It is no use to complain of low aims; for, whatever people may say, they rule the world.




“Nature doesn’t ask your permission; it doesn’t care about your wishes, or whether you like its laws or not. You’re obliged to accept it as it is, and consequently all its results as well.”


Hang on tightly…

let go lightly.



and so it ends to begin and the cycle repeats itself endlessly…

One has the power to move, to stop and to look up from his simple view.

It is when one holds himself still…he ceases to be and when this awareness becomes him,

the power of direction becomes apparent.



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“If there were dreams to sell, what would you buy?”

Please Listen:
The Phantom Wooer
A ghost, that loved a lady fair,
Ever in the starry air
Of midnight at her pillow stood;
And, with a sweetness skies above
The luring words of human love,
Her soul the phantom wooed.
Sweet and sweet is their poisoned note,
The little snakes of silver throat,
In mossy skulls that nest and lie,
Ever singing, Die, oh! die.
Young soul put off your flesh, and come
With me into the quiet tomb,
Our bed is lovely, dark, and sweet;
The earth will swing us, as she goes,
Beneath our coverlid of snows,
And the warm leaden sheet.
Dear and dear is their poisoned note,
The little snakes of silver throat,
In mossy skulls that nest and lie,
Ever singing, Die, oh! die.
Thomas Lovell Beddoes was born in Clifton, Shropshire, in 1803, to a distinguished and eccentric
family. His mother was a sister of the novelist Maria Edgeworth; his father, often referred to in
his time as ‘the celebrated Dr Beddoes’, was a colleague of Sir Humphry Davy, who lived with the
Beddoes family and taught at the Pneumatic Institution in Clifton, where Dr Beddoes administered
laughing-gas to Coleridge. The doctor also tried his hand at poetry; his long poem ‘Alexander’s
Expedition down the Hydaspes and the Indus to the Indian Ocean’ has been called ‘one of the
strangest books in English’.
Beddoes has often been called a ‘poet of fragments’, most of which are embedded in unfinished
Jacobean-style tragedies. Their dramatic structure has the form of quicksand, in which dazzling
shreds of poetry sink or swim. His magnum opus was to have been Death’s Jest Book, a kind of
bottomless pit that absorbed most of his creative energies during his final years. As in all his
plays, the plot is murky to the point of incomprehensibility, and the characters exist mainly to
mouth Beddoes’ extraordinary lines, though they do collide messily with one another. One critic
has observed that they have ‘the essential unity of dream characters’ who meet ‘in the dreamer’
and are merely ’emanations of the central idea’. All this does result in a bizarre kind of
theatricality, and it might be interesting to try to sit through a staged version of Death’s
Jest Book. Unlikelier closet dreams have made it to the boards.
Death was Beddoes’ main subject, both as a poet and as a medical man; he seems relaxed and happy only when writing about it. Pound (in the Pisan Cantos) mentions ‘Mr Beddoes/(T.L.) prince
of morticians . . . centuries hoarded/to pull up a mass of algae/(and pearls).’ Any anthologist
is bound to include a bit of the former (the creepy ‘Oviparous Tailor’, for instance) as well as
some of the latter, and none can avoid ‘Dream Pedlary’: his most anthologized poem, it is also
one of the most seamlessly beautiful lyrics in the English language.Pound evokes ‘the odour of eucalyptus or sea wrack’ in Beddoes; one could add those of rose,
sulphur and sandalwood to this unlikely but addictive bouquet. Edmund Gosse, whose landmark
edition of Beddoes’ work appeared in 1890, got it almost right in his preface: ‘At the feast of
the muses he appears bearing little except one small savoury dish, some cold preparation, we may
say, of olives and anchovies, the strangeness of which has to make up for its lack of importance.
Not every palate enjoys this hors d’oeuvre, and when that is the case, Beddoes retires;
he has nothing else to give. He appeals to a few literary epicures, who, however, would deplore
the absence of this oddly flavoured dish as much as that of any more important piece de
resistance.’ One should qualify that by adding that in the century since it was written, the
little band has swollen to something like a hungry horde, avid for what Pater called ‘something
that exists in this world in no satisfying measure, or not at all.’
One drop of Manna in a shower of brine.
he ghost of wasps shall haunt thee, naughty bud.
Bury him deep. So damned a work should lie
Nearer the Devil than man. Make him a bed
Beneath some lock-jawed hell, that never yawns
With earthquake or eruption; and so deep
That he may hear the devil and his wife
In bed, talking secrets.
To carry on…
And for more…

I Never Prize an Easy Fair

The huntsman o’er the hills pursues
The timid hare, and keenly views
The tracks of hinds amid the snow,
Nor heeds the wint’ry winds that blow.
But should a stranger mildly say,
Accept the game I kill’d today;
The proffer’d gift he quickly scorns,
And to th’ uncertain chase returns:
Such is my love; I never prize
An easy fair, but her who flies.

