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Posts Tagged ‘People’

Put Something In

By Shel Silverstein

Sheldon Allan Silverstein (1930-1999)

Draw a crazy picture,
Write a nutty poem,
Sing a mumble-grumble song,
Whistle through your comb.
Do a loony-goony dance
‘Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain’t been there before.

———

Harriet Tubman

By Eloise Greenfield

Eloise Little Greenfield (1929-2021)

Harriet Tubman didn’t take no stuff
Wasn’t scared of nothing neither
Didn’t come in this world to be no slave
And wasn’t going to stay one either

“Farewell!” she sang to her friends one night
She was mighty sad to leave ’em
But she ran away that dark, hot night
Ran looking for her freedom
She ran to the woods and she ran through the woods
With the slave catchers right behind her
And she kept on going till she got to the North
Where those mean men couldn’t find her

Nineteen times she went back South
To get three hundred others
She ran for her freedom nineteen times
To save Black sisters and brothers
Harriet Tubman didn’t take no stuff
Wasn’t scared of nothing neither
Didn’t come in this world to be no slave
And didn’t stay one either

And didn’t stay one either

———

When Earth’s Last Picture is Painted

By Rudyard Kipling

Joseph Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

When Earth’s last picture is painted
and the tubes are twisted and dried,
When the oldest colours have faded,
and the youngest critic has died,
We shall rest, and faith, we shall need it —
lie down for an aeon or two,
Till the Master of All Good Workmen
Shall put us to work anew.

And those that were good shall be happy:
they shall sit in a golden chair;
They shall splash at a ten-league canvas
with brushes of comet’s hair.
They shall find real saints to draw from —
Magdalene, Peter, and Paul;
They shall work for an age at a sitting
and never be tired at all!

And only the Master shall praise us,
and only the Master shall blame;
And no one will work for the money,
and no one will work for the fame,
But each for the joy of the working,
and each, in his separate star,
Shall draw the Thing as he sees It
for the God of Things as They are!

———

Remember

By Christina Rossetti

Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

———

Try Again

By W. E. Hickson

William Edward Hickson (1803-1870)

‘T is a lesson you should heed,
Try, try again;
If at first you don’t succeed,
Try, try again;
Then your courage should appear,
For, if you will persevere,
You will conquer, never fear;
Try, try again.

Once or twice though you should fail,
Try, try again;
If you would at last prevail,
Try, try again;
If we strive, ’tis no disgrace
Though we do not win the race;
What should you do in the case?
Try, try again.

If you find your task is hard,
Try, try again;
Time will bring you your reward,
Try, try again.
All that other folks can do,
Why, with patience, should not you?
Only keep this rule in view:
Try, try again.

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Quotes o’ the Day

Animals are such agreeable friends. They ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.

George Eliot

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It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.

Herman Melville

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Well done is better than well said.

Benjamin Franklin

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I no doubt deserved my enemies, but I don’t believe I deserved my friends.

Walt Whitman

Eliot

Whitman

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A Way With Words

As I noted a while back in this post, I’m not a fan of the works of William Shakespeare. I put it this way:

Most of us, especially we writers, have an ingrained tendency to be precise and literal when we communicate. We try to speak and write in ways that best convey our intended meaning to others. That would seem to be the point: to express thoughts clearly and precisely.

Shakespeare saw it differently. He was among the poets and authors to whom clarity and precision are optional. Their goal, apparently, was to perform and entertain.

Well, I prefer clarity and precision. So I tune out the likes of Shakespeare in favor of, oh, Robert Frost and Sarah Teasdale and Dorothy Parker and Poe and Kipling.

Shakespeare himself, of course, was a genius. His mastery of the English language was astounding. And he created hundreds of new words and phrases, as well as found new ways to use existing ones.

His phrases “break the ice,” “melted into thin air,” and “the lady doth protest too much” are wonderfully, brilliantly descriptive.

Here are other common expressions Shakespeare is credibly thought to have originated:

All that glitters is not gold
All the livelong day
As luck would have it
Be-all and end-all
Brave new world
Breathe one’s last
Brevity is the soul of wit
Clothes make the man
Down the primrose path
Eat me out of house and home
Fancy-free
Fit for the gods
Foregone conclusion
Forever and a day
The game is afoot
Give the devil his due
Good riddance
Greek to me
Have not slept one wink
Heart of gold
In my heart of hearts
Kill with kindness
Knock, knock. Who’s there?
Lie low
Love is blind
Made of sterner stuff
Method in one’s madness
Mind’s eye
My own flesh and blood
Naked truth
Neither rhyme nor reason
Off with his head
One fell swoop
Pitched battle
Pure as the driven snow
Seen better days
Something wicked this way comes
Smells to high heaven
Star-crossed lovers
Strange bedfellows
To each his own
Too much of a good thing
Tower of strength
Wear my heart upon my sleeve
What’s done is done
Wild goose chase
The world is my oyster

As for the individual words he created, most were legitimate and useful, rarely designed for dramatic one-time use, as in Lewis Carroll’s “’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves…”

Many were existing words he cleverly combined, such as cruel-hearted and never-ending.Or words whose usage he changed — converting verbs to adjectives, nouns to verbs, etc., such as converting the noun elbow to a verb to describe the act of elbowing.

