When you feel something is impossible, remind yourself that Leicester won the league.

But also that your thing is probably still impossible

2 May 2016 | 22:25 | No Comments

Freeman Dyson

My view of the prevalence of doom-and-gloom in Cambridge is that it is a result of the English class system. In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status. As a child of the academic middle class, I learned to look on the commercial middle class with loathing and contempt. Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher, which was also the revenge of the commercial middle class. The academics lost their power and prestige and the business people took over. The academics never forgave Thatcher and have been gloomy ever since

24 April 2016 | 0:34 | No Comments

Princess Elizabeth

I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong. But I shall not have strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in it with me, as I now invite you to do: I know that your support will be unfailingly given. God help me to make good my vow, and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it.

21st April 1947

21 April 2016 | 22:14 | No Comments


I choose to love you in silence…
For in silence I find no rejection,
I choose to love you in loneliness…
For in loneliness no one owns you but me,
I choose to adore you from a distance…
For distance will shield me from pain,
I choose to kiss you in the wind…
For the wind is gentler than my lips,
I choose to hold you in my dreams…
For in my dreams, you have no end…

23 March 2016 | 21:48 | No Comments

C. S. Lewis

What one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.

10 March 2016 | 23:21 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

I strongly object to wrong arguments on the right side. I think I object to them more than to the wrong arguments on the wrong side.

6 March 2016 | 0:01 | No Comments

Murray N. Rothbard

It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.

3 March 2016 | 19:38 | No Comments

Boris Johnson

My policy on cake is pro having it and pro eating it.

22 February 2016 | 0:08 | No Comments

Umberto Eco

I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.

20 February 2016 | 13:38 | No Comments

C. S. Lewis

There have been men before…who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing for God himself.

15 February 2016 | 21:23 | No Comments


A Copper’s Christmas

And now for something just a little bit different…

…A retelling of the Christmas story using detail drawn from a little known historical source – the Daily Crime Bulletin of the Bethlehem Police Department (known by all as the ‘BPD’ – and by some as the ‘Thin Beige Line’).

Published daily by the local Constabulary, the Bulletin offers a fascinating insight into the work of a hitherto unheralded group of women and men – whilst shining new light on an old tale.


Bethlehem Police Department
Daily Crime Bulletin
(Date obscured)

Late Turn – Briefing for Operation Census

– Substantial number of migrants arriving at border during past week;
– Limited community tension reported – no incidents of note;
– Large crowds expected in Bethlehem this evening;
– No intelligence re: pre-planned disorder;
– Terrorism Threat Level remains at ‘Severe’;
– 12 officers on duty;
– Roads Policing Chariot in for repairs – no replacement available.

Start of shift;
2 PCs to fixed post at main Town Checkpoint;
2 PCs to ongoing crime scene at Caesar’s Nightclub;
2 PCs to constant watch in the cells;
Remaining officers out on foot.

Routine patrols – High Street.
Town Centre crowded but peaceful.

Call to Civil Dispute in the foyer of the Judea Travelodge.
Apparent misunderstanding regarding double booking of two suites.
Situation deteriorated as it became apparent that there are no other rooms available – anywhere in the neighbourhood.
Suspects became violent. Two arrests. Now lodging with us overnight.

Suspect detained for Theft of Wine from the Bethlehem Brasserie.
Evidence consumed prior to police arrival.
Suspect unfit for interview until tomorrow morning.

Reports of possible UFO sighting.
Claims of a bright light – moving East to West at height of several thousand feet.
Area Search No Trace.
Possible Nuisance Call.

Multiple calls to disturbance on hillside a mile outside town.
Reports of strobe lighting and loud music.
Initial suspicions of an illegal rave in progress.
On arrival, met by gang of Shepherds and a large quantity of sheep. Shepherds claiming to been visited by angels.
Despite lengthy enquiries and thorough searches, no sound system or lighting equipment found – and no evidence of alcohol or illegal substances. Not even a spliff.
Initially threatened Shepherds with arrest for wasting police time – but settled for a Verbal Warning when they explained that they were leaving anyway.
Last seen running towards Bethlehem Town Centre.

Call from Judea Border Patrol.
They have stopped a group of Travellers who claim to have come from ‘afar’.
Have yet to establish where this is.
The three who appear to be in charge are well dressed and claim to know something about the earlier UFO report.
Search of luggage has revealed a quantity of gold and a container filled with an aromatic and suspicious looking resin.
Enquiries ongoing.

Update from Border Patrol.
Travellers able to prove ownership of gold – and the resin turns out to be something called Myrrh. Checks confirm this isn’t a Controlled Drug.
Allowed on their way.

Call to believed Child Protection case.
Reports of newborn baby being cared for in wholly unsuitable circumstances – apparently in a stable, surrounded by livestock and with no heating or running water.
Unmarried teenage mother with no obvious means of support aside from someone claiming – without documentation – to be her ‘betrothed’.
On arrival, found earlier group of Shepherds in street outside.
Initially threatened them with arrest for Obstructing Police – then saw expression on their faces.
Decided to see for myself what was going on.

Ma’am, I’ve walked this beat for more than 20 years and I’ve seen most things that this line of work puts your way – but I have no words to describe what I saw last night.

No arrests necessary. No explanation adequate. But everything is different now.

By the time you read this, I’ll have finished my shift. If you have any questions about this report, you’ll find me back at the stable door.

If I may Ma’am – and if you have time – you really ought to come and see for yourself.

Bulletin ends.

25 December 2015 | 12:16 | No Comments

Kenneth Grahame

All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked, he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.

‘Rat!’ he found breath to whisper, shaking. ‘Are you afraid?’

‘Afraid?’ murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love. ‘Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet— and yet— O, Mole, I am afraid!’

Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.

30 November 2015 | 9:18 | No Comments

Rowan Williams

Advent Calendar

He will come like last leaf’s fall.
One night when the November wind
has flayed the trees to the bone, and earth
wakes choking on the mould,
the soft shroud’s folding.

He will come like frost.
One morning when the shrinking earth
opens on mist, to find itself
arrested in the net
of alien, sword-set beauty.

He will come like dark.
One evening when the bursting red
December sun draws up the sheet
and penny-masks its eye to yield
the star-snowed fields of sky.

He will come, will come,
will come like crying in the night,
like blood, like breaking,
as the earth writhes to toss him free.
He will come like child.

29 November 2015 | 17:11 | No Comments

Janan Ganesh

The problem is systemic. The tolerable price of democracy is its pesky resistance to strategic government. Every policy is an amendment upon an improvisation upon a half-forgotten contingency, agreed by quarrelling interest groups amid the blare of the electorate.

25 November 2015 | 18:37 | No Comments

Edmund Christopher Pery, 7th Earl of Limerick

the following poem was submitted as the Earl’s Candidature Statement for election as one of the 92 hereditary peers to have a seat in the House of Lords following a vacancy

The Upper House knows none so queer
A creature as the Seatless Peer.
Flamingo-like he stands all day
With no support to hold his sway.
And waits with covert eagerness
For ninety-two to be one less.
Then on to hustings he must pace
Once more to plead his special case.
Noble Lordships, spare a thought
For one so vertically distraught,
And from your seats so well entrenched,
Please vote that mine may be embenched.

5 November 2015 | 13:46 | No Comments

Yogi Berra

Even Napoleon had his Watergate.

23 September 2015 | 9:26 | No Comments

Chanie Gorkin

Worst Day Ever?

Today was the absolute worst day ever
And don’t try to convince me that
There’s something good in every day
Because, when you take a closer look,
This world is a pretty evil place.
Even if
Some goodness does shine through once in a while
Satisfaction and happiness don’t last.
And it’s not true that
It’s all in the mind and heart
True happiness can be attained
Only if one’s surroundings are good
It’s not true that good exists
I’m sure you can agree that
The reality
My attitude
It’s all beyond my control
And you’ll never in a million years hear me say
Today was a very good day

Now read it from bottom to top, the other way,
And see what I really feel about my day.

17 September 2015 | 11:21 | No Comments

Edmund Burke

Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle, reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field.

12 September 2015 | 11:44 | No Comments

Queen Elizabeth II

In the old days the monarch led his soldiers on the battlefield and his leadership at all times was close and personal.

Today things are very different. I cannot lead you into battle, I do not give you laws or administer justice but I can do something else, I can give you my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations.

I believe in our qualities and in our strength, I believe that together we can set an example to the world which will encourage upright people everywhere.

9 September 2015 | 17:30 | No Comments

Japanese proverb

Fall seven times, stand up eight.

6 September 2015 | 22:03 | No Comments


Knowledge may give weight, but accomplishments give luster, and many more people see than weigh.

5 September 2015 | 19:05 | No Comments

Sterling Hayden

Measured in terms of enchantment, is there anything can compare with a chartroom?

30 August 2015 | 13:59 | No Comments

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

What I learned on my own I still remember.

28 August 2015 | 10:55 | No Comments

R S Thomas

The Bright Field

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the
pearl of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realise now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

27 August 2015 | 8:44 | No Comments

C S Lewis

But the most obvious fact about praise – whether of God or anything – strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless . . . shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise – lovers praising their mistresses [Romeo praising Juliet and vice versa], readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game – praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars

My whole, more general, difficulty about praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value.

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It’s not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are, the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.

17 August 2015 | 16:32 | No Comments

Clive James

I am much more interested in the great poem than great poetry.

16 August 2015 | 15:53 | No Comments

William James

Our science is a drop, our ignorance a sea.

12 August 2015 | 15:26 | No Comments

Alexis De Tocqueville

The American, is the Englishman left to himself.

4 August 2015 | 14:30 | No Comments

William Wilberforce

You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.

31 July 2015 | 10:10 | No Comments

Nicholas Nassim Taleb

If you see fraud, and do not say fraud, you are a fraud.

21 July 2015 | 18:05 | No Comments

Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa

For things to remain the same, everything must change.

19 July 2015 | 15:36 | No Comments

George Orwell

England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during “God save the King” than of stealing from a poor box.

3 July 2015 | 16:45 | No Comments

C S Lewis

Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.

14 June 2015 | 20:31 | No Comments

Tony Blair

The election in 2015 could be one in which a traditional left-wing party competes with a traditional right-wing party, with the traditional result

8 May 2015 | 20:57 | No Comments

Emily Dickinson

My friends are my estate.

26 April 2015 | 23:31 | No Comments

Richie Benaud

on leadership:

I think there are two aspects of it, I think it needs to be 90% luck and 10% skill but I give you a very strict warning don’t try it without the skill.

