Then turning to me, he began one of those monologues of his, such as that which put the Member of the Haouse asleep the other day. Why, take your poets, now, say Browning and Tennyson. Don't you think you can say which is the dark-meat and which is the white-meat poet? And so of the people you know; can't you pick out the full-flavored, coarse-fibred characters from the delicate, fine-fibred ones?
And in the same person, don't you know the same two shades in different parts of the character that you find in the wing and thigh of a partridge? I suppose you poets may like white meat best, very probably; you had rather have a wing than a drumstick, I dare say. Perhaps it is because a bird flies with his white-fleshed limbs and walks with the dark-fleshed ones.
Besides, the wing-muscles are nearer the heart than the leg-muscles. I thought that sounded mighty pretty, and paused a moment to pat myself on the back, as is my wont when I say something that I think of superior quality. So I lost my innings; for the Master is apt to strike in at the end of a bar, instead of waiting for a rest, if I may borrow a musical phrase. No matter, just at this moment, what he said; but he talked the Member of the Haouse asleep again.
It is rather dangerous to get the name of being one of these phenomenal manifestations, as one is expected to say something remarkable every time one opens one's mouth in company. It seems hard not to be able to ask for a piece of bread or a tumbler of water, without a sensation running round the table, as if one were an electric eel or a torpedo, and couldn't be touched without giving a shock. A fellow is n't all battery, is he? The idea that a Gymnotus can't swallow his worm without a coruscation of animal lightning is hard on that brilliant but sensational being.
Good talk is not a matter of will at all; it depends—you know we are all half-materialists nowadays—on a certain amount of active congestion of the brain, and that comes when it is ready, and not before. I saw a man get up the other day in a pleasant company, and talk away for about five minutes, evidently by a pure effort of will. His person was good, his voice was pleasant, but anybody could see that it was all mechanical labor; he was sparring for wind, as the Hon.
John Morrissey, M. Do you,—Beloved, I am afraid you are not old enough,—but do you remember the days of the tin tinder-box, the flint, and steel? Presently, after hammering away for his five minutes with mere words, the spark of a happy expression took somewhere among the mental combustibles, and then for ten minutes we had a pretty, wandering, scintillating play of eloquent thought, that enlivened, if it did not kindle, all around it.
If you want the real philosophy of it, I will give it to you. The chance thought or expression struck the nervous centre of consciousness, as the rowel of a spur stings the flank of a racer. Away through all the telegraphic radiations of the nervous cords flashed the intelligence that the brain was kindling, and must be fed with something or other, or it would burn itself to ashes. And all the great hydraulic engines poured in their scarlet blood, and the fire kindled, and the flame rose; for the blood is a stream that, like burning rock-oil, at once kindles, and is itself the fuel.
You can't order these organic processes, any more than a milliner can make a rose. She can make something that looks like a rose, more or less, but it takes all the forces of the universe to finish and sweeten that blossom in your button-hole; and you may be sure that when the orator's brain is in a flame, when the poet's heart is in a tumult, it is something mightier than he and his will that is dealing with him!
As I have looked from one of the northern windows of the street which commands our noble estuary,—the view through which is a picture on an illimitable canvas and a poem in innumerable cantos,—I have sometimes seen a pleasure-boat drifting along, her sail flapping, and she seeming as if she had neither will nor aim. At her stern a man was laboring to bring her head round with an oar, to little purpose, as it seemed to those who watched him pulling and tugging.
But all at once the wind of heaven, which had wandered all the way from Florida or from Labrador, it may be, struck full upon the sail, and it swelled and rounded itself, like a white bosom that had burst its bodice, and—. I am afraid I am becoming an epicure in words, which is a bad thing to be, unless it is dominated by something infinitely better than itself.