Callimachus (c. 310-240 B.C.)

Amoretti LXXIX: Men Call you Fair

Men call you fair, and you do credit it,
For that your self ye daily such do see:
But the true fair, that is the gentle wit,
And vertuous mind, is much more prais’d of me.
For all the rest, how ever fair it be,
Shall turn to naught and lose that glorious hue:
But only that is permanent and free
From frail corruption, that doth flesh ensue.
That is true beauty: that doth argue you
To be divine, and born of heavenly seed:
Deriv’d from that fair Spirit, from whom all true
And perfect beauty did at first proceed.
He only fair, and what he fair hath made,
All other fair, like flowers untimely fade.

‾ Edmund Spenser


The Reindeer Maiden

A Siberian Tale

Please Listen:

ONE WINTRY DAY IN SIBERIA, long, long ago, the Moon gazed down on the snowy fields. As he watched the people traveling across the land together, he grew lonely, and so he drifted nearer, watching closely. Before long he understood he must visit this place. So the Moon transformed into human form, and in this way he moved about the world, studying the ways of the people.

One day in his travels he happened upon a wandering herd of reindeer led by a lovely maiden, the reindeer herder’s daughter.

Every winter, the reindeer herder gave her a magical reindeer and sent her to lead his huge herd from their home deep in the snowy land to lush, faraway pastures. Now, as the maiden and her reindeer traveled, she played her flute to entertain herself and to fill the long, dark, lonely days.

The Moon had heard the maiden’s melodies as he traveled across the sky. Now, on earth, he heard the familiar music, and the sound lured him closer. He began to follow the reindeer maiden and her herd. He watched her every movement; he gazed at her face. He listened to her wistful tunes.

After a while, he decided he could not live without her. He knew he must marry the Reindeer Maiden and take her home with him to the sky. Then, he thought, he would never again be lonely.

And so he hurried after her, resolved to capture her.

But the magical reindeer sensed the Moon growing closer, and she heard the voice of one of her reindeer whispering, “The Moon wishes to capture you. You must take care.”

At that same moment the maiden felt the Moon’s presence. “What shall I do?” she whispered to the magical reindeer. You see, she had no desire to be captured – not by the Moon or anyone. She loved her life just as it was. She loved taking those long treks across the snowy landscape. She loved her music. She loved the friendship of her animal herd. And so she began to feel afraid.

Sensing their leader’s fear, the reindeer slowed, and soon the Moon was nearly upon them. The reindeer maiden whispered to her magical reindeer, “Help,” and with his magical powers, he turned the maiden into a snowdrift.

When the Moon reached the herd, he looked around, puzzled, he asked, “Where has your maiden gone?”

The creatures ignored him. They simply moved on, trampling icy snow underfoot, taking great care not to step upon their maiden. As soon as the magical reindeer saw that the Moon was lost among the herd, he turned the maiden back into human form, and together they dashed toward the sturdy yaranga, the tent where the maiden slept at night.

Meanwhile, the Moon searched through the herd. When he saw a light, he looked up, and he rushed toward the tent, but just before he reached the opening, the magical reindeer turned the maiden into an oil lamp.

The Moon walked inside and cried, “I’ve found you,” but there he saw only a bed and the tent poles, a block and a hammer, and in one corner a shimmering oil lamp. Mystified he called, “Where are you? I wish to marry you…” He listened, but he heard only the steady breathing of the great herd of reindeer outside and the hiss of the
flickering lamp.

The Moon called again. “Please come to me,” but no one answered.

He walked outside and once again began to search through the herd, and the moment he was outside, the maiden transformed into her own body. There was a twinkle
in her eye and a smile on her face as she opened the tent flap. She cried into the frigid air, “What’s wrong with you? Can’t you see I’m right here!”

