our Tower, monsieur!” “Impressed?!!” said Morris. “This is the only place in Paris where I can avoid seeing the thing!”…

G K Chesterton

We have all forgotten what we really are. All that we call common sense and rationality and practicality only means that, for certain dead levels of our life, we forget what we have forgotten. All that we call spirit and art and ecstasy only means that for one awful instant, we remember what we forgot…

Margaret Thatcher

I had applied for a job at Imperial Chemical Industries in 1948 and was called for a personal interview. However I failed to get selected. Many years later, I succeeded in finding out why I had been rejected. The remarks written by the selectors on my application were: “This woman is headstrong, obstinate and dangerously self-opinionated!”…

Michael Symmons Roberts

Jairus So, God takes your child by the hand and pulls her from her deathbed. He says: ‘Feed her, she is ravenous.’ You give her fruits with thick hides – pomegranate, cantaloupe – food with weight, to keep her here. You hope that if she eats enough the light and dust and love which weave the matrix of her body will not fray, nor wear so thin that morning sun breaks through her, shadowless, complete. Somehow this reanimation has cut sharp the fear of death, the shock of presence. Feed her roast lamb, egg, unleavened bread: forget the herbs, she has an aching fast to break. Sit by her side, split skins for her so she can gorge, and notice how the dawn draws colour to her just-kissed face.…

Winston Churchill

On September 28 the fleet came safely to anchor in Pevensey Bay. There was no opposition to the landing. The local “fyrd” had been called out this year four times already to watch the coast, and having, in true English style, come to the conclusion that the danger was past because it had not yet arrived had gone back to their homes.…

Lord Tennyson

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and though We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.…

Charles Handy

The McNamara Fallacy The first step is to measure whatever can be easily measured. This is OK as far as it goes. The second step is to disregard that which can’t be easily measured or to give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading. The third step is to presume that what can’t be measured easily really isn’t important. This is blindness. The fourth step is to say that what can’t be easily measured really doesn’t exist. This is suicide.…

Thomas Traherne

News from a foreign country came As if my treasure and my wealth lay there; So much it did my heart inflame, ‘Twas wont to call my Soul into mine ear; Which thither went to meet The approaching sweet, And on the threshold stood To entertain the unknown Good. It hover’d there As if ‘twould leave mine ear, And was so eager to embrace The joyful tidings as they came, ‘Twould almost leave its dwelling-place To entertain that same.…

Yehuda Amichai

The Place Where We Are Right From the place where we are right Flowers will never grow In the spring. The place where we are right Is hard and trampled Like a yard. But doubts and loves Dig up the world Like a mole, a plow. And a whisper will be heard in the place Where the ruined House once stood.…

John Rogers

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year-old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.…

G K Chesterton

…the reason why the lives of the rich are at bottom so tame and uneventful is simply that they can choose the events. They are dull because they are omnipotent. They fail to feel adventures because they can make the adventures. The thing which keeps life romantic and full of fiery possibilities is the existence of these great plain limitations which force all of us to meet the things we do not like or do not expect.…

Woody Guthrie

This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin’ it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.…

Of John Wycliffe

The Avon to the Severn runs, The Severn to the sea, And Wycliffe’s dust shall spread abroad, Wide as the waters be. 50 years after his death Wycliffe, who instigated the first full translation of the bible into English, was condemned for heresy and his body was dug up, his bones burned and his ashes poured into the river Avon…

The English Lesson

We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes; But the plural of ox should be oxen not oxes. One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese, Yet the plural of moose should never be meese. You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice, But the plural of house is houses, not hice. If the plural of man is always called men, Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen? If I spoke of my foot and showed you my feet, When I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet? If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth, Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth? If the singular is this, and the plural is these, Why shouldn’t the plural of kiss be kese? Then one may be that, and three would be those, Yet the plural of hat would never be hose. We speak of a brother and also of brethren, But though we say mother, we never say methren. So plurals in English, I think you’ll agree, Are indeed very tricky–singularly.…

E F Schumacher

Once you have a formula and an electronic computer, there is an awful temptation to squeeze the lemon until it is dry and present a picture of the future which through its very precision and verisimilitude carries conviction. Yet a man who uses an imaginary map, thinking it a true one, is likely to be worse off than someone with no map at all; for he will fail to inquire wherever he can, to observe every detail on his way, and to search continuously with all his senses and all his intelligence for indications of where he should go.…

From the funeral of Otto Von Habsburg

The following traditional Habsburg entombment “knocking” ceremony took place at the door of Vienna’s Capuchin Friary after the funeral followed of Otto Von Habsburg. FIRST KNOCK Capuchin Friar : “Who desires admission?” Leader of funeral party: “Otto of Austria, former Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary, Prince Royal of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia, of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia, Lodomeria and Illyria; Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cracow; Duke of Lorraine, Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and Bukowina; Grand Prince of Transylvania, Margrave of Moravia; Duke of Upper and Lower Silesia, Modena, Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla, of Osweicim and Zator, of Teschen, Friaul, Dubrovnik and Zadar; Princely Count of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca; Prince of Trento and Brixen; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and Istria: Count of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenburg; Lord of Trieste, Kotor and Windic March; Grand Voivod of the Voivodship of Serbia” Friar : “We do not know him!” SECOND KNOCK Friar : “Who desires admission?” Leader : “Dr Otto von Habsburg; President and Honorary President of the Pan-European Union; Member and Father of the House of the European Parliament; Holder of honorary doctorates from countless universities and freeman of many communities in Central Europe; Member of numerous noble academies and institutes; Bearer of high and highest awards, decorations and honours of church and state made to him in recognition of his decade-long struggle for the freedom of peoples, for right and justice.” Friar: “We do not know him!” THIRD KNOCK Friar : “Who desires admission?” Leader : “Otto — a mortal, sinful man!” Friar: “Let him be admitted.”…

Matthew Parris

We have been living beyond our means. We have been paying ourselves more than our efforts were earning. We sought political leaders who would assure us that the good times would never end and that the centuries of boom and bust were over; and we voted for those who offered that assurance. We sought credit for which we had no security and we gave our business to the banks that advertised it. We wanted higher exam grades for our children and were rewarded with politicians prepared to supply them by lowering exam standards. We wanted free and better health care and demanded chancellors who paid for it without putting up our taxes. We wanted salacious stories in our newspapers and bought the papers that broke the rules to provide them. And now we whimper and snarl at MPs, bankers and journalists. Fair enough, my friends, but, you know, we really are all in this together.…