But there is a fascination in the mere sound of articulated breath; of consonants that resist with the firmness of a maid of honor, or half or wholly yield to the wooing lips; of vowels that flow and murmur, each after its kind; the peremptory b and p, the brittle k, the vibrating r, the insinuating s, the feathery f, the velvety v, the bell-voiced m, the tranquil broad a, the penetrating e, the cooing u, the emotional o, and the beautiful combinations of alternate rock and stream, as it were, that they give to the rippling flow of speech,—there is a fascination in the skilful handling of these, which the great poets and even prose-writers have not disdained to acknowledge and use to recommend their thought.
What do you say to this line of Homer as a piece of poetical full-band music? I know you read the Greek characters with perfect ease, but permit me, just for my own satisfaction, to put it into English letters:—. That Greek line, which I do not remember having heard mention of as remarkable, has nearly every consonantal and vowel sound in the language.
Try it by the Greek and by the English alphabet; it is a curiosity. Tell me that old Homer did not roll his sightless eyeballs about with delight, as he thundered out these ringing syllables! It seems hard to think of his going round like a hand-organ man, with such music and such thought as his to earn his bread with. One can't help wishing that Mr. It would hardly do to describe him directly, you know. But you must not think, because the lightning zigzags, it does not know where to strike.
I shall try to go through the rest of my description of our boarders with as little of digression as is consistent with my nature. I think we have a somewhat exceptional company. Since our Landlady has got up in the world, her board has been decidedly a favorite with persons a little above the average in point of intelligence and education. In fact, ever since a boarder of hers, not wholly unknown to the reading public, brought her establishment into notice, it has attracted a considerable number of literary and scientific people, and now and then a politician, like the Member of the House of Representatives, otherwise called the Great and General Court of the State of Massachusetts.
The consequence is, that there is more individuality of character than in a good many similar boardinghouses, where all are business-men, engrossed in the same pursuit of money-making, or all are engaged in politics, and so deeply occupied with the welfare of the community that they can think and talk of little else. At my left hand sits as singular-looking a human being as I remember seeing outside of a regular museum or tent-show. His black coat shines as if it had been polished; and it has been polished on the wearer's back, no doubt, for the arms and other points of maximum attrition are particularly smooth and bright.
Round shoulders,—stooping over some minute labor, I suppose. Very slender limbs, with bends like a grasshopper's; sits a great deal, I presume; looks as if he might straighten them out all of a sudden, and jump instead of walking. Wears goggles very commonly; says it rests his eyes, which he strains in looking at very small objects. Voice has a dry creak, as if made by some small piece of mechanism that wanted oiling. I don't think he is a botanist, for he does not smell of dried herbs, but carries a camphorated atmosphere about with him, as if to keep the moths from attacking him.
I must find out what is his particular interest. One ought to know something about his immediate neighbors at the table. This is what I said to myself, before opening a conversation with him. Everybody in our ward of the city was in a great stir about a certain election, and I thought I might as well begin with that as anything. Great competition, sir, between the dipterists and the lepidopterists as to which shall get in their candidate. Several close ballotings already; adjourned for a fortnight. Poor concerns, both of 'em. Wait till our turn comes.
I should like to put my eyes on the individual entitled to that name! A society may call itself an Entomological Society, but the man who arrogates such a broad title as that to himself, in the present state of science, is a pretender, sir, a dilettante, an impostor! No man can be truly called an entomologist, sir; the subject is too vast for any single human intelligence to grasp.
I am often spoken of as a Coleopterist,—he said,—but I have no right to so comprehensive a name. The genus Scarabaeus is what I have chiefly confined myself to, and ought to have studied exclusively. The beetles proper are quite enough for the labor of one man's life. Call me a Scarabaeist if you will; if I can prove myself worthy of that name, my highest ambition will be more than satisfied.
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I think, by way of compromise and convenience, I shall call him the Scarabee. He has come to look wonderfully like those creatures,—the beetles, I mean,—by being so much among them. His room is hung round with cases of them, each impaled on a pin driven through him, something as they used to bury suicides. These cases take the place for him of pictures and all other ornaments. That Boy steals into his room sometimes, and stares at them with great admiration, and has himself undertaken to form a rival cabinet, chiefly consisting of flies, so far, arranged in ranks superintended by an occasional spider.
