Tiny White Flowers

Tiny White Flowers

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Little Aside

From The Writer's Almanac this morning:

Words of wisdom

by Anonymous

Health Food 

An apple a day
Keeps the doctor away.

Proverbial Advice on Keeping Healthy 

Early to bed and early to rise,
Makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

After dinner sit a while;
After supper walk a mile.

If you wish to live for ever,
You must wash milk from your liver.

He that would live for aye
Must eat sage in May.

Button to chin
Till May be in;
Cast not a clout
Till May be out.

Our fathers, who were wondrous wise,
Did wash their throats before they washed their eyes.

The head and the feet keep warm;
The rest will take no harm

Use three physicians' skill: first, Dr Quiet,
Then Dr. Merriman and Doctor Diet.


When black snails cross your path,
Black clouds much moisture hath.

Evening red and morning grey,
Are the sure signs of a fine day.

Red sky in the morning,
Shepherd's warning.
Red sky at night,
Shepherd's delight.

I before E 

I before E,
Except after C
(Or when it's 'eigh',
As in 'neighbour' or 'weigh')

Stalagmites and Stalactites 

The mites go up 
And the tites come down.

Recipe for a Pleasant Dinner-Party 

A round table, holding eight;
A hearty welcome and little state;
One dish set on a time,
As plain as you please, but always prime;
Beer for asking for—and in pewter;
Servants who don't require a tutor;
Talking guests and dumb-waiters; Warm plates and hot potaters.

Anonymous words of wisdom — from the Faber Book of Useful Verse (buy now)

It's the birthday of Wallace Stevens, (books by this author) born in Reading, Pennsylvania (1879). His father, a successful lawyer with puritanical leanings, wanted his son Wallace to also grow up to be a lawyer and thereby "make something of himself."

Stevens was an excellent student. He went to Harvard. He wanted to be a journalist, but after a couple of years of writing for a New York paper, he decided that he would fulfill his father's desires and go to law school. Afterward, he took a job with the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company, where he was in charge of inspecting surety claims; he eventually became vice president, and he remained at the job for the rest of his life.

Each day, he walked the two miles between his home and his office, and during these walks to and from work, he composed poetry. He said, "I just write poetry when I feel like it. I write best when I can concentrate, and do that best while walking. Any number of poems have been written on the way from the house to the office. I carry slips of paper in my pocket and put down ideas and notes. Then I hand the notes to Miss Flynn [his secretary], and she types them out. They're pretty indecipherable when she gets them. When they're typed out, they go in the folder."

Some people thought it was odd for an insurance executor to write poetry. Stevens did not. He said, "It gives a man character as a poet to have this daily contact with a job." And he said, "Poetry and surety claims aren't as unlikely a combination as they may seem. There's nothing perfunctory about them for each case is different."

His first collection of poems, Harmonium, was published when he was 43 years old. In 1955, just months before he died, he received both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for his volume Collected Poems. Stevens said, "After one has abandoned a belief in God, poetry is that essence which takes its place as life's redemption."

He wrote:

Poetry is the supreme fiction, madame.
Take the moral law and make a nave of it
And from the nave build haunted heaven. Thus,
The conscience is converted into palms
Like windy citherns, hankering for hymns.
We agree in principle. That's clear. But take
The opposing law and make a peristyle,
And from the peristyle project a masque
Beyond the planets. Thus, our bawdiness,
Unpurged by epitaph, indulged at last,
Is equally converted into palms,
Squiggling like saxophones. And palm for palm,
Madame, we are where we began.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®


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