Bruce Cockburn

I’ve been scraping little shavings off my ration of light And I’ve formed it into a ball, and each time I pack a bit more onto it I make a bowl of my hands and I scoop it from its secret cache Under a loose board in the floor And I blow across it and I send it to you Against those moments when The darkness blows under your door Isn’t that what friends are for?…

Duke of Wellington

A message to the Foreign Office from Central Spain, August 1812 Gentlemen, Whilst marching from Portugal to a position which commands the approach to Madrid and the French forces, my officers have been diligently complying with your requests which have been sent by H.M. ship from London to Lisbon and thence by dispatch to our headquarters. We have enumerated our saddles, bridles, tents and tent poles, and all manner of sundry items for which His Majesty’s Government holds me accountable. I have dispatched reports on the character, wit, and spleen of every officer. Each item and every farthing has been accounted for, with two regrettable exceptions for which I beg your indulgence. Unfortunately the sum of one shilling and ninepence remains unaccounted for in one infantry battalion’s petty cash and there has been a hideous confusion as the number of jars of raspberry jam issued to one cavalry regiment during a sandstorm in western Spain. This reprehensible carelessness may be related to the pressure of circumstance, since we are at war with France, a fact which may come as a bit of a surprise to you gentlemen in Whitehall. This brings me to my present purpose, which is to request elucidation of my instructions from His Majesty’s Government so that I may better understand why I am dragging an army over these barren plains. I construe that perforce it must be one of two alternative duties, as given below. I shall pursue either one with the best of my ability, but I cannot do both: 1. To train an army of uniformed British clerks in Spain for the benefit of the accountants and copy-boys in London or perchance, 2. To see to it that the forces of Napoleon are driven out of Spain. Your most obedient servant Wellington…

Emily Dickinson

This World is not Conclusion. This World is not Conclusion. A Species stands beyond — Invisible, as Music — But positive, as Sound — It beckons, and it baffles — Philosophy — don’t know — And through a Riddle, at the last — Sagacity, must go — To guess it, puzzles scholars — To gain it, Men have borne Contempt of Generations And Crucifixion, shown — Faith slips — and laughs, and rallies — Blushes, if any see — Plucks at a twig of Evidence — And asks a Vane, the way — Much Gesture, from the Pulpit — Strong Hallelujahs roll — Narcotics cannot still the Tooth That nibbles at the soul —…

Muphry’s Law

1.if you write anything criticising editing or proofreading, there will be a fault in what you have written; 2.if an author thanks you in a book for your editing or proofreading, there will be mistakes in the book; 3.the stronger the sentiment in (a) and (b), the greater the fault; and 4.any book devoted to editing or style will be internally inconsistent.…

Philip Larkin

New Year Poem Tomorrow in the offices the year on the stamps will be altered; Tomorrow new diaries consulted, new calendars stand; With such small adjustments life will again move forward Implicating us all; and the voice of the living be heard: “It is to us that you should turn your straying attention; Us who need you, and are affected by your fortune; Us you should love and to whom you should give your word.” 31 December 1940…

Clement Freud

Clement Freud (grandson of Sigmund) was visiting China as part of a parliamentary delegation with Winston Churchill MP and he asked of the authorities… “I am in your country with a colleague, than whom I am older, have been in parliament longer, have held higher positions in our respective political parties: we are both staying at the Peking Palace Hotel and his suite is bigger than mine. Why?” The Minister, very embarrassed, finally said: “It is because Mr Churchill had a famous grandfather.” Clement reflected that “It is the only time that I have been out-grandfathered.”…

Jorge Luis Borges

Any time something is written against me, I not only share the sentiment but feel I could do the job far better myself. Perhaps I should advise would-be enemies to send me their grievances beforehand, with full assurance that they will receive my every aid and support. I have even secretly longed to write, under a pen name, a merciless tirade against myself.…

William Butler Yeats

Sailing To Byzantium That is no country for old men. The young In one another’s arms, birds in the trees —Those dying generations—at their song, The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas, Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long Whatever is begotten, born, and dies. Caught in that sensual music all neglect Monuments of unageing intellect. An aged man is but a paltry thing, A tattered coat upon a stick, unless Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing For every tatter in its mortal dress, Nor is there singing school but studying Monuments of its own magnificence; And therefore I have sailed the seas and come To the holy city of Byzantium. O sages standing in God’s holy fire As in the gold mosaic of a wall, Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre, And be the singing-masters of my soul. Consume my heart away; sick with desire And fastened to a dying animal It knows not what it is; and gather me Into the artifice of eternity. Once out of nature I shall never take My bodily form from any natural thing, But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make Of hammered gold and gold enamelling To keep a drowsy Emperor awake; Or set upon a golden bough to sing To lords and ladies of Byzantium Of what is past, or passing, or to come.…

Emma Rounds

‘Twas Euclid, and the theorem pi Did plane and solid in the text, All parallel were the radii, And the ang-gulls convex’d. “Beware the Wentworth-Smith, my son, And the Loci that vacillate; Beware the Axiom, and shun The faithless Postulate.” He took his Waterman in hand; Long time the proper proof he sought; Then rested he by the XYZ And sat awhile in thought. And as in inverse thought he sat A brilliant proof, in lines of flame, All neat and trim, it came to him, Tangenting as it came. “AB, CD,” reflected he– The Waterman went snicker-snack– He Q.E.D.-ed, and, proud indeed, He trapezoided back. “And hast thou proved the 29th? Come to my arms, my radius boy! O good for you! O one point two!” He rhombused in his joy. ‘Twas Euclid, and the theorem pi Did plane and solid in the text; All parallel were the radii, And the ang-gulls convex’d.…

Martin Gardner

The last level of metaphor in the Alice books is this: that life, viewed rationally and without illusion, appears to be a nonsense tale told by an idiot mathematician. At the heart of things science finds only a mad, never-ending quadrille of Mock Turtle Waves and Gryphon Particles. For a moment the waves and particles dance in grotesque, inconceivably complex patterns capable of reflecting on their own absurdity.…