The old Master, who is a bachelor, has a kindly feeling for this little monkey, and those of his kind. Pretty much all the honest truth-telling there is in the world is done by them. Do you know they play the part in the household which the king's jester, who very often had a mighty long head under his cap and bells, used to play for a monarch? There 's no radical club like a nest of little folks in a nursery.
Did you ever watch a baby's fingers? I have, often enough, though I never knew what it was to own one. I saw what was the matter; he had lost the thread of his talk. That is their first education, feeling their way into the solid facts of the material world.
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When they begin to talk it is the same thing over again in another shape. If there is a crack or a flaw in your answer to their confounded shoulder-hitting questions, they will poke and poke until they have got it gaping just as the baby's fingers have made a rent out of that atom of a hole in his pinafore that your old eyes never took notice of. Then they make such fools of us by copying on a small scale what we do in the grand manner. I wonder if it ever occurs to our dried-up neighbor there to ask himself whether That Boy's collection of flies is n't about as significant in the Order of Things as his own Museum of Beetles?
The Master does not seem to like him much, for some reason or other,—perhaps he has a special aversion to the odor of tobacco. As his forefinger shows a little too distinctly that he uses a pen, I shall compliment him by calling him the Man of Letters, until I find out more about him. I wish I could paint her so as to interest others as much as she does me. But she has not a profusion of sunny tresses wreathing a neck of alabaster, and a cheek where the rose and the lily are trying to settle their old quarrel with alternating victory.
Her hair is brown, her cheek is delicately pallid, her forehead is too ample for a ball-room beauty's. A single faint line between the eyebrows is the record of long—continued anxious efforts to please in the task she has chosen, or rather which has been forced upon her. It is the same line of anxious and conscientious effort which I saw not long since on the forehead of one of the sweetest and truest singers who has visited us; the same which is so striking on the masks of singing women painted upon the facade of our Great Organ,—that Himalayan home of harmony which you are to see and then die, if you don't live where you can see and hear it often.
Many deaths have happened in a neighboring large city from that well-known complaint, Icterus Invidiosorum, after returning from a visit to the Music Hall. The invariable symptom of a fatal attack is the Risus Sardonicus. She gets her living by writing stories for a newspaper. Every week she furnishes a new story. If her head aches or her heart is heavy, so that she does not come to time with her story, she falls behindhand and has to live on credit.
Imagine for one moment what it is to tell a tale that must flow on, flow ever, without pausing; the lover miserable and happy this week, to begin miserable again next week and end as before; the villain scowling, plotting, punished; to scowl, plot, and get punished again in our next; an endless series of woes and busses, into each paragraph of which the forlorn artist has to throw all the liveliness, all the emotion, all the graces of style she is mistress of, for the wages of a maid of all work, and no more recognition or thanks from anybody than the apprentice who sets the types for the paper that prints her ever-ending and ever-beginning stories.
And yet she has a pretty talent, sensibility, a natural way of writing, an ear for the music of verse, in which she sometimes indulges to vary the dead monotony of everlasting narrative, and a sufficient amount of invention to make her stories readable. I have found my eyes dimmed over them oftener than once, more with thinking about her, perhaps, than about her heroes and heroines.
Poor little body! Poor little mind! Poor little soul! She is one of that great company of delicate, intelligent, emotional young creatures, who are waiting, like that sail I spoke of, for some breath of heaven to fill their white bosoms,—love, the right of every woman; religious emotion, sister of love, with the same passionate eyes, but cold, thin, bloodless hands,—some enthusiasm of humanity or divinity; and find that life offers them, instead, a seat on a wooden bench, a chain to fasten them to it, and a heavy oar to pull day and night.