10 April 2015 | 23:31 | No Comments

C S Lewis

Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is finding his place in it, while really it is finding its place in him.

30 March 2015 | 6:15 | No Comments

Robert Burns

On Commissary Goldie’s Brains

Lord, to account who dares thee call,
Or e’er dispute thy pleasure?
Else why, within so thick a wall,
Enclose so poor a treasure?

29 March 2015 | 13:16 | No Comments

Walter Terence Stace

Religion can get on with any sort of astronomy, geology, biology, physics. But it cannot get on with a purposeless and meaningless universe. If the scheme of things is purposeless and meaningless, then the life of man is purposeless and meaningless too. Everything is futile, all effort is in the end worthless. A man may, of course, still pursue disconnected ends, money, fame, art, science, and may gain pleasure from them. But his life is hollow at the center. Hence the dissatisfied, disillusioned, restless, spirit of modern man.

28 March 2015 | 23:21 | No Comments

Mother Teresa (based on a text by Dr Kent Keith)

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

16 March 2015 | 17:36 | No Comments

Monsignor Ronald Knox

The 10 Rules of Detective Fiction

1. The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow.
2. All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course.
3. Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable.
4. No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.
5. No Chinaman must figure in the story.
6. No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right.
7. The detective must not himself commit the crime.
8. The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader.
9. The stupid friend of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind; his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader.
10. Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.

1 March 2015 | 9:31 | No Comments

Miroslav Volf

To remember wrongdoing untruthfully is to act unjustly.

13 February 2015 | 23:58 | No Comments

Christopher Tolkien

Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time. The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away.

3 February 2015 | 12:37 | No Comments

Avril Anderson

Drop English earth on him beneath
Do our sons; and their sons bequeath
His glories and our pride and grief
At Bladon.

For Lionheart that lies below
That feared not toil nor tears nor foe.
Let the oak stand tho’ tempests blow
At Bladon.

So Churchill sleeps, yet surely wakes
Old Warrior where the morning breaks
On sunlit uplands. But the heart aches
At Bladon.

30 January 2015 | 13:28 | No Comments

Adam Smith

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.

22 January 2015 | 11:55 | No Comments

Cardinal Richelieu

Nothing is as dangerous for the state as those who would govern kingdoms with maxims found in books

20 January 2015 | 20:45 | No Comments

Publilius Syrus

Mighty rivers can be easily leaped at their source

16 January 2015 | 18:54 | No Comments

E E Cummings

be of love(a little)
More careful
Than of everything
guard her perhaps only
A trifle less
(merely beyond how very)
closely than
Nothing,remember love by
Her least never with most
memory)give entirely each
Forever its freedom
(Dare until a flower,
understanding sizelessly
Open what thousandth why
discover laughing)

4 January 2015 | 13:57 | No Comments

C S Lewis

There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.

1 January 2015 | 10:09 | No Comments

Frank Johnson

“Stravinsky (I think) said, in a most elaborate jibe, that ‘Richard Strauss is the Puccini of music’. Well, James Callaghan is the Harold Wilson of politics.”

27 December 2014 | 21:21 | No Comments

W H Auden

We would rather be ruined than changed

25 December 2014 | 21:16 | No Comments



21 December 2014 | 14:29 | No Comments

Robert Burns

Be Britain still to Britain true,
Among ourselves united;
For never but by British hands
Must British wrongs be righted!

18 September 2014 | 0:12 | No Comments

William Wilberforce

on the human condition

Truly we must pronounce him “majestic though in ruin”.

8 September 2014 | 9:05 | No Comments

Crispin’s Razor

In any argument every time the word “clearly” is used apply the following definition.

Clearly: (adverb) an incantation uttered in the hope that a reader or listener will not notice that, whilst the truth of the statement that follows it is essential to case being posited, there is in fact no evidence for the truth of that statement nor does it follow logically from any premise already established. Synonyms “undoubtedly”, “naturally”.

27 August 2014 | 5:17 | No Comments

Wanda Landowska (harpsichordist)

I never practice, I always play.

26 August 2014 | 15:12 | No Comments


“Your adorable” she texted
“No YOU’RE adorable” I texted back
and now she thinks I like her and all I was doing was correcting her English.

25 August 2014 | 20:59 | No Comments

Steve Jobs (in 1983)

[Apple’s] strategy is really simple. What we want to do is we want to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes … and we really want to do it with a radio link in it so you don’t have to hook up to anything and you’re in communication with all of these larger databases and other computers.

24 August 2014 | 21:27 | No Comments

Milton Friedman

One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.

23 August 2014 | 11:45 | No Comments

H L Mencken

An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.

22 August 2014 | 19:06 | No Comments

Christian Bovee

Example has more followers than reason.

21 August 2014 | 17:10 | No Comments

Einstein and Chaplin (possibly)

Einstein: What I most admire about your art, is your universality. You don’t say a word, yet the world understands you.

Chaplin: It is true but your glory is even greater: The whole world admires you, even though they don’t understand a word of what you say.

19 August 2014 | 20:26 | No Comments

Sterling Hayden

To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen, who play with their boats at sea — “cruising,” it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.

18 August 2014 | 20:10 | No Comments

Paul Krugman (in 1998)

The growth of the Internet will slow drastically, as the flaw in “Metcalfe’s law”–which states that the number of potential connections in a network is proportional to the square of the number of participants–becomes apparent: most people have nothing to say to each other! By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s.

17 August 2014 | 18:38 | No Comments

Francis Bacon

Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtle; natural philosophy, deep; morals, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend.

16 August 2014 | 23:09 | No Comments

C S Lewis

The sun looks down on nothing half so good as a household laughing together over a meal.

15 August 2014 | 19:54 | No Comments

Tim Harford

As human freedoms go, the freedom to take your custom elsewhere is not a grand or noble one – but neither is it one that we should abandon without a fight.

14 August 2014 | 16:18 | No Comments

T S Eliot

Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still.

13 July 2014 | 9:59 | No Comments

T E Lawrence

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did.

31 May 2014 | 20:21 | No Comments

Tony Benn

If one meets a powerful person – Rupert Murdoch, perhaps, or Joe Stalin or Hitler – one can ask five questions: what power do you have; where did you get it; in whose interests do you exercise it; to whom are you accountable; and, how can we get rid of you? Anyone who cannot answer the last of those questions does not live in a democratic system.

14 March 2014 | 23:42 | No Comments

Kwesi Brew

The Mesh

We have come to the cross-roads
And I must either leave or come with you.
I lingered over the choice
But in the darkness of my doubts
You lifted the lamp of love
And I saw in your face
The road that I should take.

9 March 2014 | 0:50 | No Comments

C S Lewis

We are half-hearted creatures,
fooling about with drink and sex and
ambition when infinite joy is offered us,
like an ignorant child who wants to go on
making mud pies in a slum because he
cannot imagine what is meant by the offer
of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily

7 March 2014 | 16:06 | No Comments

Tom Stoppard

14th March

Einstein born,
Quite unprepared,
For E to equal
MC squared

1 March 2014 | 2:46 | No Comments

Malcolm Muggeridge

The only ultimate disaster that can befall us, I have come to realise, is to feel ourselves to be at home here on earth.

28 January 2014 | 22:35 | No Comments


Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment

29 December 2013 | 14:21 | No Comments

David Coleman

If that had gone in, it would have been a goal.

22 December 2013 | 1:17 | No Comments

William Shakespeare

Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard.
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.

6 December 2013 | 9:39 | No Comments

Ian Dury

The Bus Driver’s Prayer

Our Father,
Who art in Hendon
Harrow Road be Thy name
Thy Kingston come
Thy Wimbledon
In Erith as it is in Hendon.
Give us this day our Berkhamsted
And forgive us our Westminsters
As we forgive those who Westminster against us.

Lead us not into Temple Station
And deliver us from Ealing,
For thine is the Kingston
The Purley and the Crawley,
For Iver and Iver.
Crouch End.

28 November 2013 | 10:14 | No Comments

Thomas Hood

No sun – no moon!
No morn – no noon –
No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member –
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! –

27 November 2013 | 13:13 | No Comments

Stir Up Sunday (from the collect for the last Sunday before Advent)

Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

24 November 2013 | 10:57 | No Comments

C S Lewis

The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning

22 November 2013 | 15:35 | No Comments

Abraham Lincoln

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle field of that war; we are met to dedicate a portion of it as the final resting place of those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this, but in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.

The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or to detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here; but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work that they have thus far so nobly carried on. It is rather for us here to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us; that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that the dead shall not have died in vain. That the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom, and that the government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

20 November 2013 | 0:06 | No Comments

Ian McMillan

Lamb’s Conduit Street

A world in miniature; a universe in a grain of sand.
You can look from one end and see the other end.
You couldn’t call it majestic. It isn’t very grand
And yet I think it’s monumental. A nuanced blend
Of shops and popups and café’s you can pop in,
Slip out of carrying coffee that makes everything clear
And somehow this street quietens the city’s din
And concentrates the careworn mind to the sheer
Pleasure of simply walking down a welcoming street
That asks you to pause, take your time, have a look
And follow a different, independent, subtle beat.
Buy a shirt. Buy a croissant. Meet your mate. Buy a book.
I went there with my son and he turned to me and said
‘This is the perfect street. I’ll always live here in my head.’

13 November 2013 | 1:03 | No Comments

Christopher Logue

To a Friend in Search of Rural Seclusion

When all else fails,
Try Wales.

12 November 2013 | 10:30 | No Comments

Adam Smith

The frugality and industry of private people can repair the breaches which the extravagance of government makes in society’s capital.

29 October 2013 | 23:24 | No Comments

John Davidson

For she’s made of flint and roses, very odd;

15 October 2013 | 7:52 | No Comments

Leonardo da Vinci

It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.

10 October 2013 | 0:54 | No Comments

Calvin Coolidge (possibly)

Women sitting next to him at dinner: Oh Mr President my friend bet me I wouldn’t be able to get you to say three words to me tonight.

Coolidge: You lose

4 October 2013 | 9:27 | No Comments

Milton Friedman

We economists don’t know much, but we do know how to create a shortage. If you want to create a shortage of tomatoes, for example, just pass a law that retailers can’t sell tomatoes for more than two cents per pound. Instantly you’ll have a tomato shortage. It’s the same with oil or gas.

24 September 2013 | 16:39 | No Comments

Robert Browning

Meeting at Night

The grey sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low;
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i’ the slushy sand.

Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, thro’ its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each.

