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April 20, 2007

Proverbially Speaking

Quotations #5 and #7 

Continuing with the overhall, the two collections of proverbs have been expanded and re-scripted. with about 100 new additions.

 Collection #5, Proverbial Wisdom, contains collected proverbs from around the world. These include some nicely phrased metaphors, a variety of wide ranging advice, and some with modern-day realism. A sampling is included below.

Collection #7, Annoying Proverbs, contains a list of phrases that, if you grew up in the U.S. or many other english-speaking locales, are 'annoyingly' familiar, as they have been used ad nauseum and parodied to even futher nauseum. I have NOT included any of these because they may already be part of your collective subconscious. You'll thank me later.


The constitution is paper, bayonets are steel. (Konstitisyon se papie, bayonet se fe.)
  Haitian Proverb

Flies know well the sweet seller's beard.
  Lebanese Proverb

If you stop every time a dog barks, your road will never end.
  Arab Proverb

June is too early and July is too late -- for summer.
  Siberian Saying

Little men are fond of long titles.
  German Proverb

When an elephant is in trouble even a frog will kick him.
   Hindu Proverb

April 15, 2007

Worth a Thousand Words?

Quotations #10: Random Visions

Continuing with the revision process, Quotation collection # 10 has been completely updated. In a sense, this is the smallest collection in terms of entries. However, it combines original images with advice and aphorisms from across the Quotations collection.

This also cleans up one of the few areas of material where the source of the original data was unclear. These images are all from TheOtherPages contributors and are of much larger size and quality. So have a browse, and be inspired, forewarned, or whatever.

Two down, twenty-eight to go. Heu. 




April 11, 2007

Getting off to a Good Start

Quotations # 26: Good Starts

I've begun the incredibly laborious process of updating the quotations collections (all 30 of them). I decided to start with #26 (don't ask me why).

 This is an interesting assortment of the opening lines from various stories, with the title, author and date information. It is a great study in contrasts, and an amusing read if you are familiar with the styles of some of the authors.

 I've added another 64 to bring the total to 255. some samples are included below:

 -- Steve

The storm came up out of the southwest like a fiend, stalking its prey on legs of lightning.
  --Abarat, by Clive Barker, 2002

The customs agent spent more time than usual examining the sword that my wife had brought into the country and then asked what we intended to do with it.
  --The Pilgrimage, by Paul Coelho (English Translation), 1992

In the end, write it down.
  --Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher, 2001

"The cow is there," said Ansell, lighting a match and holding it out over the carpet.
  --The Longest Journey, by E.M. Forster, 1907

I'll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination.
  --The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin, 1969

It happened many years ago, before the traders and missionaries first came into the South Seas, while the Polynesians were still great in numbers and fierce of heart.
  --Call it Courage, by Armstrong Sperry, 1940

Lee Chong's grocery, while not a model of neatness, was a miracle of supply.
  --Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck, 1945

April 07, 2007

Campus Sonnets

Campus Visits  / Campus Sonnets

April 7th, 2007

It is interesting to travel, but it is always good to be back home again.  I spent the last week visiting college campuses in the Midwestern U.S. with my oldest son, trying to help him gain some insight on where he might be spending the next stage of his life.

It was also a chance for me to see universities I had known in the past, and see how they have changed, as well as how I have changed in the twenty-odd years since I was a student. Certainly I felt (and must have looked) much older than the students we saw. The locations still felt familiar but the context seemed to have changed. 

This juxtaposition of strong memories of the college environment combined with a sudden feeling of detachment reminded me of the Campus Sonnets by Stephen Vincent Benét, published in Young Adventure in 1918.

It is a quartet of scenes, written in the first person. The first three scenes serve to connect you with the narrator, and with student life – studying late at night, arguing happily with friends, dozing off while studying in a sun-washed window seat. In scene four, the Great War intervenes, disconnecting him suddenly and violently, and he imagines himself back in daily campus life as he lays dying.  His real world experience with war was much different from the ‘clashing of silver helms’ he read about in school.

In the world and times of this century, we find little poetic about war. The conflicts that exist around the globe are not part of a Great War or a Great Cause, unless it is a war against chaos and entropy. We find ourselves almost in a war of definitions - of what constitutes terrorism, or civil war, or genocide, or what exactly it means to ‘win’ a war of attrition. There is always, however, great poetry in the struggles and suffering of the individuals –the soldiers and the survivors who can be equally described as heroes and victims.

We can only hope that some of this conflict is captured, as the War Poets of the early 20th century captured it, in words that break our detachment from what goes on in war a way that slickly edited pictures and prose on the evening news can not. While it may not be trench warfare, the constant news and casualty lists have had the same numbing effect.

As my son and I strolled through university campuses spread across three states, we saw no signs that a war was in-progress elsewhere – neither protests nor recruiting posters. Students went to class, argued, lounged on the lawn in the warming April sun, seemingly stuck in scene three of Benét's poem - oblivious to the past and to the moment. Then one day the wind and snow suddenly returned, and students changed from flip-flops back to to snow boots, from sleeveless shirts to parkas, struggling to make headway against the freezing wind.



Campus Sonnets:

by Stephen Vincent Benét

1. Before an Examination

The little letters dance across the page,

Flaunt and retire, and trick the tired eyes;

Sick of the strain, the glaring light, I rise

Yawning and stretching, full of empty rage

At the dull maunderings of a long dead sage,

Fling up the windows, fling aside his lies;

Choosing to breathe, not stifle and be wise,

And let the air pour in upon my cage.

The breeze blows cool and there are stars and stars

Beyond the dark, soft masses of the elms

That whisper things in windy tones and light.

They seem to wheel for dim, celestial wars;

And I -- I hear the clash of silver helms

Ring icy-clear from the far deeps of night.

2. Talk

Tobacco smoke drifts up to the dim ceiling

From half a dozen pipes and cigarettes,

Curling in endless shapes, in blue rings wheeling,

As formless as our talk. Phil, drawling, bets

Cornell will win the relay in a walk,

While Bob and Mac discuss the Giants' chances;

Deep in a morris-chair, Bill scowls at "Falk",

John gives large views about the last few dances.

And so it goes -- an idle speech and aimless,

A few chance phrases; yet I see behind

The empty words the gleam of a beauty tameless,

Friendship and peace and fire to strike men blind,

Till the whole world seems small and bright to hold --

Of all our youth this hour is pure gold.

3. May Morning

I lie stretched out upon the window-seat

And doze, and read a page or two, and doze,

And feel the air like water on me close,

Great waves of sunny air that lip and beat

With a small noise, monotonous and sweet,

Against the window -- and the scent of cool,

Frail flowers by some brown and dew-drenched pool

Possesses me from drowsy head to feet.

This is the time of all-sufficing laughter

At idiotic things some one has done,

And there is neither past nor vague hereafter.

And all your body stretches in the sun

And drinks the light in like a liquid thing;

Filled with the divine languor of late spring.

4. Return -- 1917

"The College will reopen Sept. --."


I was just aiming at the jagged hole

Torn in the yellow sandbags of their trench,

When something threw me sideways with a wrench,

And the skies seemed to shrivel like a scroll

And disappear . . . and propped against the bole

Of a big elm I lay, and watched the clouds

Float through the blue, deep sky in speckless crowds,

And I was clean again, and young, and whole.

Lord, what a dream that was! And what a doze

Waiting for Bill to come along to class!

I've cut it now -- and he -- Oh, hello, Fred!

Why, what's the matter? -- here -- don't be an ass,

Sit down and tell me! -- What do you suppose?

I dreamed I . . . am I . . . wounded? "You are dead."


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