We read the Arabian tales and pity the doomed lady who must amuse her lord and master from day to day or have her head cut off; how much better is a mouth without bread to fill it than no mouth at all to fill, because no head? We have all round us a weary-eyed company of Scheherezades! This is one of them, and I may call her by that name when it pleases me to do so. The next boarder I have to mention is the one who sits between the Young Girl and the Landlady.
In a little chamber into which a small thread of sunshine finds its way for half an hour or so every day during a month or six weeks of the spring or autumn, at all other times obliged to content itself with ungilded daylight, lives this boarder, whom, without wronging any others of our company, I may call, as she is very generally called in the household, The Lady.
In giving her this name it is not meant that there are no other ladies at our table, or that the handmaids who serve us are not ladies, or to deny the general proposition that everybody who wears the unbifurcated garment is entitled to that appellation. Only this lady has a look and manner which there is no mistaking as belonging to a person always accustomed to refined and elegant society. Her style is perhaps a little more courtly and gracious than some would like.
The language and manner which betray the habitual desire of pleasing, and which add a charm to intercourse in the higher social circles, are liable to be construed by sensitive beings unused to such amenities as an odious condescension when addressed to persons of less consideration than the accused, and as a still more odious—you know the word—when directed to those who are esteemed by the world as considerable person ages. But of all this the accused are fortunately wholly unconscious, for there is nothing so entirely natural and unaffected as the highest breeding.
From an aspect of dignified but undisguised economy which showed itself in her dress as well as in her limited quarters, I suspected a story of shipwrecked fortune, and determined to question our Landlady. That worthy woman was delighted to tell the history of her most distinguished boarder. She was, as I had supposed, a gentlewoman whom a change of circumstances had brought down from her high estate. Midas Goldenrod. She had been here in her carriage to call upon her,—not very often.
Three or four years ago they sent her a silver waiter, and every Christmas they sent her a boquet,—it must cost as much as five dollars, the Landlady thought. It smelt sweet enough and looked pretty for a day or two, but the Landlady thought it wouldn't have hurt 'em if they'd sent a piece of goods for a dress, or at least a pocket-handkercher or two, or something or other that she could 'a' made some kind of use of; but beggars must n't be choosers; not that she was a beggar, for she'd sooner die than do that if she was in want of a meal of victuals. There was a lady I remember, and she had a little boy and she was a widow, and after she'd buried her husband she was dreadful poor, and she was ashamed to let her little boy go out in his old shoes, and copper-toed shoes they was too, because his poor little ten—toes—was a coming out of 'em; and what do you think my husband's rich uncle,—well, there now, it was me and my little Benjamin, as he was then, there's no use in hiding of it,—and what do you think my husband's uncle sent me but a plaster of Paris image of a young woman, that was,—well, her appearance wasn't respectable, and I had to take and wrap her up in a towel and poke her right into my closet, and there she stayed till she got her head broke and served her right, for she was n't fit to show folks.
You need n't say anything about what I told you, but the fact is I was desperate poor before I began to support myself taking boarders, and a lone woman without her—her—. The sentence plunged into the gulf of her great remembered sorrow, and was lost to the records of humanity. The Young Girl our Scheherezade used to visit her sometimes, and they seemed to like each other, but the Young Girl had not many spare hours for visiting.
The Lady never found fault, but she was very nice in her tastes, and kept everything about her looking as neat and pleasant as she could.
Change – exciting, unnerving, disturbing the familiar, threatening the comfortable.
Did she do anything to help support herself? All this points to the fact that she was bred to be an ornamental rather than what is called a useful member of society. This is all very well so long as fortune favors those who are chosen to be the ornamental personages; but if the golden tide recedes and leaves them stranded, they are more to be pitied than almost any other class. I think it is unpopular in this country to talk much about gentlemen and gentlewomen.
People are touchy about social distinctions, which no doubt are often invidious and quite arbitrary and accidental, but which it is impossible to avoid recognizing as facts of natural history. Society stratifies itself everywhere, and the stratum which is generally recognized as the uppermost will be apt to have the advantage in easy grace of manner and in unassuming confidence, and consequently be more agreeable in the superficial relations of life.