23 September 2013 | 21:54 | No Comments

Elmore Leonard

10 Rules of Good Writing

1 Never open a book with weather.
2 Avoid prologues.
3 Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue.
4 Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” … he admonished gravely.
5 Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.
6 Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose.”
7 Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
8 Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9 Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
10 Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

The most important rule is one that sums up the 10, if it sounds like writing, rewrite it.

20 August 2013 | 16:15 | No Comments

T S Eliot

Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm — but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.

27 July 2013 | 11:13 | No Comments

Richard Rohr

To finally surrender ourselves to healing, we have to have three spaces opened within us – and all at the same time; our opinionated head, our closed down heart, and our defensive and defended body.

24 June 2013 | 8:14 | No Comments

William Douglas-Home


Answer to the exam question “What is the future of coal?”

22 June 2013 | 23:17 | No Comments

William Morris (possibly)

Morris said to have spent much of his time in Paris in the Eiffel tower, painting, sketching, writing and taking many of his meals in its restaurant.

One of the restaurant staff noticed he was a regular visitor and said, “You are certainly impressed with our Tower, monsieur!”

“Impressed?!!” said Morris. “This is the only place in Paris where I can avoid seeing the thing!”

18 June 2013 | 23:13 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

We have all forgotten what we really are. All that we call common sense and rationality and practicality only means that, for certain dead levels of our life, we forget what we have forgotten. All that we call spirit and art and ecstasy only means that for one awful instant, we remember what we forgot

15 June 2013 | 11:28 | No Comments

C S Lewis

True Friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth.

successfully tested for at least two further iterations

9 June 2013 | 20:27 | No Comments

Charles Mackay

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.

3 June 2013 | 18:20 | No Comments

Alan Leshner

The plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘evidence’

27 May 2013 | 22:03 | No Comments

On Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

A bishop interviewing Justin Welby when he first put himself forward for ordination:

I have interviewed a thousand candidates for ordination and you don’t come in the top thousand.

13 May 2013 | 10:47 | No Comments


Things I hate
1) Vandalism
2) Irony
3) Lists

16 April 2013 | 23:58 | No Comments

Margaret Thatcher

I had applied for a job at Imperial Chemical Industries in 1948 and was called for a personal interview. However I failed to get selected. Many years later, I succeeded in finding out why I had been rejected. The remarks written by the selectors on my application were: “This woman is headstrong, obstinate and dangerously self-opinionated!”

9 April 2013 | 22:17 | No Comments

Michael Symmons Roberts


So, God takes your child by the hand
and pulls her from her deathbed.
He says: ‘Feed her, she is ravenous.’

You give her fruits with thick hides
– pomegranate, cantaloupe –
food with weight, to keep her here.

You hope that if she eats enough
the light and dust and love
which weave the matrix of her body

will not fray, nor wear so thin
that morning sun breaks through her,
shadowless, complete.

Somehow this reanimation
has cut sharp the fear of death,
the shock of presence. Feed her

roast lamb, egg, unleavened bread:
forget the herbs, she has an aching
fast to break. Sit by her side,

split skins for her so she can gorge,
and notice how the dawn
draws colour to her just-kissed face.

8 April 2013 | 8:53 | No Comments

Albert Bartlett

The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.

4 April 2013 | 12:57 | No Comments

Winston Churchill

On September 28 the fleet came safely to anchor in Pevensey Bay. There was no opposition to the landing. The local “fyrd” had been called out this year four times already to watch the coast, and having, in true English style, come to the conclusion that the danger was past because it had not yet arrived had gone back to their homes.

24 March 2013 | 10:01 | No Comments

Tom Stoppard

Milne: No matter how imperfect things are, if you’ve got a free press everything is correctable, and without it everything is concealable.
Ruth: I’m with you on the free press. It’s the newspapers I can’t stand.

19 March 2013 | 0:01 | No Comments

Lord Tennyson

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

17 March 2013 | 17:03 | No Comments

George Macdonald

That is always the way with you men; you believe nothing the first time; and it is foolish enough to let mere repetition convince you of what you consider in itself unbelievable.

10 March 2013 | 0:42 | No Comments

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

It is much easier for me to imagine a praying murderer, a praying prostitute, than a vain person praying. Nothing is so odds with prayer as vanity

24 February 2013 | 16:33 | No Comments

Once removed

Show this bold Prussian that praises slaughter, slaughter brings rout.


How his old Russian hat raises laughter, laughter rings out.

6 February 2013 | 0:43 | No Comments

Charles Handy

The McNamara Fallacy

The first step is to measure whatever can be easily measured. This is OK as far as it goes.

The second step is to disregard that which can’t be easily measured or to give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading.

The third step is to presume that what can’t be measured easily really isn’t important. This is blindness.

The fourth step is to say that what can’t be easily measured really doesn’t exist. This is suicide.

3 February 2013 | 10:48 | No Comments

H L Mencken (possibly)

When I hear artists or authors making fun of business men, I think of a regiment in which the band makes fun of the cooks.

2 February 2013 | 23:03 | No Comments

Richard Feynman

What is not surrounded by uncertainty cannot be the truth.

1 February 2013 | 0:13 | No Comments

Gustave Flaubert

Language is a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity.

31 January 2013 | 14:01 | No Comments

Winston Churchill

of Charles de Gaulle

He looks like a female llama who has just been surprised in her bath.

16 January 2013 | 23:52 | No Comments

Thomas Traherne

News from a foreign country came
As if my treasure and my wealth lay there;
So much it did my heart inflame,
‘Twas wont to call my Soul into mine ear;
Which thither went to meet
The approaching sweet,
And on the threshold stood
To entertain the unknown Good.
It hover’d there
As if ‘twould leave mine ear,
And was so eager to embrace
The joyful tidings as they came,
‘Twould almost leave its dwelling-place
To entertain that same.

15 December 2012 | 19:04 | No Comments

C S Lewis

Adherents of Xmas are exhausted and overextended but Christmas worshipers are joyful. Are you rushing or feasting?

15 December 2012 | 1:04 | No Comments

C. S. Lewis

It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.

29 November 2012 | 20:22 | No Comments

Samuel Johnson

What we hope ever to do with ease, we must learn first to do with diligence.

24 November 2012 | 15:33 | No Comments

Yehuda Amichai

The Place Where We Are Right

From the place where we are right
Flowers will never grow
In the spring.

The place where we are right
Is hard and trampled
Like a yard.

But doubts and loves
Dig up the world
Like a mole, a plow.
And a whisper will be heard in the place
Where the ruined
House once stood.

10 November 2012 | 22:20 | No Comments

John Rogers

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year-old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

29 October 2012 | 22:25 | No Comments

Hugh Kingsmill

The well-to-do do not want the poor to suffer. They wish them to be as happy as is consistent with the continued prosperity of the well-to-do.

20 October 2012 | 20:32 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

To be a failure may be one step to being a saint

11 September 2012 | 20:18 | No Comments

Hugh Kingsmill

People who can repeat what you are saying aren’t listening

10 September 2012 | 7:25 | No Comments

Tom Stoppard

(from his television adaption of Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End)

A flat in Holborn! I couldn’t have imagined anything more humiliating!

9 September 2012 | 7:19 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

…the reason why the lives of the rich are at bottom so tame and uneventful is simply that they can choose the events. They are dull because they are omnipotent. They fail to feel adventures because they can make the adventures. The thing which keeps life romantic and full of fiery possibilities is the existence of these great plain limitations which force all of us to meet the things we do not like or do not expect.

8 September 2012 | 12:06 | No Comments

Woody Guthrie

This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright #154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin’ it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.

5 September 2012 | 17:29 | No Comments

Sir Thomas Browne

Be charitable before Wealth makes thee covetous.

31 August 2012 | 23:46 | No Comments

Claude Debussy

of Richard Wagner

A beautiful sunset that was mistaken for a dawn.

30 August 2012 | 21:57 | No Comments

Oliver Wendell Holmes (Snr)

He must be a poor creature that does not often repeat himself.

29 August 2012 | 0:32 | No Comments

Oliver Wendell Holmes (Snr)

He must be a poor creature that does not often repeat himself.

28 August 2012 | 0:32 | No Comments

Willard Van Orman Quine

Quine’s Paradox

“Yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation” yields falsehood when preceded by its quotation.

27 August 2012 | 20:16 | No Comments


Nikainetos, third century BC

I am the grave of Biton, traveller:
If from Torone to Amphipolis you go
Give Nicagoras this message: his one son
Died in a storm, in early winter, before sunrise.

26 August 2012 | 23:23 | No Comments

Of John Wycliffe

The Avon to the Severn runs,
The Severn to the sea,
And Wycliffe’s dust shall spread abroad,
Wide as the waters be.

50 years after his death Wycliffe, who instigated the first full translation of the bible into English, was condemned for heresy and his body was dug up, his bones burned and his ashes poured into the river Avon

23 August 2012 | 0:12 | No Comments

The English Lesson

We’ll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes;
But the plural of ox should be oxen not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
But the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?

If I spoke of my foot and showed you my feet,
When I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?

If the singular is this, and the plural is these,
Why shouldn’t the plural of kiss be kese?
Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet the plural of hat would never be hose.

We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
So plurals in English, I think you’ll agree,
Are indeed very tricky–singularly.

22 August 2012 | 15:22 | No Comments

E F Schumacher

Once you have a formula and an electronic computer, there is an awful temptation to squeeze the lemon until it is dry and present a picture of the future which through its very precision and verisimilitude carries conviction. Yet a man who uses an imaginary map, thinking it a true one, is likely to be worse off than someone with no map at all; for he will fail to inquire wherever he can, to observe every detail on his way, and to search continuously with all his senses and all his intelligence for indications of where he should go.

11 August 2012 | 14:17 | No Comments

Michael Johnson

I didn’t have a pre-race ritual, only a post race one – I stood on a podium and someone put a medal around my neck.

5 August 2012 | 21:53 | No Comments

Thomas Pryor Gore (Gore Vidal’s grandfather)

Never have children, only grandchildren

1 August 2012 | 10:58 | No Comments

Karen Lamb

A year from now you may wish you had started today.

28 July 2012 | 23:23 | No Comments

From the funeral of Otto Von Habsburg

The following traditional Habsburg entombment “knocking” ceremony took place at the door of Vienna’s Capuchin Friary after the funeral followed of Otto Von Habsburg.


Capuchin Friar : “Who desires admission?”

Leader of funeral party: “Otto of Austria, former Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary, Prince Royal of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia, of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia, Lodomeria and Illyria; Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cracow; Duke of Lorraine, Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and Bukowina; Grand Prince of Transylvania, Margrave of Moravia; Duke of Upper and Lower Silesia, Modena, Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla, of Osweicim and Zator, of Teschen, Friaul, Dubrovnik and Zadar; Princely Count of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca; Prince of Trento and Brixen; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and Istria: Count of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenburg; Lord of Trieste, Kotor and Windic March; Grand Voivod of the Voivodship of Serbia”

Friar : “We do not know him!”