Milton Friedman

Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.…

Matt Harvey

Where Earwigs Dare A silver trail across the monitor; fresh mouse-droppings beneath the swivel-chair; the view obscured by rogue japonica. Released into the wild, where earwigs dare – you first went freelance – and then gently feral. You worked from home – then wandered out again, roughed it with spider, ant, shrew, blackbird, squirrel in your won realm, your micro-Vatican. No name conveys exactly what it is – Chalet? Gazebo? You were not misled by studios, snugs, garden offices, workshops or outhouses. A shed’s a shed – and proud of it. You wouldn’t want to hide it. Wi-Fi-enabled rain-proof wooden box – a box to sit in while you think outside it. Self-rattling cage, den, poop-deck, paradox, hutch with home-rule, cramped cubicle of freedom, laboratory, thought-palace, bodger’s bower, plot both to sow seeds and to go to seed in, cobwebbed, Cuprinol-scented, Seat of Power.…

A A Milne

from “King John’s Christmas.” Forget about the crackers, And forget about the candy; I’m sure a box of chocolates Would never come in handy; I don’t like oranges, I don’t want nuts, And I HAVE got a pocket-knife That almost cuts. But, oh! Father Christmas, if you love me at all, Bring me a big, red India-rubber ball!…

Jerry Seinfeld

What are lawyers really? To me a lawyer is basically the person that knows the rules of the country. We’re all throwing the dice, playing the game, moving our pieces around the board, but if there’s a problem, the lawyer is the only person that has actually read the inside of the top of the box.…

Bertrand Russell

Pure mathematics consists entirely of assertions to the effect that, if such and such a proposition is true of anything, then such and such another proposition is true of that thing. It is essential not to discuss whether the first proposition is really true, and not to mention what the anything is, of which it is supposed to be true.…

John Stanley Purvis

I can’t forget the lane that goes from Steyning to the Ring In summer time, and on the Down how larks and linnets sing High in the sun. The wind comes off the sea, and Oh the air! I never knew till now that life in old days was so fair. But now I know it in this filthy rat infested ditch When every shell may spare or kill – and God alone knows which. And I am made a beast of prey, and this trench is my lair. My God! I never knew till now that those days were so fair. So we assault in half an hour, and – it’s a silly thing – I can’t forget the narrow lane to Chanctonbury Ring.…

Stephen Crane

Three little birds in a row Sat musing. A man passed near that place. Then did the little birds nudge each other. They said, “He thinks he can sing.” They threw back their heads to laugh. With quaint countenances They regarded him. They were very curious, Those three little birds in a row.…

Malcolm Muggeridge

On one of my birthdays I was given a toy printing-set with whose rubber letters I was able to print off my first composition. It was a story of a train going along very fast and, to the satisfaction of the passengers, racing through the samll stations along the track without stopping. Their satisfaction, however, turned to dismay, and then to panic fury, as it dawned on them that it was not going to stop at their stations either when it came to them. They raged and shouted and shook their fists, but all to no avail. The train went roaring on. At the time I had no notion what, if anything, the story signified. […] Yet, as I came to see, and see now more clearly than ever, it is the story I have been writing ever since; the story of our time.…

H D Thoreau

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours … In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.…

Charles Harper Webb

Retreat Before she can deliver the cruncher, I stride away backwards My car door opens, I fall in as the engine fires. I speed home in reverse, unshave, unshower, plop down in my easy chair where, picturing what a good night it’s going to be, I slowly spit up a manhattan – dry – just the way I like it.…

W H Auden

I Have No Gun, But I Can Spit Some thirty inches from my nose The frontier of my Person goes, And all the untilled air between Is private pagus or demesne. Stranger, unless with bedroom eyes I beckon you to fraternize, Beware of rudely crossing it: I have no gun, but I can spit.…

Giuseppe Peano

Peano Axioms of the Natural Numbers 1. 0 is a number. 2. The immediate successor of a number is also a number. 3. 0 is not the immediate successor of any number. 4. No two numbers have the same immediate successor. 5. Any property belonging to 0 and to the immediate successor of any number that also has that property belongs to all numbers.…

Charles E Carryl

The Sleepy Giant My age is three hundred and seventy-two, And I think, with the deepest regret, How I used to pick up and voraciously chew The dear little boys whom I met. I’ve eaten them raw, in their holiday suits; I’ve eaten them curried with rice; I’ve eaten them baked, in their jackets and boots, And found them exceedingly nice. But now that my jaws are too weak for such fare, I think it exceedingly rude To do such a thing, when I’m quite well aware Little boys do not like being chewed. And so I contentedly live upon eels, And try to do nothing amiss, And I pass all the time I can spare from my meals In innocent slumber — like this.…

T E Lawrence

All men dream: but not equally, Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did.…

Philip Larkin

A writer once said to me, If you ever go to America, go either to the East Coast or the West Coast: the rest is a desert full of bigots. That’s what I think I’d like: where if you help a girl trim the Christmas tree you’re regarded as engaged, and her brothers start oiling their shotguns if you don’t call on the minister.…

Stephen Crane

A singular disadvantage of the sea lies in the fact that after successfully surmounting one wave you discover that there is another behind it just as important and just as nervously anxious to do something effective in the way of swamping boats.…

Piet Hein

Majority Rule His party was the Brotherhood of Brothers, and there were more of them than of the others. That is, they constituted that minority which formed the greater part of the majority. Within the party, he was of the faction that was supported by the greater fraction. And in each group, within each group, he sought the group that could command the most support. The final group had finally elected a triumvirate whom they all respected. Now, of these three, two had final word, because the two could overrule the third. One of these two was relatively weak, so one alone stood at the final peak. He was: THE GREATER NUMBER of the pair which formed the most part of the three that were elected by the most of those whose boast it was to represent the most of the most of most of most of the entire state — or of the most of it at any rate. He never gave himself a moment’s slumber but sought the welfare of the greater number. And all people, everywhere they went, knew to their cost exactly what it meant to be dictated to by the majority. But that meant nothing, — they were the minority.…