Below is a list — abbreviated, mind you — of words attributed to Shakespeare.

Admirable
Arch-villain
Barefaced
Baseless
Belongings
Birthplace
Bloodstained
Bloodsucking
Catlike
Cold-blooded
Cold-hearted
Countless
Dauntless
Disgraceful
Distasteful
Distrustful
Eventful
Excitement
Eyeball
Fairyland
Fanged
Fashionable
Featureless
Fitful
Foul-mouthed
Fretful
Gallantry
Go-between
Homely
Hot-blooded
Ill-tempered
Indistinguishable
Lackluster
Majestic
Malignancy
Meditate
Mimic
Money’s worth
Monumental
Mortifying
Motionless
Nimble-footed
Overblown
Pageantry
Premeditated
Pious
Priceless
Profitless
Quarrelsome
Rawboned
Reclusive
Remorseless
Resolve
Restraint
Savagery
Shipwrecked
Soft-hearted
Spectacled
Swagger
Time-honored
To blanket
To castigate
To champion
To dishearten
To dislocate
To enmesh
To impede
To muddy
To overpower
To perplex
To petition
To rant
To reword
To secure
To sire
To squabble
To sully
To undervalue
To undress
Tranquil
Transcendence
Unappeased
Unchanging
Uneducated
Unquestioned
Unrivaled
Unscratched
Unsolicited
Unsullied
Unswayed
Unvarnished
Unwillingness
Useful
Vulnerable
Well-behaved
Well-bred
Well-educated
Well-read

To sum up, I give the devil his due. I applaud Shakespeare as a wunderkind, a virtuoso of the English language. In that regard, he is unrivaled.

But in my heart of hearts, writing like this turns me off:

Accuse me thus: that I have scanted all
Wherein I should your great deserts repay,
Forgot upon your dearest love to call,
Whereto all bonds do tie me day by day;
That I have frequent been with unknown minds,
And giv’n to time your own dear purchased right;
That I have hoisted sail to all the winds
Which should transport me farthest from your sight.

All I can say is, to each his own.

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The Questions…

1. What is the world’s oldest continuously-inhabited city?

2. In the art world, what is bricolage?

3. What was the first country to give women the right to vote?

4. No major league baseball team uses the number 24 to honor what legendary player?

5. What does BMW stand for?

The Answers…

1. Probably Damascus, Syria. Evidence of habitation there dates back 11,000 years.

2. Bricolage is art created from non-standard material — junk, metal parts, etc. — or mixed media. A collage of photos, for example. The word bricolage comes from the French verb bricoler, which means “to tinker.”

3. New Zealand, 1893.

4. Jackie Robinson.

5. In English, Bavarian Motor Works. In German, Bayerische Motoren Werke.

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More “Useless Facts for Inquiring Minds.”

● Thomas Edison held a total of 2,332 patents worldwide. Today, the president of a semiconductor lab in Japan holds the world record — 5,843 patents and counting.

● English has more words than any other language.

● The average human sheds some 600,000 particles of dead skin per hour, or about 1.5 pounds per year.

● When viewed from the Earth, the Moon goes through eight phases as it progresses from new moon to full moon and back to new moon, as shown below. (The word gibbous refers to being more than half lighted, but less than full, which is the opposite of a crescent.)

● British author Agatha Christie (1890-1976) featured her famous detective Hercule Poirot in 33 novels, 50 short stories, and one play. Christie was honest about the character. She once described Poirot as “a detestable, bombastic, tiresome, egocentric little creep.”

● The word karaoke comes from the Japanese words karappo, which means empty, and oke, a shortened form of okesutura, which means orchestra.

● July 4 is the day in 1776 when the Continental Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence. However, the vote to do so took place on July 2. John Adams and several other founding fathers believed that we chose the wrong day to honor.

● The average adult bald eagle weighs 14 pounds and is about three feet long. Its wingspan, however, is a full seven feet.

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Quotes o’ the Day

Rudeness is the weak person’s imitation of strength.

Eric Hoffer

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The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.

Dante Alighieri

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The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work, and then they get elected and prove it.

P. J. O’Rourke

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The best revenge is to be unlike he who performed the injury.