Friar : “Who desires admission?”

Leader : “Dr Otto von Habsburg; President and Honorary President of the Pan-European Union; Member and Father of the House of the European Parliament; Holder of honorary doctorates from countless universities and freeman of many communities in Central Europe; Member of numerous noble academies and institutes; Bearer of high and highest awards, decorations and honours of church and state made to him in recognition of his decade-long struggle for the freedom of peoples, for right and justice.”

Friar: “We do not know him!”


Friar : “Who desires admission?”

Leader : “Otto — a mortal, sinful man!”

Friar: “Let him be admitted.”

27 July 2012 | 18:15 | No Comments

Fred Perry

casual comment made within hearing of his opponent in the changing room before a big final

I wouldn’t want to be playing me today.

8 July 2012 | 9:39 | No Comments

Matthew Parris

We have been living beyond our means. We have been paying ourselves more than our efforts were earning. We sought political leaders who would assure us that the good times would never end and that the centuries of boom and bust were over; and we voted for those who offered that assurance. We sought credit for which we had no security and we gave our business to the banks that advertised it. We wanted higher exam grades for our children and were rewarded with politicians prepared to supply them by lowering exam standards. We wanted free and better health care and demanded chancellors who paid for it without putting up our taxes. We wanted salacious stories in our newspapers and bought the papers that broke the rules to provide them. And now we whimper and snarl at MPs, bankers and journalists. Fair enough, my friends, but, you know, we really are all in this together.

2 July 2012 | 23:05 | No Comments

Bruce Cockburn

I’ve been scraping little shavings off my ration of light
And I’ve formed it into a ball, and each time I pack a bit more onto it
I make a bowl of my hands and I scoop it from its secret cache
Under a loose board in the floor
And I blow across it and I send it to you
Against those moments when
The darkness blows under your door

Isn’t that what friends are for?

1 July 2012 | 22:23 | No Comments


(an unmatched left parenthesis creates a unresolved tension that will stay with you all day

19 June 2012 | 19:48 | No Comments

Duke of Wellington

A message to the Foreign Office from Central Spain, August 1812


Whilst marching from Portugal to a position which commands the approach to Madrid and the French forces, my officers have been diligently complying with your requests which have been sent by H.M. ship from London to Lisbon and thence by dispatch to our headquarters.

We have enumerated our saddles, bridles, tents and tent poles, and all manner of sundry items for which His Majesty’s Government holds me accountable. I have dispatched reports on the character, wit, and spleen of every officer. Each item and every farthing has been accounted for, with two regrettable exceptions for which I beg your indulgence.

Unfortunately the sum of one shilling and ninepence remains unaccounted for in one infantry battalion’s petty cash and there has been a hideous confusion as the number of jars of raspberry jam issued
to one cavalry regiment during a sandstorm in western Spain. This reprehensible carelessness may be related to the pressure of circumstance, since we are at war with France, a fact which may come
as a bit of a surprise to you gentlemen in Whitehall.

This brings me to my present purpose, which is to request elucidation of my instructions from His Majesty’s Government so that I may better understand why I am dragging an army over these barren plains. I
construe that perforce it must be one of two alternative duties, as given below. I shall pursue either one with the best of my ability, but I cannot do both:

1. To train an army of uniformed British clerks in Spain for the benefit of the accountants and copy-boys in London or perchance,

2. To see to it that the forces of Napoleon are driven out of Spain.

Your most obedient servant


10 June 2012 | 13:52 | No Comments

Ray Bradbury

Digression is the soul of wit.

6 June 2012 | 23:21 | No Comments

Emily Dickinson

This World is not Conclusion.

This World is not Conclusion.
A Species stands beyond —
Invisible, as Music —
But positive, as Sound —
It beckons, and it baffles —
Philosophy — don’t know —
And through a Riddle, at the last —
Sagacity, must go —
To guess it, puzzles scholars —
To gain it, Men have borne
Contempt of Generations
And Crucifixion, shown —
Faith slips — and laughs, and rallies —
Blushes, if any see —
Plucks at a twig of Evidence —
And asks a Vane, the way —
Much Gesture, from the Pulpit —
Strong Hallelujahs roll —
Narcotics cannot still the Tooth
That nibbles at the soul —

5 June 2012 | 15:01 | No Comments

George Eliot

What loneliness is more lonely than distrust?

2 June 2012 | 0:28 | No Comments

Muphry’s Law

1.if you write anything criticising editing or proofreading, there will be a fault in what you have written;

2.if an author thanks you in a book for your editing or proofreading, there will be mistakes in the book;

3.the stronger the sentiment in (a) and (b), the greater the fault; and

4.any book devoted to editing or style will be internally inconsistent.

25 May 2012 | 19:41 | No Comments

Sam Walter Foss

Strew gladness on the paths of men—
You will not pass this way again.

7 May 2012 | 22:10 | No Comments


If you knew how much work went into it, you would not call it genius.

6 May 2012 | 17:21 | No Comments


to his son

For the Athenians command the rest of Greece, I command the Athenians; your mother commands me, and you command your mother.

23 April 2012 | 0:33 | No Comments

Ross McKitrick

I like visiting nature but I don’t want to live there.

31 March 2012 | 14:53 | No Comments

Richard Buckminster Fuller

Politicians are always realistically maneuvering for the next election. They are obsolete as fundamental problem-solvers.

11 March 2012 | 1:01 | No Comments

Admiral John Jervis

On the prospects of the a French invasion during the Napoleonic wars.

I do not say they cannot come – I only say they cannot come by sea.

7 March 2012 | 1:55 | No Comments

Max Planck

I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.

5 March 2012 | 0:49 | No Comments

John Betjeman

In A Bath Teashop

“Let us not speak, for the love we bear one another —
Let us hold hands and look.”
She such a very ordinary little woman;
He such a thumping crook;
But both, for a moment, little lower than the angels
In the teashop’s ingle-nook.

26 February 2012 | 17:11 | No Comments

Rainer Maria Rilke

Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.

23 February 2012 | 18:21 | No Comments

Gehm’s Corollary

Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.

20 February 2012 | 11:34 | 1 Comment

Christina Rossetti

Were there no God, we would be in this glorious world with grateful hearts and no one to thank.

6 February 2012 | 15:29 | 1 Comment

Philip Larkin

Snow fell, undated. Light

5 February 2012 | 11:33 | No Comments

Federico Fellini

A good opening and a good ending make for a good film provided they come close together.

30 January 2012 | 1:40 | No Comments

Johannes Kepler

Truth is the daughter of time, and I feel no shame in being her midwife.

29 January 2012 | 22:07 | No Comments

Emanuel Lasker

When you see a good move, look for a better one.

14 January 2012 | 23:37 | 1 Comment

Hilaire Belloc

The south-west wind roaring in from the Atlantic…. is, I think the presiding genius of England.

7 January 2012 | 16:05 | No Comments

Tigran Petrosian

on being asked which was his favorite chess piece

It does not really matter, as long as it is an extra one.

6 January 2012 | 23:04 | No Comments


No man ever became extremely wicked all at once.

2 January 2012 | 23:15 | No Comments

Igor Stravinsky

Harpists spend 90% of their time tuning their harps and 10% playing out of tune.

This is a great metaphor – I just haven’t worked out what for!

2 January 2012 | 0:54 | No Comments

Philip Larkin

New Year Poem

Tomorrow in the offices the year on the stamps will be altered;
Tomorrow new diaries consulted, new calendars stand;
With such small adjustments life will again move forward
Implicating us all; and the voice of the living be heard:
“It is to us that you should turn your straying attention;
Us who need you, and are affected by your fortune;
Us you should love and to whom you should give your word.”

31 December 1940

31 December 2011 | 23:59 | No Comments

C S Lewis

“Always winter and never Christmas; think of that.” said Tumnus. “How awful!” said Lucy.

25 December 2011 | 10:36 | No Comments

John Maynard Keynes

The avoidance of taxes is the only intellectual pursuit that still carries any reward.

20 December 2011 | 13:17 | No Comments

Christopher Hitchens

Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realise that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.

19 December 2011 | 10:23 | No Comments

Vaclav Havel

As soon as man began considering himself the source of the highest meaning in the world and the measure of everything, the world began to lose its human dimension, and man began to lose control of it.

18 December 2011 | 23:21 | No Comments

Alexander Pope

Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame.

17 December 2011 | 23:02 | No Comments

T S Eliot

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time

16 December 2011 | 23:34 | No Comments

E E Cummings

A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand. I think, I too, have known autumn too long.

9 December 2011 | 10:07 | 1 Comment

Michel de Montaigne

My life has been full of terrible misfortunes most of which never happened.

5 December 2011 | 2:48 | No Comments

Leonard Bernstein

To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.

30 November 2011 | 23:55 | No Comments

Ellen Sturgis Hooper

I slept, and dreamed that life was Beauty;
I woke, and found that life was Duty.
Was thy dream then a shadowy lie?
Toil on, poor heart, unceasingly;
And thou shalt find thy dream to be
A truth and noonday light to thee.

26 November 2011 | 23:15 | No Comments


The fox knows many tricks; the hedgehog one good one.

25 November 2011 | 7:02 | No Comments

Alfred Adler

The chief danger in life is that you may take too many precautions.

24 November 2011 | 15:33 | No Comments

Oscar Wilde


Single letter telegram sent by Wilde from Paris to his publisher in Britain inquiring how his new book was doing.

The publisher cabled an, arguably, marginally briefer reply:


18 November 2011 | 20:02 | No Comments

Clement Freud

Clement Freud (grandson of Sigmund) was visiting China as part of a parliamentary delegation with Winston Churchill MP and he asked of the authorities…

“I am in your country with a colleague, than whom I am older, have been in parliament longer, have held higher positions in our respective political parties: we are both staying at the Peking Palace Hotel and his suite is bigger than mine. Why?”

The Minister, very embarrassed, finally said: “It is because Mr Churchill had a famous grandfather.”

Clement reflected that “It is the only time that I have been out-grandfathered.”

14 November 2011 | 22:09 | No Comments

Thomas Treherne

Till you can sing and rejoice and delight in God, as misers do in gold, and Kings in sceptres, you never enjoy the world.

10 November 2011 | 6:11 | 1 Comment

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.