Tom Stoppard

From “The Real Thing” ANNIE: You’re jealous of the idea of the writer. You want to keep it sacred, special, not something anybody can do. Some of us have it, some of us don’t. We write, you get written about. What gets you about Brodie is he doesn’t know his place. You say he can’t write like a head waiter saying you can’t come in here without a tie. Because he can’t put words together. What’s so good about putting words together? HENRY: It’s traditionally considered advantageous for a writer. ANNIE: He’s not a writer. He’s a convict. You’re a writer. You write because you’re a writer. Even you write about something, you have to think up something to write about just so you can keep writing. More well chosen words nicely put together. So what? Why should that be it? Who says? HENRY: Nobody says. It just works best. ANNIE: Of course it works. You teach a lot of people what to expect from good writing, and you end up with a lot of people saying you write well. Then somebody who isn’t in on the game comes along, like Brodie, who really has something to write about, something real, and you can’t get through it. Well, he couldn’t get through yours, so where are you? To you, he can’t write. To him, write is all you can do. HENRY: Jesus, Annie, you’re beginning to appall me. There’s something scary about stupidity made coherent. I can deal with idiots, and I can deal with sensible argument, but I don’t know how to deal with you. Where’s my cricket bat? ANNIE: Your cricket bat? HENRY: Yes. It’s a new approach. [He heads out into the hall.] ANNIE: Are you trying to be funny? HENRY: No, I’m serious. [He goes out while she watches in wary disbelief. He returns with an old cricket bat.] ANNIE: You better not be. HENRY: Right, you silly cow — ANNIE: Don’t you bloody dare — HENRY: Shut up and listen. This thing here, which looks like a wooden club, is actually several pieces of particular wood cunningly put together in a certain way so that the whole thing is sprung, like a dance floor. It’s for hitting cricket balls with. If you get it right, the cricket ball will travel two hundred yards in four seconds, and all you’ve done is give it a knock like knocking the top off a bottle of stout, and it makes a noise like a trout taking a fly… [He clucks his tongue to make the noise.] What we’re trying to do is to write cricket bats, so that when we throw up an idea and give it a little knock, it might … travel … [He clucks his tongue again and picks up the script.] Now, what we’ve got here is a lump of wood of roughly the same shape trying to be a cricket bat, and if you hit a ball with it, the ball will travel about ten feet and you will drop the bat and dance about shouting Ouch! with your hands stuck into your armpits. This isn’t better because someone says it’s better, or because there’s a conspiracy by the MCC to keep cudgels out of Lords. It’s better because it’s better. You don’t believe me, so I suggest you go out to bat with this and see how you get on. [quoting from the play] You’re a strange boy, Billy, how old are you? Twenty, but I’ve lived more than you’ll ever live. Ooh, ouch! [He drops the script and hops about with his hands in his armpits, going Ouch! ANNIE watches him expressionlessly until he desists.] [a few exchanges later] HENRY: ……I can’t help somebody who thinks, or thinks he thinks, that editing a newspaper is censorship, or that throwing bricks is a demonstration while building tower blocks is social violence, or that unpalatable statement is provocation while disrupting the speaker is the exercise of free speech… Words don’t deserve that kind of malarkey. They’re innocent, neutral, precise, standing for this, describing that, meaning the other, so if you look after them you can build bridges across incomprehension and chaos. But when they get their corners knocked off, they’re no good any more, and Brodie knocks corners off without knowing he’s doing it. So everything he writes is jerry-built. It’s rubbish. An intelligent child could push it over. I don’t think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you’re dead.…

John W Gardner

An excellent plumber is infinitely more admirable than an incompetent philosopher. The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.…

Wallace Stevens

Rationalists, wearing square hats, Think, in square rooms, Looking at the floor, Looking at the ceiling. They confine themselves To right-angled triangles. If they tried rhomboids, Cones, waving lines, ellipses — As, for example, the ellipse of the half-moon — Rationalists would wear sombreros.…

Ernest C. Cowper

of Elbert Hubbard who died in the sinking of the Lusitania. I can not say specifically where your father and Mrs. Hubbard were when the torpedoes hit, but I can tell you just what happened after that. They emerged from their room, which was on the port side of the vessel, and came on to the boat-deck. Neither appeared perturbed in the least. Your father and Mrs. Hubbard linked arms — the fashion in which they always walked the deck — and stood apparently wondering what to do. I passed him with a baby which I was taking to a lifeboat when he said, “Well, Jack, they have got us. They are a damn sight worse than I ever thought they were.” They did not move very far away from where they originally stood. As I moved to the other side of the ship, in preparation for a jump when the right moment came, I called to him, “What are you going to do?” and he just shook his head, while Mrs. Hubbard smiled and said, “There does not seem to be anything to do.” The expression seemed to produce action on the part of your father, for then he did one of the most dramatic things I ever saw done. He simply turned with Mrs. Hubbard and entered a room on the top deck, the door of which was open, and closed it behind him. It was apparent that his idea was that they should die together, and not risk being parted on going into the water.…

A A Milne

Daffodowndilly She wore her yellow sun-bonnet, She wore her greenest gown; She turned to the south wind And curtsied up and down. She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head, And whispered to her neighbour: “Winter is dead.”…

J B S Haldane

It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.…

Brian O’Nolan

“You told me what the first rule of wisdom is,” I said. “What is the second rule?” “That can be answered,” he said. “There are five in all. Always ask any questions that are to be asked and never answer any. Turn everything you hear to your own advantage. Always carry a repair outfit. Take left turns as much as possible. Never apply your front brake first…If you follow them,” said the Sergeant, “you will save your soul and you will never get a fall on a slippy road.”…

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Every man has some reminiscences which he would not tell to everyone, but only to his friends. He has others which he would not reveal even to his friends, but only to himself, and that in secret. But finally there are still others which a man is even afraid to tell himself, and every decent man has a considerable number of such things stored away. That is, one can even say that the more decent he is, the greater the number of such things in his mind.…

Wendy Cope

The Widow I like this piece. I think you’d like it too. We didn’t very often disagree Back in the days when I sat here with you And knew that you were coming home with me. This is the future. It arrived so fast. When we were young it seemed so far away. Our years together vanished like a day At nightfall, sealed for ever in the past. I can’t give up on music, just discard The interest we shared because you died. And so I come to concerts. But it’s hard. Tonight I’m doing well. I haven’t cried. My head aches. There’s a tightness in my throat. And you will never hear another note.…

Alexander Pope

A little Learning is a dang’rous Thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring: There shallow Draughts intoxicate the Brain, And drinking largely sobers us again. Fir’d at first Sight with what the Muse imparts, In fearless Youth we tempt the Heights of Arts, While from the bounded Level of our Mind, Short Views we take, nor see the lengths behind, But more advanc’d, behold with strange Surprize New, distant Scenes of endless Science rise! So pleas’d at first, the towring Alps we try, Mount o’er the Vales, and seem to tread the Sky; Th’ Eternal Snows appear already past, And the first Clouds and Mountains seem the last: But those attain’d, we tremble to survey The growing Labours of the lengthen’d Way, Th’ increasing Prospect tires our wandering Eyes, Hills peep o’er Hills, and Alps on Alps arise!…