Marcus Aurelius

Hoffer

Aurelius

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The Questions…

1. What flower bulbs once were used as currency?

2. What is a fipple?

3. The best-selling novel of all time was written in Spain in the early 1600s. What is it?

4. In ancient Egypt, what served as pillows?

5. What is the largest known cave system in the world?

The Answers…

1. Tulip bulbs. In the Dutch Republic in 1634, tulips were a new thing, and a wave of “tulip mania” swept the country. Certain varieties of tulip became coveted luxury items that soon were accepted as currency. The speculative bubble burst in 1637, and the fad fizzled.

2. The mouthpiece of a wind instrument.

3. “Don Quixote” by Miguel de Cervantes. Over 500 million copies sold.

4. Chunks of wood or stone.

5. Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. People have explored 400 miles of it, and national park officials believe another 600 miles is out there. Also, scattered around the region are some 200 smaller caves not connected to the Mammoth system.

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Just Do It

Okay, it’s time. Donald Trump, the disgraceful, traitorous former president, was caught stealing government documents. Attorney General Garland needs to direct his minions to file charges. Just do it.

Here are the facts about Trump, the twice-impeached loser, and the stolen documents.

In August, after a year of politely asking for the return of missing documents, and doing a dance with the Trump lawyers, the FBI finally did the right thing, got a warrant, and raided Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s country club in Palm Beach.

There, FBI agents confiscated 20-odd boxes of documents, among which were over 100 marked secret and top secret, plus a boatload of unclassified files.

All of it was being held illegally. Under the law, when a President leaves office, his documents and emails, all of them, become the property of the US government and must be turned over to the National Archives.

Yes, a judge friendly to Trump wants a “special master” to review the confiscated documents. It was a ham-handed ruling that probably tanked her career. But the fact that Trump stole the material is not in question. He had no legitimate reason to be in possession of any government documents. He stole them.

For a year now, the conversation on the news has been about why Trump took the documents and what he did with them.

Did he sell secrets to the highest bidder? Was his goal to pay debts? Show off? Did classified information end up in the hands of foreign countries? Were people endangered or killed?

Critical questions all, and the answers eventually will surface. But the feds already have enough evidence to charge Trump with stealing the documents. And charge him they should.

Some of the documents confiscated at Mar-a-Lago were so highly classified that the FBI agents who found them needed additional security clearances to process them.

Which is why the Justice Department needs to charge and arrest Trump for theft. DOJ needs to get the process started now. Posthaste. ASAP.

After the filing of charges and the arrest, Trump no doubt would plead not guilty and post bail.

Whether he remains in the US or defects to Russia or Saudi Arabia, his trial should proceed. If he is convicted and sentenced, that’s justice being served, even if he flees and can’t be extradited.

At some point, depending on what their investigation uncovers, DOJ may bring additional charges. They probably will.

Lastly, if Trump’s Nazi goon fans object, well, we have police, national guard, and military forces that can deal with them as appropriate.

File the damn charges.

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Time Does Not Bring Relief

By Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)

Time does not bring relief; you all have lied
Who told me time would ease me of my pain!
I miss him in the weeping of the rain;
I want him at the shrinking of the tide;
The old snows melt from every mountain-side,
And last year’s leaves are smoke in every lane;
But last year’s bitter loving must remain
Heaped on my heart, and my old thoughts abide.
There are a hundred places where I fear
To go, — so with his memory they brim.
And entering with relief some quiet place
Where never fell his foot or shone his face
I say, “There is no memory of him here!”
And so stand stricken, so remembering him.

———

Always Marry An April Girl

By Ogden Nash

Frederic Ogden Nash (1902-1971)

Praise the spells and bless the charms,
I found April in my arms.
April golden, April cloudy,
Gracious, cruel, tender, rowdy;
April soft in flowered languor,
April cold with sudden anger,
Ever changing, ever true —
I love April, I love you.

———

The Summer Day

By Mary Oliver

Mary Jane Oliver (1935-2019)

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean —
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down —
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

———

A Question

By Robert Frost

Robert Lee Frost (1874-1963)

A voice said, Look me in the stars
And tell me truly, men of earth,
If all the soul-and-body scars
Were not too much to pay for birth.

———

If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking

By Emily Dickinson

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (1830-1886)

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

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Landlords grow rich in their sleep without working, risking, or economizing.

John Stuart Mill

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I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.

Stephen Covey

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The moral crisis of our age has nothing to do with gay marriage or abortion; it is insider trading, obscene CEO pay, wage theft from ordinary workers, Wall Street’s continued gambling addiction, corporate payoffs to friendly politicians, and the billionaire takeover of our democracy.

Robert Reich

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I am fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.

George McGovern

Mill

McGovern

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