To compare these advantages with the virtues and utilities would be foolish. Much of the noblest work in life is done by ill-dressed, awkward, ungainly persons; but that is no more reason for undervaluing good manners and what we call high-breeding, than the fact that the best part of the sturdy labor of the world is done by men with exceptionable hands is to be urged against the use of Brown Windsor as a preliminary to appearance in cultivated society.
I mean to stand up for this poor lady, whose usefulness in the world is apparently problematical. She seems to me like a picture which has fallen from its gilded frame and lies, face downward, on the dusty floor.
The picture never was as needful as a window or a door, but it was pleasant to see it in its place, and it would be pleasant to see it there again, and I, for one, should be thankful to have the Lady restored by some turn of fortune to the position from which she has been so cruelly cast down. He passes most of his time in a private observatory, it appears; a watcher of the stars.
That I suppose gives the peculiar look to his lustrous eyes. The Master knows him and was pleased to tell me something about him. You call yourself a Poet,—he said,—and we call you so, too, and so you are; I read your verses and like 'em. But that young man lives in a world beyond the imagination of poets, let me tell you. The daily home of his thought is in illimitable space, hovering between the two eternities. In his contemplations the divisions of time run together, as in the thought of his Maker.
With him also,—I say it not profanely,—one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. This account of his occupation increased the interest his look had excited in me, and I have observed him more particularly and found out more about him. Sometimes, after a long night's watching, he looks so pale and worn, that one would think the cold moonlight had stricken him with some malign effluence such as it is fabled to send upon those who sleep in it. At such times he seems more like one who has come from a planet farther away from the sun than our earth, than like one of us terrestrial creatures.
His home is truly in the heavens, and he practises an asceticism in the cause of science almost comparable to that of Saint Simeon Stylites. Yet they tell me he might live in luxury if he spent on himself what he spends on science.
His knowledge is of that strange, remote character, that it seems sometimes almost superhuman. He knows the ridges and chasms of the moon as a surveyor knows a garden-plot he has measured. He watches the snows that gather around the poles of Mars; he is on the lookout for the expected comet at the moment when its faint stain of diffused light first shows itself; he analyzes the ray that comes from the sun's photosphere; he measures the rings of Saturn; he counts his asteroids to see that none are missing, as the shepherd counts the sheep in his flock.
A strange unearthly being; lonely, dwelling far apart from the thoughts and cares of the planet on which he lives,—an enthusiast who gives his life to knowledge; a student of antiquity, to whom the records of the geologist are modern pages in the great volume of being, and the pyramids a memorandum of yesterday, as the eclipse or occultation that is to take place thousands of years hence is an event of to-morrow in the diary without beginning and without end where he enters the aspect of the passing moment as it is read on the celestial dial. In very marked contrast with this young man is the something more than middle-aged Register of Deeds, a rusty, sallow, smoke-dried looking personage, who belongs to this earth as exclusively as the other belongs to the firmament.
His movements are as mechanical as those of a pendulum,—to the office, where he changes his coat and plunges into messuages and building-lots; then, after changing his coat again, back to our table, and so, day by day, the dust of years gradually gathering around him as it does on the old folios that fill the shelves all round the great cemetery of past transactions of which he is the sexton. Of the Salesman who sits next him, nothing need be said except that he is good-looking, rosy, well-dressed, and of very polite manners, only a little more brisk than the approved style of carriage permits, as one in the habit of springing with a certain alacrity at the call of a customer.
You would like to see, I don't doubt, how we sit at the table, and I will help you by means of a diagram which shows the present arrangement of our seats. Our young Scheherezade varies her prose stories now and then, as I told you, with compositions in verse, one or two of which she has let me look over. Here is one of them, which she allowed me to copy. I think our Scheherezade has never had a lover in human shape, or she would not play so lightly with the firebrands of the great passion. The old Master was talking about a concert he had been to hear. That woman—she had more sense in her little finger than forty medical societies—Florence Nightingale—says that the music you pour out is good for sick folks, and the music you pound out isn't.