Wendy Cope

Cathedral Carol Service Those of us who are not important enough To have places reserved for us And who turned up too late to get a seat at all, Stand in the nave aisles, or perch on stone ledges. We shiver in the draught from the west door. We cannot see the choir, the altar or the candles. We can barely see the words on our service sheets. But we can hear the music. And we can sing For the baby whose parents were not important enough To have a place reserved for them, And who turned up too late to get a room at all.…

G K Chesterton

A Christmas Carol The Christ-child lay on Mary’s lap, His hair was like a light. (O weary, weary were the world, But here is all aright.) The Christ-child lay on Mary’s breast His hair was like a star. (O stern and cunning are the kings, But here the true hearts are.) The Christ-child lay on Mary’s heart, His hair was like a fire. (O weary, weary is the world, But here the world’s desire.) The Christ-child stood on Mary’s knee, His hair was like a crown, And all the flowers looked up at Him, And all the stars looked down…

Charles Dickens

I’Yo Ho! my boys,” said Fezziwig. “No more work to-night! Christmas Eve, Dick! Christmas, Ebenezer! Let’s have the shutters up!” cried old Fezziwig with a sharp clap of his hands, “before a man can say Jack Robinson. . . .” “Hilli-ho!” cried old Fezziwig, skipping down from the high desk with wonderful agility. “Clear away, my lads, and let’s have lots of room here! Hilli-ho, Dick! Cheer-up, Ebenezer!” Clear away! There was nothing they wouldn’t have cleared away, or couldn’t have cleared away with old Fezziwig looking on. It was done in a minute. Every movable was packed off, as if it were dismissed from public life forevermore; the floor was swept and watered, the lamps were trimmed, fuel was heaped upon the fire; and the warehouse was as snug, and warm, and dry, and bright a ballroom as you would desire to see on a winter’s night. In came a fiddler with a music book, and went up to the lofty desk and made an orchestra of it and tuned like fifty stomach aches. In came Mrs. Fezziwig, one vast substantial smile. In came the three Misses Fezziwig, beaming and lovable. In came the six followers whose hearts they broke. In came all the young men and women employed in the business. In came the housemaid with her cousin the baker. In came the cook with her brother’s particular friend the milkman. In came the boy from over the way, who was suspected of not having board enough from his master, trying to hide himself behind the girl from next door but one who was proved to have had her ears pulled by her mistress; in they all came, any-how and every-how. Away they all went, twenty couple at once; hands half round and back again the other way; down the middle and up again; round and round in various stages of affectionate grouping, old top couple always turning up in the wrong place; new top couple starting off again, as soon as they got there; all top couples at last, and not a bottom one to help them. When this result was brought about the fiddler struck up “Sir Roger de Coverley.” Then old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezziwig. Top couple, too, with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them; three or four and twenty pairs of partners; people who were not to be trifled with; people who would dance and had no notion of walking. But if they had been thrice as many, oh, four times as many, old Fezziwig would have been a match for them, and so would Mrs. Fezziwig. As to her, she was worthy to be his partner in every sense of the term. If that’s not high praise, tell me higher and I’ll use it. A positive light appeared to issue from Fezziwig’s calves. They shone in every part of the dance like moons. You couldn’t have predicted at any given time what would become of them next. And when old Fezziwig and Mrs. Fezziwig had gone all through the dance, advance and retire; both hands to your partner, bow and courtesy, corkscrew, thread the needle, and back again to your place; Fezziwig cut so deftly that he appeared to wink with his legs, and came upon his feet again with a stagger. When the clock struck eleven the domestic ball broke up. Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig took their stations, one on either side of the door, and shaking hands with every person individually, as he or she went out, wished him or her a Merry Christmas!.…

I saw…

I Saw a Peacock, with a fiery tail, I saw a Blazing Comet, drop down hail, I saw a Cloud, with Ivy circled round, I saw a sturdy Oak, creep on the ground, I saw a Pismire, swallow up a Whale, I saw a raging Sea, brim full of Ale, I saw a Venice Glass, Sixteen foot deep, I saw a well, full of mens tears that weep, I saw their eyes, all in a flame of fire, I saw a House, as big as the Moon and higher, I saw the Sun, even in the midst of night, I saw the man, that saw this wondrous sight.…

John Milton

On His Blindness When I consider how my light is spent Ere half my days in this dark world and wide, And that one talent which is death to hide Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present My true account, lest he returning chide, “Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?” I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed And post o’er land and ocean without rest: They also serve who only stand and wait.”…

John McCrae

In Flanders Field In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below. We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie, In Flanders fields. Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.…

Lord Byron

The Destruction of Sennacherib The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold, And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold; And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea, When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee. Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green, That host with their banners at sunset were seen: Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown, That host on the morrow lay withered and strown. For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed; And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still! And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide, But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride; And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf, And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf. And there lay the rider distorted and pale, With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail: And the tents were all silent, the banners alone, The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown. And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail, And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal; And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword, Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!…

T E Hulme

Autumn A touch of cold in the Autumn night — I walked abroad, And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge Like a red-faced farmer. I did not stop to speak, but nodded, And round about were the wistful stars With white faces like town children.…

Robert Southey

The Old Man’s Comforts and how he gained them You are old, Father William the young man cried, The few locks which are left you are grey; You are hale, Father William, a hearty old man, Now tell me the reason, I pray. In the days of my youth, Father William replied, I remember’d that youth would fly fast, And abused not my health and my vigour at first, That I never might need them at last. You are old, Father William, the young man cried, And pleasures with youth pass away; And yet you lament not the days that are gone, Now tell me the reason, I pray. In the days of my youth, Father William replied, I remember’d that youth could not last; I thought of the future, whatever I did, That I never might grieve for the past. You are old, Father William, the young man cried, And life must be hastening away; You are cheerful, and love to converse upon death, Now tell me the reason, I pray. I am cheerful, young man, Father William replied, Let the cause thy attention engage; In the days of my youth I remember’d my God! And He hath not forgotten my age.…

William Shakespeare

Good name in man and woman, dear my lord, Is the immediate jewel of their souls: Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing; ‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands: But he that filches from me my good name Robs me of that which not enriches him And makes me poor indeed.…