9 November 2011 | 7:20 | No Comments

Jorge Luis Borges

Any time something is written against me, I not only share the sentiment but feel I could do the job far better myself. Perhaps I should advise would-be enemies to send me their grievances beforehand, with full assurance that they will receive my every aid and support. I have even secretly longed to write, under a pen name, a merciless tirade against myself.

8 November 2011 | 22:10 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

Rossetti makes the remark somewhere, bitterly but with great truth, that the worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank.

7 November 2011 | 13:48 | No Comments

Robert Anton Wilson

It only takes 20 years for a liberal to become a conservative without changing a single idea.

6 November 2011 | 22:35 | No Comments

Walter Miller Jr

(in slightly different words previously incorrectly attributed to C S Lewis)

You don’t have a soul, Doctor. You are a soul. You have a body, temporarily.

5 November 2011 | 21:11 | 2 Comments

Niels Bohr

There is no quantum world. There is only an abstract physical description. It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about nature…

4 November 2011 | 22:46 | No Comments

P G Wodehouse

Travel is highly educational.

I can’t do with any more education. I was full up years ago.

3 November 2011 | 19:28 | No Comments

C S Lewis

Most political sermons teach the congregation nothing except what newspapers are taken at the Rectory

2 November 2011 | 22:11 | No Comments

John Steinbeck

Man, unlike anything organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments.

1 November 2011 | 23:55 | No Comments

John S Coleman

The point to remember is what the government gives it must first take away.

31 October 2011 | 20:19 | No Comments

William Butler Yeats

Sailing To Byzantium

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

30 October 2011 | 9:55 | No Comments

Kahlil Gibran

Sadness is but a wall between two gardens.

17 October 2011 | 20:13 | No Comments

William Carey

I can plod. I can persevere in any definite pursuit. To this I owe everything.

16 October 2011 | 9:38 | No Comments

Jean-Claude Juncker

We all know what to do, but we don’t know how to get re-elected once we have done it.

1 October 2011 | 0:18 | No Comments

Emma Rounds

‘Twas Euclid, and the theorem pi
Did plane and solid in the text,
All parallel were the radii,
And the ang-gulls convex’d.

“Beware the Wentworth-Smith, my son,
And the Loci that vacillate;
Beware the Axiom, and shun
The faithless Postulate.”

He took his Waterman in hand;
Long time the proper proof he sought;
Then rested he by the XYZ
And sat awhile in thought.

And as in inverse thought he sat
A brilliant proof, in lines of flame,
All neat and trim, it came to him,
Tangenting as it came.

“AB, CD,” reflected he–
The Waterman went snicker-snack–
He Q.E.D.-ed, and, proud indeed,
He trapezoided back.

“And hast thou proved the 29th?
Come to my arms, my radius boy!
O good for you! O one point two!”
He rhombused in his joy.

‘Twas Euclid, and the theorem pi
Did plane and solid in the text;
All parallel were the radii,
And the ang-gulls convex’d.

4 September 2011 | 23:41 | 1 Comment

Precise Tweet

@JamieFro: Someone recently told me: “We’d have less arguments if you weren’t so pedantic”. I replied, “Don’t you mean ‘fewer’?”

3 September 2011 | 22:53 | No Comments

Barbara Tuchman

History is the unfolding of miscalculations

30 August 2011 | 1:00 | No Comments

Immanuel Kant

… skepticism is a resting place for reason, … but it cannot be its permanent dwelling-place.

29 August 2011 | 10:30 | No Comments

Soren Kierkegaard

Face the facts of being what you are, for that is what changes what you are.

21 August 2011 | 1:28 | No Comments

Richard Feynman

Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them.

20 August 2011 | 22:52 | No Comments

James Mackintosh

It is right to be contented with what we have, never with what we are.

18 August 2011 | 21:54 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

Fairyland is nothing but the sunny country of common sense.

8 August 2011 | 0:08 | No Comments

Roald Amundsen

Adventure is just bad planning.

3 August 2011 | 1:07 | No Comments

David Thomson

Eyebrows are made to be raised.

2 August 2011 | 11:34 | No Comments

Natsume Soseki

The winds that blow
Ask them, which leaf of the tree
Will be the next to go.

30 July 2011 | 14:59 | No Comments

Martin Gardner

The last level of metaphor in the Alice books is this: that life, viewed rationally and without illusion, appears to be a nonsense tale told by an idiot mathematician. At the heart of things science finds only a mad, never-ending quadrille of Mock Turtle Waves and Gryphon Particles. For a moment the waves and particles dance in grotesque, inconceivably complex patterns capable of reflecting on their own absurdity.

25 July 2011 | 9:42 | No Comments

Saint Augustine

Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die

11 July 2011 | 14:43 | No Comments

Roger McGough

The only problem
with Haiku is that you just
get started and then

6 July 2011 | 6:48 | No Comments

Marianne Moore

a definition of poetry

“imaginary gardens with real toads in them”

5 July 2011 | 9:30 | No Comments

Samuel Beckett

I was not made for the great light that devours, a dim lamp was all I had been given, and patience without end, to shine it on the empty shadows.

4 July 2011 | 23:34 | No Comments

Will Durant

One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say.

29 June 2011 | 19:08 | No Comments

Michael Faraday

The important thing is to know how to take all things quietly.

16 June 2011 | 9:40 | No Comments

Immanuel Kant

Out of timber so crooked as that from which man is made nothing entirely straight can be carved

9 June 2011 | 15:12 | No Comments

From the movie “Hud”

Little by little the look of the country changes because of the men we admire.

9 May 2011 | 23:47 | No Comments

Milton Friedman

Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.

8 May 2011 | 23:41 | 1 Comment

Samuel Butler

The oldest books are only just out to those who have not read them.

29 April 2011 | 22:58 | No Comments

Truman Capote

of Jack Kerouac

That’s not writing, that’s typing!

28 April 2011 | 18:28 | No Comments

Henry Thomas Buckle

on playing chess against a slow playing opponent

The slowness of genius is hard to bear, but the slowness of mediocrity is intolerable.

10 April 2011 | 15:07 | No Comments

Charles V – Holy Roman Emporer

Fortune hath somewhat the nature of a woman; if she be too much wooed, she is the farther off.

23 March 2011 | 11:47 | No Comments

Joseph Pulitzer

Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light.

18 March 2011 | 0:31 | No Comments

Matt Harvey

Where Earwigs Dare

A silver trail across the monitor;
fresh mouse-droppings beneath the swivel-chair;
the view obscured by rogue japonica.
Released into the wild, where earwigs dare –

you first went freelance – and then gently feral.
You worked from home – then wandered out again,
roughed it with spider, ant, shrew, blackbird, squirrel
in your won realm, your micro-Vatican.

No name conveys exactly what it is –
Chalet? Gazebo? You were not misled
by studios, snugs, garden offices,
workshops or outhouses. A shed’s a shed –

and proud of it. You wouldn’t want to hide it.
Wi-Fi-enabled rain-proof wooden box –
a box to sit in while you think outside it.
Self-rattling cage, den, poop-deck, paradox,

hutch with home-rule, cramped cubicle of freedom,
laboratory, thought-palace, bodger’s bower,
plot both to sow seeds and to go to seed in,
cobwebbed, Cuprinol-scented, Seat of Power.

17 March 2011 | 21:22 | No Comments

Lido Anthony Iacocca

My father always used to say that when you die, if you’ve got five real friends, then you’ve had a great life.

13 March 2011 | 23:12 | 1 Comment

Karl Popper

The game of science is, in principle, without end. He who decides one day that scientific statements do not call for any further test, and that they can be regarded as finally verified, retires from the game.

8 March 2011 | 23:36 | No Comments

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The opposite of success isn’t failure; it is name-dropping.

5 March 2011 | 14:43 | No Comments


Building well has three conditions: firmness, commodity, and delight.

2 March 2011 | 21:13 | No Comments

Ricardo Reis (Hetronym of Fernando Pessoa)

To be great, be whole: don’t exaggerate
Or leave out any part of you.
Be complete in each thing. Put all you are
Into the least of your acts.
So too in each lake, with its lofty life,
The whole moon shines.

1 March 2011 | 20:13 | No Comments

William Shakespeare

So foul a sky clears not without a storm

28 February 2011 | 12:04 | No Comments

Michel de Montaigne

My reason is not framed to bend or stoop; my knees are.

27 February 2011 | 2:14 | No Comments

African Proverb

Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.

26 February 2011 | 20:23 | No Comments

Friedrich Hayek

Liberty is an opportunity for doing good, but this is only so when it is also an opportunity for doing wrong.

25 February 2011 | 23:34 | No Comments

Sigmund Freud

Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me.

2 February 2011 | 11:59 | 1 Comment

Anthony Trollope

He was not so anxious to prove himself right, as to be so.

21 January 2011 | 0:28 | No Comments

Ronald Reagan

Don’t just do something. Stand there.

16 January 2011 | 13:15 | No Comments

P G Wodehouse

Aunt Dahlia was staring at Jeeves like a bear about to receive a bun.

10 January 2011 | 0:12 | No Comments

Mikhail Bulgakov

Manuscripts don’t burn

9 January 2011 | 2:21 | No Comments

Honest Epitaph

Epitaph of Sir John Strange, Master of the Rolls, who died, at the age of fifty-eight, in 1754.

Here lies an honest lawyer,–
that is Strange.

found here

1 January 2011 | 15:10 | No Comments

Jules Henri Poincaré

Thinking must never submit itself, neither to a dogma, nor to a party, nor to a passion, nor to an interest, nor to a preconceived idea, nor to whatever it may be, if not to facts themselves, because, for it, to submit would be to cease to be.

29 December 2010 | 11:17 | No Comments

A A Milne

from “King John’s Christmas.”

Forget about the crackers,
And forget about the candy;
I’m sure a box of chocolates
Would never come in handy;
I don’t like oranges,
I don’t want nuts,
And I HAVE got a pocket-knife
That almost cuts.
But, oh! Father Christmas, if you love me at all,
Bring me a big, red India-rubber ball!

25 December 2010 | 21:01 | No Comments

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The person you are the most afraid to contradict is yourself.

14 December 2010 | 9:41 | No Comments

Jerry Seinfeld

What are lawyers really? To me a lawyer is basically the person that knows the rules of the country. We’re all throwing the dice, playing the game, moving our pieces around the board, but if there’s a problem, the lawyer is the only person that has actually read the inside of the top of the box.

13 December 2010 | 0:56 | No Comments

Division Limerick – John Saxton

A Dozen, a Gross and a Score,
plus three times the square root of four,
Divided by seven,
Plus five times eleven,
Equals nine squared and not a bit more.