Not that exactly, but something like it. I have been to hear some music-pounding. It was a young woman, with as many white muslin flounces round her as the planet Saturn has rings, that did it. She—gave the music-stool a twirl or two and fluffed down on to it like a whirl of soap-suds in a hand-basin. Then she pushed up her cuffs as if she was going to fight for the champion's belt. Then she worked her wrists and her hands, to limber 'em, I suppose, and spread out her fingers till they looked as though they would pretty much cover the key-board, from the growling end to the little squeaky one.
Then those two hands of hers made a jump at the keys as if they were a couple of tigers coming down on a flock of black and white sheep, and the piano gave a great howl as if its tail had been trod on. Dead stop,—so still you could hear your hair growing. Then another jump, and another howl, as if the piano had two tails and you had trod on both of 'em at once, and, then a grand clatter and scramble and string of jumps, up and down, back and forward, one hand over the other, like a stampede of rats and mice more than like anything I call music.
I like to hear a woman sing, and I like to hear a fiddle sing, but these noises they hammer out of their wood and ivory anvils—don't talk to me, I know the difference between a bullfrog and a woodthrush and—. That Boy was in his seat and looking demure enough, but there could be no question that he was the artillery-man who had discharged the missile.
The aim was not a bad one, for it took the Master full in the forehead, and had the effect of checking the flow of his eloquence. How the little monkey had learned to time his interruptions I do not know, but I have observed more than once before this, that the popgun would go off just at the moment when some one of the company was getting too energetic or prolix.
The Boy isn't old enough to judge for himself when to intervene to change the order of conversation; no, of course he isn't. Somebody must give him a hint. I suspect Dr. He looks too knowing. There is certainly a trick somewhere. Why, a day or two ago I was myself discoursing, with considerable effect, as I thought, on some of the new aspects of humanity, when I was struck full on the cheek by one of these little pellets, and there was such a confounded laugh that I had to wind up and leave off with a preposition instead of a good mouthful of polysyllables.
I have watched our young Doctor, however, and have been entirely unable to detect any signs of communication between him and this audacious child, who is like to become a power among us, for that popgun is fatal to any talker who is hit by its pellet. I have suspected a foot under the table as the prompter, but I have been unable to detect the slightest movement or look as if he were making one, on the part of Dr.
Benjamin Franklin. Franklin, who seems very much devoted to his business, and whom I mean to consult about some small symptoms I have had lately. Perhaps it is coming to a new boarding-house.
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The young people who come into Paris from the provinces are very apt—so I have been told by one that knows—to have an attack of typhoid fever a few weeks or months after their arrival. I have not been long enough at this table to get well acclimated; perhaps that is it. Boarding-House Fever. Something like horse-ail, very likely,—horses get it, you know, when they are brought to city stables. A queer discoloration about my forehead.
Query, a bump? Cannot remember any. Might have got it against bedpost or something while asleep. Very unpleasant to look so. I wonder how my portrait would look, if anybody should take it now! I hope not quite so badly as one I saw the other day, which I took for the end man of the Ethiopian Serenaders, or some traveller who had been exploring the sources of the Niger, until I read the name at the bottom and found it was a face I knew as well as my own. I must consult somebody, and it is nothing more than fair to give our young Doctor a chance.
Here goes for Dr.
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The young Doctor has a very small office and a very large sign, with a transparency at night big enough for an oyster-shop. These young doctors are particularly strong, as I understand, on what they call diagnosis,—an excellent branch of the healing art, full of satisfaction to the curious practitioner, who likes to give the right Latin name to one's complaint; not quite so satisfactory to the patient, as it is not so very much pleasanter to be bitten by a dog with a collar round his neck telling you that he is called Snap or Teaser, than by a dog without a collar.