Randy Alcorn

You are the descendant of a tiny cell of primordial protoplasm washed up on an empty beach three and a half billion years ago. You are the blind and arbitrary product of time, chance, and natural forces. You are a mere grab-bag of atomic particles, a conglomeration of genetic substance. You exist on a tiny planet in a minute solar system in an empty corner of a universe. You are a purely biological entity, different only in degree but not in kind from a microbe, virus, or amoeba. You have no essence beyond your body, and at death you will cease to exist entirely. In short you come from nothing and are going to nowhere. You are the special creation of a good and all-powerful God. You are created in His image; with capacities to think, feel, and worship that set you above all other life forms. You differ from the animals not simply in degree but in kind. Not only is your kind unique, but you are unique among you kind. Your Creator loves you so much and so intensely desires you companionship and affection that he has a perfect plan for you life. In addition God gave the life of His only son that you might spend eternity with Him. If you are willing to accept his gift of salvation, you can become a child of God.…

Douglas Adams

Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.…

Tom Stoppard

We shed as we pick up, like travellers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind. The procession is very long and life is very short. We die on the march. But there is nothing outside the march so nothing can be lost to it. The missing plays of Sophocles will turn up piece by piece, or be written again in another language. Ancient cures for diseases will reveal themselves once more. Mathematical discoveries glimpsed and lost to view will have their time again. You do not suppose, my lady, that if all of Archimedes had been hiding in the great library of Alexandria, we would be at a loss for a corkscrew?…

Jorge Luis Borges

Instants If I could live again my life, In the next – I’ll try, – to make more mistakes, I won’t try to be so perfect, I’ll be more relaxed, I’ll be more full – than I am now, In fact, I’ll take fewer things seriously, I’ll be less hygenic, I’ll take more risks, I’ll take more trips, I’ll watch more sunsets, I’ll climb more mountains, I’ll swim more rivers, I’ll go to more places – I’ve never been, I’ll eat more ice creams and less (lime) beans, I’ll have more real problems – and less imaginary ones, I was one of those people who live prudent and prolific lives – each minute of his life, Offcourse that I had moments of joy – but, if I could go back I’ll try to have only good moments, If you don’t know – thats what life is made of, Don’t lose the now! I was one of those who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, without a hot-water bottle, and without an umberella and without a parachute, If I could live again – I will travel light, If I could live again – I’ll try to work bare feet at the beginning of spring till the end of autumn, I’ll ride more carts, I’ll watch more sunrises and play with more children, If I have the life to live – but now I am 85, – and I know that I am dying ……

E E Cummings

I begin […] with an almost inconceivable assertion: I was born at home. For the benefit of those of you who can’t imagine what the word “home” implies, or what a home could possibly have been like, I should explain that the idea of home is the idea of privacy. But again–what is privacy? You probably never heard of it. Even supposing that (from time to time) walls exist around you, those walls are no longer walls; they are merest pseudosolidities, perpetually penetrated by the perfectly predatory collective organs of sight and sound. Any apparent somewhere which you may inhabit is always at the mercy of a ruthless and omnivorous everywhere. The notion of a house, as one single definite particular and unique place to come into, from the anywhereish and everywhereish world outside–that notion must strike you as fantastic. You have been brought up to believe that a house, or a universe, or a you, or any other object, is only seemingly solid: really (and you are realists, whom nobody and nothing can deceive) each seeming solidity is a collection of large holes–and, in the case of a house, the larger the holes the better; since the principal function of a modern house is to admit whatever might otherwise remain outside. You haven’t the least or feeblest conception of being here, and now, and alone, and yourself. Why (you ask) should anyone want to be here, when (simply by pressing a button) anyone can be in fifty places at once? How could anyone want to be now, when anyone can go whening all over creation at the twist of a knob? What could induce anyone to desire aloneness, when billions of soi-disant dollars are mercifully squandered by a good and great government lest anyone anuywhere should ever for a single instant be alone? As for being yourself–why on earth should you be yourself; when instead of being yourself you can be a hundred, or a thousand, or a hundred thousand thousand, other people? The very thought of being oneself in an epoch or interchangeable selves must appear supremely ridiculous.…

A P Herbert

A man who has made up his mind on a given subject twenty-five years ago and continues to hold his political opinions after he has been proved to be wrong is a man of principle; while he who from time to time adapts his opinions to the changing circumstances of life is an opportunist.…

Carol Ann Duffy

Last Post In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. If poetry could tell it backwards, true, begin that moment shrapnel scythed you to the stinking mud… but you get up, amazed, watch bled bad blood run upwards from the slime into its wounds; see lines and lines of British boys rewind back to their trenches, kiss the photographs from home- mothers, sweethearts, sisters, younger brothers not entering the story now to die and die and die. Dulce- No- Decorum- No- Pro patria mori. You walk away. You walk away; drop your gun (fixed bayonet) like all your mates do too- Harry, Tommy, Wilfred, Edward, Bert- and light a cigarette. There’s coffee in the square, warm French bread and all those thousands dead are shaking dried mud from their hair and queuing up for home. Freshly alive, a lad plays Tipperary to the crowd, released from History; the glistening, healthy horses fit for heroes, kings. You lean against a wall, your several million lives still possible and crammed with love, work, children, talent, English beer, good food. You see the poet tuck away his pocket-book and smile. If poetry could truly write it backwards, then it would.…

Inscription found in a fragment of the Great Wall of China

1) The Three Good Things a) Certainty held in Reserve. b) Unexpected Praise from and Artist. c) Discovery of Nobility in Oneself. 2) The Three Bad Things a) Unworthiness crowned. b) Unconscious Infraction of the the Laws of Behaviour. c) Friendly Condescension of the Imperfectly Educated. 3) The Three Things of both Good and Bad Effect a) Triumphant Anger. b) Banquets of the Rich. c) Honour preserved.…

C S Lewis

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is not part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.…

W H Auden

The poet who writes “free” verse is like Robinson Crusoe on his desert island: he must do all his cooking, laundry and darning for himself. In a few exceptional cases, this manly independence produces something original and impressive, but more often the result is squalor – dirty sheets on the unmade bed and empty bottles on the unswept floor.…