12 December 2010 | 0:42 | 1 Comment

Integration Limerick

The Integral of tee-squared dee tee,
From one to the cube root of three,
Times half the cosine,
Of three-pi over nine,
Is the log of the sixth root of e.


11 December 2010 | 12:44 | 1 Comment

Bertrand Russell

Pure mathematics consists entirely of assertions to the effect that, if such and such a proposition is true of anything, then such and such another proposition is true of that thing. It is essential not to discuss whether the first proposition is really true, and not to mention what the anything is, of which it is supposed to be true.

10 December 2010 | 13:46 | No Comments

Irving Chernev

Every chess master was once a beginner.

9 December 2010 | 19:40 | No Comments

Clarence Darrow

You can only be free if I am free.

5 December 2010 | 16:24 | No Comments

Clare Boothe Luce

…. with no cure except as a guillotine might be called a cure for dandruff.

28 November 2010 | 2:05 | No Comments

Ludwig Boltzmann

Elegance should be left to shoemakers and tailors

20 November 2010 | 19:48 | No Comments

John Stanley Purvis

I can’t forget the lane that goes from Steyning to the Ring
In summer time, and on the Down how larks and linnets sing
High in the sun. The wind comes off the sea, and Oh the air!
I never knew till now that life in old days was so fair.
But now I know it in this filthy rat infested ditch
When every shell may spare or kill – and God alone knows which.
And I am made a beast of prey, and this trench is my lair.
My God! I never knew till now that those days were so fair.
So we assault in half an hour, and – it’s a silly thing –
I can’t forget the narrow lane to Chanctonbury Ring.

12 November 2010 | 18:53 | No Comments

Oliver Wendell Holmes (Snr)

I wouldn’t give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity;
I would give my right arm for the simplicity on the far side of complexity.

7 November 2010 | 12:15 | No Comments

Søren Kierkegaard

The truth is a trap: you can not get it without it getting you; you cannot get the truth by capturing it, only by its capturing you.

1 November 2010 | 23:27 | No Comments

Hal Borland

Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.

26 October 2010 | 8:47 | No Comments

Peter Porter

In Australia
Inter alia,
Think they’re Socrates.

25 October 2010 | 22:27 | No Comments

Kitty Grime

of jazz musician and composer John Dankworth

Couth, kempt and shevelled.

11 October 2010 | 22:29 | No Comments

Calvin Coolidge – (mis)attributed

An alledged conversation between the taciturn president and his wife – on being asked by her what the the preacher’s sermon had been about

Coolidge: Sins.
Mrs. Coolidge: Well, what did he say about it?
Coolidge: He was against it.

6 October 2010 | 19:35 | No Comments

Mark Twain

The trouble ain’t that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain’t distributed right.

2 October 2010 | 10:48 | No Comments

Matt Harvey


Early onset

1 October 2010 | 20:33 | 1 Comment

Donald Miller

…there are some guys who don’t believe in God and they can prove He doesn’t exist, and some other guys who do believe in God and they can prove He does exist, and the argument stopped being about God a long time ago and now it’s about who is smarter.

23 September 2010 | 9:33 | No Comments

John Wilkes

Do not ask me, for I am so ignorant that I cannot tell the difference between a king and a knave.

On being asked to play a table of cards, at a time when he was in dispute with the government and court.

21 September 2010 | 13:40 | No Comments

Henry Clay

The time will come when Winter will ask you what you were doing all Summer.

8 September 2010 | 17:49 | No Comments

Don Paterson (writing as François Aussemain)

Nothing is ever lost; things only become irretrievable. What is lost, then, is the method of their retrieval, and what we rediscover is not the thing itself, but the overgrown path, the secret staircase, the ancient sewer.

5 September 2010 | 12:45 | 2 Comments

Robert Benchley

The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.

4 September 2010 | 12:10 | No Comments

Stephen Crane

Three little birds in a row
Sat musing.
A man passed near that place.
Then did the little birds nudge each other.

They said, “He thinks he can sing.”
They threw back their heads to laugh.
With quaint countenances
They regarded him.
They were very curious,
Those three little birds in a row.

3 September 2010 | 7:08 | No Comments

Alan Turing

We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.

27 August 2010 | 6:47 | No Comments

Samuel Madden

In an orchard there should be enough to eat, enough to lay up, enough to be stolen, and enough to rot on the ground.

21 August 2010 | 16:46 | No Comments


Honesty is praised and starves.

(Probitas laudatur et alget)

18 August 2010 | 20:05 | No Comments

Malcolm Muggeridge

On one of my birthdays I was given a toy printing-set with whose rubber letters I was able to print off my first composition. It was a story of a train going along very fast and, to the satisfaction of the passengers, racing through the samll stations along the track without stopping. Their satisfaction, however, turned to dismay, and then to panic fury, as it dawned on them that it was not going to stop at their stations either when it came to them. They raged and shouted and shook their fists, but all to no avail. The train went roaring on. At the time I had no notion what, if anything, the story signified. […] Yet, as I came to see, and see now more clearly than ever, it is the story I have been writing ever since; the story of our time.

16 August 2010 | 19:52 | No Comments

John Henry Newmann

The world is content with setting right the surface of things.

9 August 2010 | 7:35 | 1 Comment

Joseph Brodsky

There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.

8 August 2010 | 15:11 | No Comments

Robert Penn Warren

In separateness only does love learn definition.

7 August 2010 | 10:42 | No Comments

H D Thoreau

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours … In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.

6 August 2010 | 18:03 | No Comments

James Joyce

People could put up with being bitten by a wolf but what properly riled them up was a bite from a sheep.

31 July 2010 | 17:54 | No Comments

Charles Harper Webb


Before she can deliver
the cruncher,
I stride away backwards

My car door opens,
I fall in
as the engine fires.

I speed home in reverse,
unshave, unshower,
plop down in my easy chair

where, picturing what a good
night it’s going to be,
I slowly spit up

a manhattan – dry –
just the way
I like it.

22 July 2010 | 12:44 | No Comments

W H Auden

I Have No Gun, But I Can Spit

Some thirty inches from my nose
The frontier of my Person goes,
And all the untilled air between
Is private pagus or demesne.
Stranger, unless with bedroom eyes
I beckon you to fraternize,
Beware of rudely crossing it:
I have no gun, but I can spit.

16 July 2010 | 12:39 | No Comments

In the Whole Village

In the whole village
The husband alone
Does not know of it

18th Century Japanese poem

15 July 2010 | 7:53 | No Comments

Chrétien de Troyes

For hunger is a sauce, well blended and prepared, for any food.

13 July 2010 | 20:05 | No Comments

Giuseppe Peano

Peano Axioms of the Natural Numbers

1. 0 is a number.
2. The immediate successor of a number is also a number.
3. 0 is not the immediate successor of any number.
4. No two numbers have the same immediate successor.
5. Any property belonging to 0 and to the immediate successor of any number that also has that property belongs to all numbers.

9 July 2010 | 20:06 | No Comments

Charles E Carryl

The Sleepy Giant

My age is three hundred and seventy-two,
And I think, with the deepest regret,
How I used to pick up and voraciously chew
The dear little boys whom I met.
I’ve eaten them raw, in their holiday suits;
I’ve eaten them curried with rice;
I’ve eaten them baked, in their jackets and boots,
And found them exceedingly nice.
But now that my jaws are too weak for such fare,
I think it exceedingly rude
To do such a thing, when I’m quite well aware
Little boys do not like being chewed.

And so I contentedly live upon eels,
And try to do nothing amiss,
And I pass all the time I can spare from my meals
In innocent slumber — like this.

6 July 2010 | 10:20 | No Comments

Ambrose Bierce

Alone (in bad company).

3 July 2010 | 22:20 | No Comments

Josh Billings

It is better to know nothing than to know what ain’t so.

28 June 2010 | 18:37 | No Comments

T E Lawrence

All men dream: but not equally, Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did.

22 June 2010 | 19:57 | 1 Comment

Seneca the Elder

The whole world would have been destroyed if pity did not put an end to anger.

20 June 2010 | 8:07 | No Comments

Philip Larkin

As I get older I get increasingly impatient of holidays they seem to me to be an entirely feminine conception based on an impotent dislike of every day life and the romantic notion that it will all be better in Frinton or Venice

17 June 2010 | 6:50 | No Comments

Philip Larkin

A writer once said to me, If you ever go to America, go either to the East Coast or the West Coast: the rest is a desert full of bigots. That’s what I think I’d like: where if you help a girl trim the Christmas tree you’re regarded as engaged, and her brothers start oiling their shotguns if you don’t call on the minister.

16 June 2010 | 6:45 | No Comments

Japanese Proverb

Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.

15 June 2010 | 21:22 | No Comments

Arthur Miller

The structure of a play is always the story of how the birds came home to roost.

11 June 2010 | 20:54 | No Comments

George Polya

The best of ideas is hurt by uncritical acceptance and thrives on critical examination

9 June 2010 | 21:42 | No Comments

Elizabeth Gaskell

Were all men equal to-night, some would get the start by rising an hour earlier to-morrow.

8 June 2010 | 18:59 | No Comments

Stephen Crane

A singular disadvantage of the sea lies in the fact that after successfully surmounting one wave you discover that there is another behind it just as important and just as nervously anxious to do something effective in the way of swamping boats.

6 June 2010 | 15:53 | No Comments

Richard Feynman

Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.

28 May 2010 | 23:33 | No Comments

Piet Hein


Original thought
is a straightforward process.
It’s easy enough
when you know what to do.
You simply combine
in appropriate doses
the blatantly false
and the patently true.

23 May 2010 | 19:09 | No Comments

Stephen Jay Gould

Details are all that matters: God dwells there, and you never get to see Him if you don’t struggle to get them right.

22 May 2010 | 22:07 | No Comments

Matsuo Basho

The haiku that reveals seventy to eighty percent of its subject is good. Those that reveal fifty to sixty percent, we never tire of.

21 May 2010 | 19:01 | No Comments

George Gamow

There was a young fellow from Trinity,
Who took the square root of infinity.
But the number of digits,
Gave him the fidgets;
He dropped Math and took up Divinity.

11 May 2010 | 17:49 | No Comments

George Catlin

Happiness is not an island, but a hill.

10 May 2010 | 9:24 | No Comments

George Bernard Shaw

A movement which is confined to philosophers and honest men can never exercise any real political influence: there are too few of them. Until a movement shews itself capable of spreading among brigands, it can never hope for a political majority.

9 May 2010 | 19:22 | No Comments

Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

Politics: a Trojan horse race.