Sometimes, in fact, one would a little rather not know the exact name of his complaint, as if he does he is pretty sure to look it out in a medical dictionary, and then if he reads, This terrible disease is attended with vast suffering and is inevitably mortal, or any such statement, it is apt to affect him unpleasantly. I confess to a little shakiness when I knocked at Dr. Benjamin's office door. And I went in. I don't believe the chambers of the Inquisition ever presented a more alarming array of implements for extracting a confession, than our young Doctor's office did of instruments to make nature tell what was the matter with a poor body.
There were Ophthalmoscopes and Rhinoscopes and Otoscopes and Laryngoscopes and Stethoscopes; and Thermometers and Spirometers and Dynamometers and Sphygmometers and Pleximeters; and Probes and Probangs and all sorts of frightful inquisitive exploring contrivances; and scales to weigh you in, and tests and balances and pumps and electro-magnets and magneto-electric machines; in short, apparatus for doing everything but turn you inside out. Benjamin set me down before his one window and began looking at me with such a superhuman air of sagacity, that I felt like one of those open-breasted clocks which make no secret of their inside arrangements, and almost thought he could see through me as one sees through a shrimp or a jelly-fish.
First he looked at the place inculpated, which had a sort of greenish-brown color, with his naked eyes, with much corrugation of forehead and fearful concentration of attention; then through a pocket-glass which he carried. Then he drew back a space, for a perspective view. Then he made me put out my tongue and laid a slip of blue paper on it, which turned red and scared me a little. Next he took my wrist; but instead of counting my pulse in the old-fashioned way, he fastened a machine to it that marked all the beats on a sheet of paper,—for all the world like a scale of the heights of mountains, say from Mount Tom up to Chimborazo and then down again, and up again, and so on.
In the mean time he asked me all sorts of questions about myself and all my relatives, whether we had been subject to this and that malady, until I felt as if we must some of us have had more or less of them, and could not feel quite sure whether Elephantiasis and Beriberi and Progressive Locomotor Ataxy did not run in the family. After all this overhauling of myself and my history, he paused and looked puzzled. Suddenly a thought struck him. He looked still more closely at the discoloration I have spoken of.
It would be strange if my first case—of this kind—should be one of our boarders! What kind of a case do you call it? Johnson's advice, with the slight variation of giving my days and my nights to trying on the favorite maladies of Addison. You deserve that much.
Yet… it is. Life is on your side. Like, putting your hand on your heart. Focusing on your breathing. I trust you. I believe in you. Feel free again. But you can do it. So I was holding on to hope things get better. Poetry comes to the reader in so many styles and so many forms that just the right poetry is needed for those times when poetry addresses the emotions in ways nothing else can. Housden's collections have always hit just the right chord for me. While there are countless anthologies available, Housden often fill the bill of being exactly what I am looking for.
This collection, Risking Everything, offers a range of poems that is sure to provide me with more than a few that are exactly what I am looking for. I come back to it again and again whenever I am feeling like poetry is just the thing to make me feel better, more pleased with life, and more in need of a little emotional nudge to keep me on track and mindful of the joys and challenges of being alive Apr 11, Patty rated it really liked it Shelves: We rise and gather momentum, the dull strength that pushes us through crowds.
And then the young boy gives me directions so avidly. A woman holds the glass door open, waits patiently for my empty body to pass through. All day it continues, each kindness reaching toward another — a stranger singing to no one as I pass on the path, trees offering their blossoms, a retarded child who lifts his almond eyes and smiles.
Somehow they always find me, seem even to be waiting, determined to keep me from myself, from the thing that calls to me as it must have once called to them — this temptation to step off the edge and fall weightless, away from the world. This is the second one I have read and I would like to read the rest. He always introduces me to new poems and poets. Also he usually includes poems that I already know — however the context of his collections helps me to see those poems more clearly.
It was good to see these both again along with other favorites. I know that many of us have had teachers who meant well, but who taught us that poetry is hard and we need to work to understand what the poet meant. Instead of working, I read poems out loud, slowly. If they hit a nerve or make me happy, I might read them again.