Clive James

When we were kids we fought in the mock battle With Ned Kelly cap guns and we opened the cold bottle Of Shelley’s lemonade with a Scout belt buckle. We cracked the passion fruit and sipped the honeysuckle. When we were kids we lit the Thundercracker Under the fruit tin and we sucked the all day sucker. We opened the shoe box to watch the silk-worms spinning Cocoons of cirrus with oriental cunning. When we were kids we were sun-burned to a frazzle. The beach was a griddle, you could hear us spit and sizzle. We slept face down when our backs came out in blisters. Teachers were famous for throwing blackboard dusters. When we were kids we dive-bombed from the tower. We floated in the inner tube, we bowled the rubber tyre. From torn balloons we blew the cherry bubble. Blowing up Frenchies could get you into trouble. When we were kids we played at cock-a-lorum. Gutter to gutter the boys ran harum-scarum. The girls ran slower and their arms and legs looked funny. You weren’t supposed to drink your school milk in the dunny. When we were kids the licorice came in cables. We traded Hubba-Hubba bubblegum for marbles. A new connie-agate was a flower trapped in crystal Worth just one go with a genuine air pistol. When we were kids we threw the cigarette cards Against the wall and we lined the Grenadier Guards Up on the carpet and you couldn’t touch the trifle Your Aunt Marge made to go in the church raffle. When we were kids we hunted the cicada. The pet cockatoo bit like a barracuda. We were secret agents and fluent in pig Latin. Gutsing on mulberries made our lips shine like black satin. When we were kids we caught the Christmas beetle. Its brittle wings were gold-green like the wattle. Our mothers made bouquets from frangipani. Hard to pronounce, a pink musk-stick cost a penny. When we were kids we climbed peppercorns and willows. We startled the stingrays when we waded in the shallows. We mined the sand dunes in search of buried treasure, And all this news pleased our parents beyond measure. When we were kids the pus would wet the needle When you dug out splinters and a piss was called a piddle. The scabs on your knees would itch when they were ready To be picked off your self-renewing body. When we were kids a year would last forever. Then we grew up and were told it was all over. Now we are old and the memories returning Are like the last stars that fade before the morning.…

Edgar Allan Poe

A Dream In visions of the dark night I have dreamed of joy departed- But a waking dream of life and light Hath left me broken-hearted. Ah! what is not a dream by day To him whose eyes are cast On things around him with a ray Turned back upon the past? That holy dream- that holy dream, While all the world were chiding, Hath cheered me as a lovely beam A lonely spirit guiding. What though that light, thro’ storm and night, So trembled from afar- What could there be more purely bright In Truth’s day-star?…

Oliver Cromwell

It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money. Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth? Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!…

Anneliese Emmans Dean

On The Role Of The Next Century’s Poet Laureate Poetry! Opium of the masses Feed their habit Feed their habit Poetry For the working classes Let ’em have it Let ’em have it Poetry Raise your champagne glasses Chitter chat it Chitter chat it Poetry For the lads and lasses Twitter chav it Twitter chav it Poetry With OAP bus passes Zimmer jab it Zimmer jab it Poetry! Opium of the masses Live it, gab it Give it, fab it Pitter-pat it Tit-for-tat it Skit it, scat it Brit it, bat it!…

Steven Heighton

Some other Just Ones a footnote to Borges The printer who sets this page with skill, though he may not admire it. Singers of solo expertise who defer and find harmonies instead. Anyone whose skeleton is susceptible to music. She who, having loved a book or record, instantly passes it on. Whose heart lilts at a span of vacant highway, the fervent surge of acceleration, psalm of the tires. Adults content to let children bury them in sand or leaves. Those for whom sustaining hatred is a difficulty. Surprised by tenderness on meeting, at a reunion, the persecutors of their youth. Likely to forget debts owed them but never a debt they owe. Apt to read Plutarch or Thich Naht Hahn with the urgency of one reading the morning news. Frightened ones who fight to keep fear from keeping them from life. The barber who, no matter how long the line, will not rush the masterful shave or cut. The small-scale makers of precious obscurios – pomegranate spoons, conductors’ batons, harpsichord tuning hammers, War of 1812 re-enactors’ ramrods, hand-cranks for hurdy-gurdies. The gradeschool that renewed the brownfields back of the A & P and made them ample miraculous May and June. The streetgang that casts no comment as they thin out to let Bob the barking man squawk past them on the sidewalk. The two African medical students in Belgrade, 1983, who seeing a traveller lost and broke took him in and fed him rice and beans cooked over a camp stove in their cubicle of a room and let him sleep there while one of them studied all night at the desk between the beds with the lamp swung low. Those who sit on front porches, not in fenced privacy, in the erotic inaugural summer night steam. Who redeem from neglect a gorgeous, long-orphaned word. Who treat dogs with a sincere and comical diplomacy. Attempt to craft a decent wine in a desperate climate. Clip the chain of consequence by letting others have the last word. Master the banjo. Are operatically loud in love. These people, without knowing it, are saving the world.…

Walt Whitman

A Clear Midnight This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless, Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done, Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best. Night, sleep, and the stars.…

James D Nicoll

The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.…

Abraham Lincoln

1831 Business Failled 1832 Lost job Defeated for state legislature 1833 Failed in business 1836 Had nervous breakdown 1838 Defeated for legislature 1844 Defeated for Congress 1846 Defeated for Congress 1848 Defeated for Congress 1849 Rejected for land officer 1855 Defeated for U.S. Senate 1856 Defeated for nomination for Vice President 1858 Defeated for U.S. Senate 1860 Elected President Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other thing…

John Donne

The Sun Rising Busy old fool, unruly Sun, Why dost thou thus, Through windows, and through curtains, call on us? Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run? Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide Late school-boys and sour prentices, Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride, Call country ants to harvest offices; Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime, Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time. Thy beams so reverend, and strong Why shouldst thou think? I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink, But that I would not lose her sight so long. If her eyes have not blinded thine, Look, and to-morrow late tell me, Whether both th’ Indias of spice and mine Be where thou left’st them, or lie here with me. Ask for those kings whom thou saw’st yesterday, And thou shalt hear, “All here in one bed lay.” She’s all states, and all princes I; Nothing else is; Princes do but play us ; compared to this, All honour’s mimic, all wealth alchemy. Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we, In that the world’s contracted thus; Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be To warm the world, that’s done in warming us. Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere; This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere. Today is the anniversary of John Donne’s death in 1631…

Wole Soyinka

I said: “A tiger does not proclaim his tigritude, he pounces”. In other words: a tiger does not stand in the forest and say: “I am a tiger”. When you pass where the tiger has walked before, you see the skeleton of the duiker, you know that some tigritude has been emanated there.…