Hearing her voice, the Moon raced back toward the yaranga, but before he reached it, the reindeer maiden again turned into an oil lamp. Now the Moon was growing frantic.
“Where are you? I hear your voice but where have you gone?”

Again nobody answered, and again the Moon walked outside to search, and once more the reindeer maiden turned into herself, and again she walked to the opening of the
tent and called, “What’s wrong with you? I’m right here…”

Each time the Moon tried to find her, the reindeer maiden transformed shape once more, and in this way she remained hidden.

The Moon was desperate. He rushed this way and that, crying, “Please, please…let me find you, let me see you…” And in his wild search, he grew exhausted.

When the maiden saw that the Moon had grown weak and tired, she grabbed a sack, ducked out of the tent and threw this over the Moon’s head. Then she bound
his legs and arms and pulled him inside her warm tent. She smiled. “Now I have captured you!”

The Moon begged, “Please, set me free.”

“And if I do? What will you offer me in return?”

The Moon thought awhile. Trapped inside that tent, unable to move, he longed for the sky, for the sweetness of his nighttime journeys, for the freedom he had so loved.
“I promise if you set me free, I shall return to the sky, and I will offer light to your people.”

The maiden thought about this for a while. Then she said, “But sometimes we will wish for darkness.”

And so the Moon agreed. “When the people wish for darkness, I shall disappear, and I shall measure out the year, season by season. Each month I will give you a different
light. There will be times for hunting and times for frost, times for new leaves and times for newborn calves and brand new days.”

The reindeer maiden smiled, but then she thought again. “I cannot let you go. You will grow strong again, and you will try to capture me. I too love my freedom.”

But the Moon shook his head. He had learned his lesson. He understood why the maiden loved her life just as it was. “Never. You have my word. I will help to look
after you and your people from my place in the sky.”

And so the reindeer maiden set the Moon free, and he returned to the sky.

Ever since that day he has cast his light upon the earth, though sometimes, when he remembers the reindeer maiden, his heart grows faint. and his light fades. It is in those times that the people know the Moon is dreaming of the courageous and wondrous reindeer woman he loved.


On Genius: Piece V



Let us, then, not be surprised if we find men of genius generally unsociable and repellent. It is not their want of sociability that is to blame. Their path through the world is like that of a man who goes for a walk on a bright summer morning. He gazes with delight on the beauty and freshness of nature, but he has to rely wholly on that for entertainment; for he can find no society but the peasants as they bend over the earth and cultivate the soil. It is often the case that a great mind prefers soliloquy to the dialogue he may have in this world. If he condescends to it now and then, the hollowness of it may possibly drive him back to his soliloquy; for in forgetfulness of his interlocutor, or caring little whether he understands or not, he talks to him as a child talks to a doll.

Modesty in a great mind would, no doubt, be pleasing to the world; but, unluckily, it is a contradictio in adjecto. It would compel a genius to give the thoughts and opinions, nay, even the method and style, of the million preference over his own; to set a higher value upon them; and, wide apart as they are, to bring his views into harmony with theirs, or even suppress them altogether, so as to let the others hold the field. In that case, however, he would either produce nothing at all, or else his achievements would be just upon a level with theirs. Great, genuine and extraordinary work can be done only in so far as its author disregards the method, the thoughts, the opinions of his contemporaries, and quietly works on, in spite of their criticism, on his side despising what they praise. No one becomes great without arrogance of this sort. Should his life and work fall upon a time which cannot recognize and appreciate him, he is at any rate true to himself; like some noble traveler forced to pass the night in a miserable inn; when morning comes, he contentedly goes his way.

A poet or philosopher should have no fault to find with his age if it only permits him to do his work undisturbed in his own corner; nor with his fate if the corner granted him allows of his following his vocation without having to think about other people.

For the brain to be a mere laborer in the service of the belly, is indeed the common lot of almost all those who do not live on the work of their hands; and they are far from being discontented with their lot. But it strikes despair into a man of great mind, whose brain-power goes beyond the measure necessary for the service of the will; and he prefers, if need be, to live in the narrowest circumstances, so long as they afford him the free use of his time for the development and application of his faculties; in other words, if they give him the leisure which is invaluable to him.