If not, then I move on the next one. I know that not every poem is for every reader. I will be visiting with this book again. I hope other readers will try it. Aug 09, Jon Tupper rated it it was amazing Shelves: It's on my nightstand. It's a healing set of amazing writing. Some of these poems, that I read occasionally before trying to rest, simply stop my mind. Jul 07, Sasha whispersofthesilentwind rated it liked it. I didn't connect or like the flow of most of them.
There were some gems in here but most were kinda 'eh'. Jan 26, AnandaTashie rated it it was amazing Shelves: The introduction states, "Yet it is precisely the crack in our lives that can let the light pour through. I didn't love all of the poems, but I liked a majority, and truly deeply fell in love with a good number. The collection featured some favorite poets like Mary Oliver, Rumi, and E.
Also, lines like these: Jan 28, Joy rated it really liked it Recommended to Joy by: Tracy the yoga instructor.
My yoga instructor often reads a poem or an excerpt from this book during shavasana, and everytime I'm quite moved. It's filled with the classic poets and contemporary poets, the famous and less well-known. Poetry is a great cleanser of the palate in between books, in between moods, late at night. I love the following poem so much, and it's one that found me a long time ago, and then burrowed its way into my sleeping mind, and then found me again. A Blessing by James Wright Just off the highway to My yoga instructor often reads a poem or an excerpt from this book during shavasana, and everytime I'm quite moved.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies Darken with kindness. They have come gladly out of the willows To welcome my friend and me. We step over the barbed wire into the pasture Where they have been grazing all day, alone. They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness That we have come. They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other. There is no loneliness like theirs. At home once more, They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness. I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms, For she has walked over to me And nuzzled my left hand.
She is black and white, Her mane falls wild on her forehead, And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear That is delicate as the skin over a girl's wrist. Mar 05, Kitty rated it really liked it. Sometimes it is a relief to have an anthology instead of constant reading of tottering piles of books, magazines and an overwhelming sense of futility. And with a title, in brackets, "risking everything" I appreciate the efforts of Roger Housden to put in one volume the poem which respond to the Mary Oliver quote that prefaces his introduction. May 17, Jennifer Gilbert rated it it was amazing.
I bought this on a whim and it's now one of my favorite books. If you know anyone going through a hard time or a big transition, this makes an especially great gift If you long to be inspired by something richer than your typical essay but have found poetry too inaccessible or cumbersome in the past, this might be the collection for you; there are some truly I bought this on a whim and it's now one of my favorite books.
If you long to be inspired by something richer than your typical essay but have found poetry too inaccessible or cumbersome in the past, this might be the collection for you; there are some truly gorgeous poems in here that aren't much more difficult to understand than straight prose. Best of all, the overall tone of the book, including the touching introduction, urges you to live larger, more boldly. Mar 12, Lauren rated it it was amazing. If I could give this book a thousand stars, I'd still want to give it more--it's absolutely my favorite book of poems ever, and I am very picky about compilations, even when they're the best of from a single author.
I usually feel that having more than 25 or so poems in one book is overwhelming and I end up not really reading any of them, but this book keeps me fascinated and moved over and over again. I bought it on an intuitive hunch, I've slugged it around so much that I've lost it and then b If I could give this book a thousand stars, I'd still want to give it more--it's absolutely my favorite book of poems ever, and I am very picky about compilations, even when they're the best of from a single author.
I bought it on an intuitive hunch, I've slugged it around so much that I've lost it and then bought it again. If I could only have one book in the whole world, this would be it--it's really that good. Jan 31, Damon Brandt rated it really liked it. A friend of mine gave me a snippet of a Mary Oliver poem. How is the novel divided? Often I read a couple, because depending on the day's actions, some hit me more potently than others depending on my frame of mind.
The process of close reading should produce a lot of questions. I liked it so much that I went looking to read more.