8 May 2010 | 11:29 | No Comments

Piet Hein

Majority Rule

His party was the Brotherhood of Brothers,
and there were more of them than of the others.
That is, they constituted that minority
which formed the greater part of the majority.
Within the party, he was of the faction
that was supported by the greater fraction.
And in each group, within each group, he sought
the group that could command the most support.
The final group had finally elected
a triumvirate whom they all respected.
Now, of these three, two had final word,
because the two could overrule the third.
One of these two was relatively weak,
so one alone stood at the final peak.
He was: THE GREATER NUMBER of the pair
which formed the most part of the three that were
elected by the most of those whose boast
it was to represent the most of the most
of most of most of the entire state —
or of the most of it at any rate.
He never gave himself a moment’s slumber
but sought the welfare of the greater number.
And all people, everywhere they went,
knew to their cost exactly what it meant
to be dictated to by the majority.
But that meant nothing, — they were the minority.

7 May 2010 | 8:29 | No Comments

Tom Stoppard

It’s is not the voting that’s democracy; it’s the counting

6 May 2010 | 22:01 | No Comments

John Locke

That which is static and repetitive is boring. That which is dynamic and random is confusing. In between lies art.

3 May 2010 | 20:53 | No Comments

Anton Chekhov

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.

2 May 2010 | 8:23 | No Comments

Tom Stoppard

From “The Real Thing”

ANNIE: You’re jealous of the idea of the writer. You want to keep it sacred, special, not something anybody can do. Some of us have it, some of us don’t. We write, you get written about. What gets you about Brodie is he doesn’t know his place. You say he can’t write like a head waiter saying you can’t come in here without a tie. Because he can’t put words together. What’s so good about putting words together?

HENRY: It’s traditionally considered advantageous for a writer.

ANNIE: He’s not a writer. He’s a convict. You’re a writer. You write because you’re a writer. Even you write about something, you have to think up something to write about just so you can keep writing. More well chosen words nicely put together. So what? Why should that be it? Who says?

HENRY: Nobody says. It just works best.

ANNIE: Of course it works. You teach a lot of people what to expect from good writing, and you end up with a lot of people saying you write well. Then somebody who isn’t in on the game comes along, like Brodie, who really has something to write about, something real, and you can’t get through it. Well, he couldn’t get through yours, so where are you? To you, he can’t write. To him, write is all you can do.

HENRY: Jesus, Annie, you’re beginning to appall me. There’s something scary about stupidity made coherent. I can deal with idiots, and I can deal with sensible argument, but I don’t know how to deal with you. Where’s my cricket bat?

ANNIE: Your cricket bat?

HENRY: Yes. It’s a new approach. [He heads out into the hall.]

ANNIE: Are you trying to be funny?

HENRY: No, I’m serious. [He goes out while she watches in wary disbelief. He returns with an old cricket bat.]

ANNIE: You better not be.

HENRY: Right, you silly cow —

ANNIE: Don’t you bloody dare —

HENRY: Shut up and listen. This thing here, which looks like a wooden club, is actually several pieces of particular wood cunningly put together in a certain way so that the whole thing is sprung, like a dance floor. It’s for hitting cricket balls with. If you get it right, the cricket ball will travel two hundred yards in four seconds, and all you’ve done is give it a knock like knocking the top off a bottle of stout, and it makes a noise like a trout taking a fly… [He clucks his tongue to make the noise.] What we’re trying to do is to write cricket bats, so that when we throw up an idea and give it a little knock, it might … travel … [He clucks his tongue again and picks up the script.] Now, what we’ve got here is a lump of wood of roughly the same shape trying to be a cricket bat, and if you hit a ball with it, the ball will travel about ten feet and you will drop the bat and dance about shouting Ouch! with your hands stuck into your armpits. This isn’t better because someone says it’s better, or because there’s a conspiracy by the MCC to keep cudgels out of Lords. It’s better because it’s better. You don’t believe me, so I suggest you go out to bat with this and see how you get on. [quoting from the play] You’re a strange boy, Billy, how old are you? Twenty, but I’ve lived more than you’ll ever live. Ooh, ouch! [He drops the script and hops about with his hands in his armpits, going Ouch! ANNIE watches him expressionlessly until he desists.]

[a few exchanges later]

HENRY: ……I can’t help somebody who thinks, or thinks he thinks, that editing a newspaper is censorship, or that throwing bricks is a demonstration while building tower blocks is social violence, or that unpalatable statement is provocation while disrupting the speaker is the exercise of free speech… Words don’t deserve that kind of malarkey. They’re innocent, neutral, precise, standing for this, describing that, meaning the other, so if you look after them you can build bridges across incomprehension and chaos. But when they get their corners knocked off, they’re no good any more, and Brodie knocks corners off without knowing he’s doing it. So everything he writes is jerry-built. It’s rubbish. An intelligent child could push it over. I don’t think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you’re dead.

1 May 2010 | 22:57 | No Comments

John W Gardner

An excellent plumber is infinitely more admirable than an incompetent philosopher. The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.

28 April 2010 | 18:10 | 1 Comment

Wallace Stevens

Rationalists, wearing square hats,
Think, in square rooms,
Looking at the floor,
Looking at the ceiling.
They confine themselves
To right-angled triangles.
If they tried rhomboids,
Cones, waving lines, ellipses —
As, for example, the ellipse of the half-moon —
Rationalists would wear sombreros.

26 April 2010 | 6:15 | No Comments

Max Lerner

I am neither an optimist nor pessimist, but a possibilist.

25 April 2010 | 19:48 | No Comments

Ralph Waldo Emerson

To live without duties is obscene.

24 April 2010 | 21:30 | No Comments

Sir Frederick Hoyle

Space isn’t remote at all. It’s only an hour’s drive away if your car could go straight upwards.

21 April 2010 | 11:48 | No Comments

Ernest C. Cowper

of Elbert Hubbard who died in the sinking of the Lusitania.

I can not say specifically where your father and Mrs. Hubbard were when the torpedoes hit, but I can tell you just what happened after that. They emerged from their room, which was on the port side of the vessel, and came on to the boat-deck.

Neither appeared perturbed in the least. Your father and Mrs. Hubbard linked arms — the fashion in which they always walked the deck — and stood apparently wondering what to do. I passed him with a baby which I was taking to a lifeboat when he said, “Well, Jack, they have got us. They are a damn sight worse than I ever thought they were.”

They did not move very far away from where they originally stood. As I moved to the other side of the ship, in preparation for a jump when the right moment came, I called to him, “What are you going to do?” and he just shook his head, while Mrs. Hubbard smiled and said, “There does not seem to be anything to do.”

The expression seemed to produce action on the part of your father, for then he did one of the most dramatic things I ever saw done. He simply turned with Mrs. Hubbard and entered a room on the top deck, the door of which was open, and closed it behind him.
It was apparent that his idea was that they should die together, and not risk being parted on going into the water.

20 April 2010 | 20:47 | No Comments

Albert Camus

There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.

20 April 2010 | 6:52 | No Comments


The fly sat upon the axel-tree of the chariot-wheel and said, What a dust do I raise!

18 April 2010 | 20:00 | No Comments

James Carville

Election Haiku

Change vs. more of the same
The economy, stupid
Don’t forget health care.

10 April 2010 | 23:20 | No Comments

Joan Robinson

The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.

9 April 2010 | 21:29 | No Comments

George Eliot

An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.

7 April 2010 | 12:03 | No Comments

Genghis Khan

Conquering the world on horseback is easy; it is dismounting and governing that is hard.

5 April 2010 | 22:12 | No Comments

Boris Yeltsin

John Major: “What is the situation like in Russia”

Boris Yeltsin: “Good”

John Major: “Could you expand on that”

Boris Yeltsin: “Not Good”

3 April 2010 | 16:43 | No Comments

John Maynard Keynes

Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slave of some defunct economist.

2 April 2010 | 17:36 | No Comments

Linus Pauling

I have something that I call my Golden Rule. It goes something like this: ‘Do unto others twenty-five percent better than you expect them to do unto you.’ ….. The twenty-five percent is for error.

27 March 2010 | 23:00 | No Comments

A A Milne


She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
“Winter is dead.”

21 March 2010 | 8:41 | No Comments

Elbert Hubbard

Literature is the noblest of all the arts. Music dies on the air, or at best exists only as a memory; oratory ceases with the effort; the painter’s colors fade and the canvas rots; the marble is dragged from its pedestal and is broken into fragments.

20 March 2010 | 14:03 | No Comments

Samuel Butler

There are more fools than knaves in the world, else the knaves would not have enough to live upon.

13 March 2010 | 18:47 | No Comments

Arthur Stanley Eddington

Shuffling is the only thing which Nature cannot undo.

27 February 2010 | 23:01 | No Comments

Willard van Orman Quine

Nonbeing must in some sense be, otherwise what is it that there is not? This tangled doctrine might be nicknamed Plato’s beard; historically it has proved tough, frequently dulling the edge of Occam’s razor.

26 February 2010 | 20:40 | No Comments

William Pitt the Younger

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.

23 February 2010 | 22:20 | No Comments

Gottfried Leibniz

But when a rule is extremely complex, that which conforms to it passes for random.

22 February 2010 | 22:10 | No Comments

Wolcott Gibbs

Backward ran sentences until reeled the mind… Where it all will end, knows God!

20 February 2010 | 11:46 | No Comments

Stanislaw Ulam

The mathematicians know a great deal about very little and the physicists very little about a great deal.

14 February 2010 | 22:39 | No Comments

Bill Nye

Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.

7 February 2010 | 14:39 | No Comments

J B S Haldane

It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.

6 February 2010 | 7:31 | No Comments

H L Mencken

Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice.

5 February 2010 | 22:53 | No Comments

Thomas Merton

The biggest human temptation is … to settle for too little.

4 February 2010 | 23:18 | No Comments

Brian O’Nolan

“You told me what the first rule of wisdom is,” I said. “What is the second rule?”
“That can be answered,” he said. “There are five in all. Always ask any questions that are to be asked and never answer any. Turn everything you hear to your own advantage. Always carry a repair outfit. Take left turns as much as possible. Never apply your front brake first…If you follow them,” said the Sergeant, “you will save your soul and you will never get a fall on a slippy road.”

30 January 2010 | 17:39 | No Comments

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Every man has some reminiscences which he would not tell to everyone, but only to his friends. He has others which he would not reveal even to his friends, but only to himself, and that in secret. But finally there are still others which a man is even afraid to tell himself, and every decent man has a considerable number of such things stored away. That is, one can even say that the more decent he is, the greater the number of such things in his mind.