Christopher Morley

Printer’s ink has been running a race against gunpowder these many, many years. Ink is handicapped, in a way, because you can blow up a man with gunpowder in half a second, while it may take twenty years to blow him up with a book. But the gunpowder destroys itself along with its victim, while a book can keep on exploding for centuries.…

Austin Clarke

The Planter’s Daughter When night stirred at sea And the fire brought a crowd in, They say that her beauty Was music in mouth And few in the candlelight Thought her too proud, For the house of the planter Is known by the trees. Men that had seen her Drank deep and were silent, The women were speaking Wherever she went – As a bell that is rung Or a wonder told shyly, And O she was the Sunday In every week.…

Joseph Conrad

The worst that could be said of him was that he did not represent his class. He was a seaman, but he was a wanderer, too, while most seamen lead, if one may so express it, a sedentary life. Their minds are of the stay-at-home order, and their home is always with them–the ship; and so is their country–the sea.…

Abraham Lincoln

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. Abraham Lincoln was born 10 score years ago today.…

Robert Frost

Fire and Ice Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice.…

Charlton Ogburn

We trained hard . . . but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.…

Roger Elaine and the Horse

Let’s say a guy named Roger is attracted to a woman named Elaine. He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else. And then, one evening when they’re driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: ”Do you realize that, as of tonight, we’ve been seeing each other for exactly six months?” And then there is silence in the car. To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: Geez, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he’s been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I’m trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn’t want, or isn’t sure of. And Roger is thinking: Gosh. Six months. And Elaine is thinking: But, hey, I’m not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I’d have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward . . . I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person? And Roger is thinking: . . . so that means it was . . . let’s see …February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer’s, which means . . . lemme check the odometer . . . Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here. And Elaine is thinking: He’s upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I’m reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed — even before I sensed it — that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that’s it. That’s why he’s so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He’s afraid of being rejected. And Roger is thinking: And I’m gonna have them look at the transmission again. I don’t carewhat those morons say, it’s still not shifting right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? It’s 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a goddamn garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600. And Elaine is thinking: He’s angry. And I don’t blame him. I’d be angry, too. God, I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can’t help the way I feel. I’m just not sure. And Roger is thinking: They’ll probably say it’s only a 90- day warranty. That’s exactly what they’re gonna say, the scumballs. And Elaine is thinking: maybe I’m just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on hiswhite horse, when I’m sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of my self-centered, schoolgirl romantic fantasy. And Roger is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? I’ll give them a goddamn warranty. I’ll take their warranty and stick it right up their…. . ”Roger,” Elaine says aloud. ”What?” asks Roger, startled. ”Please don’t torture yourself like this,” she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears. ”Maybe I should never have . .Oh God, I feel so…..” (She breaks down, sobbing.) ”What?” says Roger. ”I’m such a fool,” Elaine sobs. ”I mean, I know there’s no knight. I really know that. It’s silly. There’s no knight, and there’s no horse.” ”There’s no horse?” says Roger. ”You think I’m a fool, don’t you?” Elaine says. ”No!” says Roger, glad to finally know the correct answer. ”It’s just that . . . It’s that I . . . I need some time,” Elaine says. (There is a 15-second pause while Roger, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.) ”Yes,” he says. (Elaine, deeply moved, touches his hand.) ”Oh, Roger, do you really feel that way?” she says. ”What way?” says Roger. ”That way about time,” says Elaine. ”Oh,” says Roger. ”Yes.” (Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.) ”Thank you, Roger,” she says. ”Thank you,” says Roger. Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, and weeps until dawn, whereas when Roger gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he never heard of. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures. it’s better if he doesn’t think about it. (This is also Roger’s policyregarding world hunger.) The next day Elaine will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification. They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe……

D H Lawrence

I like relativity and quantum theories Because I don’t understand them And they make me feel as if space shifted About like a swan that can’t settle Refusing to sit still and be measured And as if the atom were an impulsive thing Always changing its mind.…

Benjamin Zephaniah

Talking Turkeys Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas Cos’ turkeys just wanna hav fun Turkeys are cool, turkeys are wicked An every turkey has a Mum. Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas, Don’t eat it, keep it alive, It could be yu mate, an not on your plate Say, Yo! Turkey I’m on your side. I got lots of friends who are turkeys An all of dem fear christmas time, Dey wanna enjoy it, dey say humans destroyed it An humans are out of dere mind, Yeah, I got lots of friends who are turkeys Dey all hav a right to a life, Not to be caged up an genetically made up By any farmer an his wife. Turkeys just wanna play reggae Turkeys just wanna hip-hop Can yu imagine a nice young turkey saying, ‘I cannot wait for de chop’, Turkeys like getting presents, dey wanna watch christmas TV, Turkeys hav brains an turkeys feel pain In many ways like yu an me. I once knew a turkey called – Turkey He said “Benji explain to me please, Who put de turkey in christmas An what happens to christmas trees?”, I said “I am not too sure turkey But it’s nothing to do wid Christ Mass Humans get greedy an waste more dan need be An business men mek loadsa cash’. Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas Invite dem indoors fe sum greens Let dem eat cake an let dem partake In a plate of organic grown beans, Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas An spare dem de cut of de knife, Join Turkeys United an dey’ll be delighted An yu will mek new friends ‘FOR LIFE’.…

Boris Johnson

from The Perils of the Pushy Parents One Christmas in the usual way The school put on a touching play To mark Our Lord’s nativity Young Molly was enthralled to be Elected by her cheering class To play the reasr end of the ASS ‘What DO you mean?’ cried Molly’s mum. ‘They’ve made you act a donkey’s bum? How dare they force my little lass to imitate as ass’s ass? We rather hoped the BBC Would hire you as a news trainee. And after that it’s our intent To shove you into parliament. Up the greasy pole – and then Propel you into Number 10! But as it is your school, God rot ’em. Potrays you as some dobbin’s bottom. What kind of university Wants “donkey bum” on your CV?’ Before the girl could disabuse her Mum had found the show’s producer And as a stork devours a frog She seized the trembling pedagogue. Quite what she whispered in his ear I cannot say and yet I fear It must have been extremely scary He sacked the pupil playing Mary And handing her a donkey’s tail He hushed her unbelieving wail: ‘Can it kiddo, you’re a gonner. We’re casting Molly as Madonna!’…

Horace

Odes, Book 3, Verse 29: 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.…