It is otherwise with ordinary people: for them leisure has no value in itself, nor is it, indeed, without its dangers, as these people seem to know. The technical work of our time, which is done to an unprecedented perfection, has, by increasing and multiplying objects of luxury, given the favorites of fortune a choice between more leisure and culture upon the one side, and additional luxury and good living, but with increased activity, upon the other; and, true to their character, they choose the latter, and prefer champagne to freedom. And they are consistent in their choice; for, to them, every exertion of the mind which does not serve the aims of the will is folly. Intellectual effort for its own sake, they call eccentricity. Therefore, persistence in the aims of the will and the belly will be concentricity; and, to be sure, the will is the centre, the kernel of the world.

But in general it is very seldom that any such alternative is presented. For as with money, most men have no superfluity, but only just enough for their needs, so with intelligence; they possess just what will suffice for the service of the will, that is, for the carrying on of their business. Having made their fortune, they are content to gape or to indulge in sensual pleasures or childish amusements, cards or dice; or they will talk in the dullest way, or dress up and make obeisance to one another. And how few are those who have even a little superfluity of intellectual power! Like the others they too make themselves a pleasure; but it is a pleasure of the intellect. Either they will pursue some liberal study which brings them in nothing, or they will practice some art; and in general, they will be capable of taking an objective interest in things, so that it will be possible to converse with them. But with the others it is better not to enter into any relations at all; for, except when they tell the results of their own experience or give an account of their special vocation, or at any rate impart what they have learned from some one else, their conversation will not be worth listening to; and if anything is said to them, they will rarely grasp or understand it aright, and it will in most cases be opposed to their own opinions. Balthazar Gracian describes them very strikingly as men who are not men — hombres che non lo son. And Giordano Bruno says the same thing: What a difference there is in having to do with men compared with those who are only made in their image and likeness!  And how wonderfully this passage agrees with that remark in the Kurral: The common people look like men but I have never seen anything quite like them. If the reader will consider the extent to which these ideas agree in thought and even in expression, and in the wide difference between them in point of date and nationality, he cannot doubt but that they are at one with the facts of life. It was certainly not under the influence of those passages that, about twenty years ago, I tried to get a snuff-box made, the lid of which should have two fine chestnuts represented upon it, if possible in mosaic; together with a leaf which was to show that they were horse-chestnuts. This symbol was meant to keep the thought constantly before my mind. If anyone wishes for entertainment, such as will prevent him feeling solitary even when he is alone, let me recommend the company of dogs, whose moral and intellectual qualities may almost afford delight and gratification.

Unsung heroes of etymology


“My dear, I used to think I was serving humanity . . . and I pleasured in the thought. Then I discovered that humanity does not want to be served; on the contrary it resents any attempt to serve it. So now I do what pleases myself.”
Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

Please Listen:




Those who look up the origin of a word in a dictionary are rarely interested in the sources of the information they find there. Nor do they realize how debatable most of this information is. Yet serious research stands behind even the controversial statements in a modern etymological dictionary. Accepted hypotheses make their way into print, while guesswork does not. Unfortunately, together with guesswork, many promising conjectures are left by the wayside. Dictionary makers know that the results of linguistic reconstruction are seldom final and “better safe than sorry” is their motto. Hence the recurring phrase, so irritating to non-specialists: “origin unknown.”

Please Read On:




Who in the play of the waves,
Recognizes his blood pressure,
Who the evening last cloud,
Secretly dreaming called sister,

Who in the Shrine of the May-light
In the spring meadows hall,
Shimmer looks in the dew of the grass,
Age gods pale trace,

He is still, after anxious err
Among people intact,
Detached from the illusion of desire,
Finally returned home.

A Nighttime Companion of Solitude


In einem Tal bei armen Hirten
Erschien mit jedem jungen Jahr
Sobald die ersten Lärchen schwirrten
Ein Mädchen schön und wunderbar
Sie war nicht in dem Tal geboren
Man wußte nicht woher sie kam
Und schnell war ihre Spur verloren
Sobald das Mädchen Abschied nahm
Beseligend war ihre Nähe
Und alle Herzen wurden weit
Doch eine Würde eine Höhe
Entfernte die Vertraulichkeit
Sie brachte Blumen mit und früchte
Gereift auf einer andren Flur
In einem andren Sonnenlichte
In einer glücklichen Natur
Und teilte jeden eine Gabe
Dem Früchte jenem Blumen aus
Der Jüngling und der Greis am Stabe
Ein jeder ging beschenkt nach Haus
Willkommen waren alle Gäste
Doch nahte sich ein liebend Paar
Dem reichte sie der Gaben beste
Der Blumen allerschönste dar.