24 January 2010 | 20:01 | No Comments

Wendy Cope

The Widow

I like this piece. I think you’d like it too.
We didn’t very often disagree
Back in the days when I sat here with you
And knew that you were coming home with me.
This is the future. It arrived so fast.
When we were young it seemed so far away.
Our years together vanished like a day
At nightfall, sealed for ever in the past.
I can’t give up on music, just discard
The interest we shared because you died.
And so I come to concerts. But it’s hard.
Tonight I’m doing well. I haven’t cried.
My head aches. There’s a tightness in my throat.
And you will never hear another note.

23 January 2010 | 21:27 | 1 Comment

Lord Byron

To my extreme mortification, I grow wiser every day.

20 January 2010 | 20:56 | No Comments

Alexander Pope

To be angry, is to revenge the fault of others upon ourselves.

17 January 2010 | 23:52 | No Comments

Thomas Traherne

As nothing is more easy than to think, so nothing is more difficult than to think well.

12 January 2010 | 22:30 | No Comments

Alexander Pope

A little Learning is a dang’rous Thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring:
There shallow Draughts intoxicate the Brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
Fir’d at first Sight with what the Muse imparts,
In fearless Youth we tempt the Heights of Arts,
While from the bounded Level of our Mind,
Short Views we take, nor see the lengths behind,
But more advanc’d, behold with strange Surprize
New, distant Scenes of endless Science rise!
So pleas’d at first, the towring Alps we try,
Mount o’er the Vales, and seem to tread the Sky;
Th’ Eternal Snows appear already past,
And the first Clouds and Mountains seem the last:
But those attain’d, we tremble to survey
The growing Labours of the lengthen’d Way,
Th’ increasing Prospect tires our wandering Eyes,
Hills peep o’er Hills, and Alps on Alps arise!

11 January 2010 | 10:18 | No Comments

E B White

A poet dares be just so clear and no clearer… He unzips the veil from beauty, but does not remove it. A poet utterly clear is a trifle glaring.

10 January 2010 | 15:07 | No Comments

Mark Twain (well possibly)

History does not repeat itself – but it rhymes.

9 January 2010 | 14:51 | No Comments

Ernest Hemingway

That is what we are supposed to do when we are at our best — make it all up — but make it up so truly that later it will happen that way.

2 January 2010 | 8:22 | No Comments

Robert A Heinlein

Take sides! Always take sides! You will sometimes be wrong — but the man who refuses to take sides must always be wrong.

1 January 2010 | 14:00 | No Comments

Wendy Cope

Cathedral Carol Service

Those of us who are not important enough
To have places reserved for us
And who turned up too late to get a seat at all,
Stand in the nave aisles, or perch on stone ledges.

We shiver in the draught from the west door.
We cannot see the choir, the altar or the candles.
We can barely see the words on our service sheets.

But we can hear the music. And we can sing
For the baby whose parents were not important enough
To have a place reserved for them,
And who turned up too late to get a room at all.

26 December 2009 | 10:46 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

A Christmas Carol

The Christ-child lay on Mary’s lap,
His hair was like a light.
(O weary, weary were the world,
But here is all aright.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary’s breast
His hair was like a star.
(O stern and cunning are the kings,
But here the true hearts are.)

The Christ-child lay on Mary’s heart,
His hair was like a fire.
(O weary, weary is the world,
But here the world’s desire.)

The Christ-child stood on Mary’s knee,
His hair was like a crown,
And all the flowers looked up at Him,
And all the stars looked down

25 December 2009 | 10:17 | No Comments

Charles Dickens

I’Yo Ho! my boys,” said Fezziwig. “No more work to-night! Christmas Eve, Dick! Christmas, Ebenezer! Let’s have the shutters up!” cried old Fezziwig with a sharp clap of his hands, “before a man can say Jack
Robinson. . . .”

“Hilli-ho!” cried old Fezziwig, skipping down from the high desk with wonderful agility. “Clear away, my lads, and let’s have lots of room here! Hilli-ho, Dick! Cheer-up, Ebenezer!”

Clear away! There was nothing they wouldn’t have cleared away, or couldn’t have cleared away with old Fezziwig looking on. It was done in a minute. Every movable was packed off, as if it were dismissed from public life forevermore; the floor was swept and watered, the lamps were trimmed, fuel was heaped upon the fire; and the warehouse was as snug, and warm, and dry, and bright a ballroom as you would desire to
see on a winter’s night.

In came a fiddler with a music book, and went up to the lofty desk and made an orchestra of it and tuned like fifty stomach aches. In came Mrs. Fezziwig, one vast substantial smile. In came the three Misses Fezziwig, beaming and lovable. In came the six followers whose hearts they broke. In came all the young men and women employed in the business. In came the housemaid with her cousin the baker. In came the cook with her brother’s particular friend the milkman. In came the boy from over the way, who was suspected of not having board enough from his master, trying to hide himself behind the girl from next door but one who was proved to have had her ears pulled by her mistress; in they all came, any-how and every-how. Away they all went, twenty couple at once; hands half round and back again the other way; down the middle and up again; round and round in various stages of affectionate grouping, old top couple always turning up in the wrong place; new top couple starting off again, as soon as they got there; all top couples at last, and not a bottom one to help them.

When this result was brought about the fiddler struck up “Sir Roger de Coverley.” Then old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezziwig. Top couple, too, with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them; three or four and twenty pairs of partners; people who were not to be trifled with; people who would dance and had no notion of walking.

But if they had been thrice as many, oh, four times as many, old Fezziwig would have been a match for them, and so would Mrs. Fezziwig. As to her, she was worthy to be his partner in every sense of the term. If that’s not high praise, tell me higher and I’ll use it. A positive light appeared to issue from Fezziwig’s calves. They shone in every part of the dance like moons. You couldn’t have predicted at any given time what would become of them next. And when old Fezziwig and Mrs. Fezziwig had gone all through the dance, advance and retire; both hands to your partner, bow and courtesy, corkscrew, thread the needle, and back again to your place; Fezziwig cut so deftly that he appeared to wink with his legs, and came upon his feet again with a stagger.

When the clock struck eleven the domestic ball broke up. Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig took their stations, one on either side of the door, and shaking hands with every person individually, as he or she went out, wished him or her a Merry Christmas!.

24 December 2009 | 19:08 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

Many clever men like you have trusted to civilization. Many clever Babylonians, many clever Egyptians, many clever men at the end of Rome. Can you tell me, in a world that is flagrant with the failures of civilisation, what there is particularly immortal about yours?

23 December 2009 | 14:45 | No Comments

I saw…

I Saw a Peacock, with a fiery tail,
I saw a Blazing Comet, drop down hail,
I saw a Cloud, with Ivy circled round,
I saw a sturdy Oak, creep on the ground,
I saw a Pismire, swallow up a Whale,
I saw a raging Sea, brim full of Ale,
I saw a Venice Glass, Sixteen foot deep,
I saw a well, full of mens tears that weep,
I saw their eyes, all in a flame of fire,
I saw a House, as big as the Moon and higher,
I saw the Sun, even in the midst of night,
I saw the man, that saw this wondrous sight.

19 December 2009 | 15:30 | No Comments

Jean Guitton

Originality exists in every individual becasue each of us differs from the others. We are all primary numbers divisible only by ourselves.

18 December 2009 | 21:38 | No Comments

J K Galbraith

All successful revolutions are the kicking in of a rotten door.

17 December 2009 | 23:03 | No Comments

Wolfgang Pauli

I don’t mind your thinking slowly; I mind your publishing faster than you think.

15 December 2009 | 7:17 | No Comments

Edward Ruscha

Bad art is ‘Wow! Huh?’ Good art is ‘Huh? Wow!

12 December 2009 | 13:54 | No Comments

John Milton

On His Blindness

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

8 December 2009 | 18:32 | No Comments

Cyril Connolly

The books I haven’t written are better than the books other people have.

6 December 2009 | 13:19 | No Comments

Benjamin Franklin

What’s a sundial in the shade?

5 December 2009 | 20:41 | No Comments

James Bovard

Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

27 November 2009 | 17:35 | No Comments

David Brooks

Friends are a group of people who share a mutual inability to take each other seriously.

22 November 2009 | 21:08 | No Comments

Worst Enemny

Said of Herbert Morrison: “…he is his own worst enemy” to which Ernest Bevin immediately interjected “Not while I’m alive, he ain’t.”

16 November 2009 | 13:50 | No Comments

Steven King

A secret needs two faces to bounce between; a secret needs to see itself in another pair of eyes.

14 November 2009 | 11:19 | No Comments

John McCrae

In Flanders Field

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

8 November 2009 | 12:15 | No Comments

Theodore Zeldin

The kind of conversation I like is one in which you are prepared to emerge a slightly different person.

6 November 2009 | 7:07 | No Comments

Piet Hein

Timing Toast

Grook on how to char for yourself

There’s an art of knowing when,
Never try to guess
Toast until it smokes and then
twenty seconds less.

3 November 2009 | 17:08 | No Comments

Lord Byron

The Destruction of Sennacherib

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.
Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.
For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!
And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.
And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.
And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!

1 November 2009 | 8:19 | No Comments

Charles Baudelaire

The study of beauty is a duel in which the artist cries out in terror before being defeated.

30 October 2009 | 8:54 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

Materialists and madmen never have doubts.

26 October 2009 | 7:50 | No Comments

Richard Cecil

Duties are ours; events are God’s. This removes an infinite burden from the shoulders of a miserable, tempted, dying creature. On this consideration only, can he securely lay down his head, and close his eyes.

25 October 2009 | 22:00 | No Comments

T E Hulme


A touch of cold in the Autumn night —

I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to speak, but nodded,
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.

24 October 2009 | 7:14 | No Comments

Buckminster Fuller

You can’t change anything by fighting or resisting it. You change something by making it obsolete through superior methods.

23 October 2009 | 23:25 | No Comments

Richard Feynman

Philosophy of science is about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds.

21 October 2009 | 21:32 | No Comments

Carl Sagan

Dreams are maps

20 October 2009 | 22:01 | No Comments

Anatole Broyard

A good book is never exhausted. It goes on whispering to you from the wall.

19 October 2009 | 21:13 | No Comments

Frank Lloyd Wright

The scientist has marched in and taken the place of the poet. But one day somebody will find the solution to the problems of the world and remember, it will be a poet, not a scientist.

18 October 2009 | 22:04 | No Comments

Jules Henri Poincaré

Mathematics is the art of giving the same name to different things.

17 October 2009 | 8:05 | No Comments

Maggie Kuhn

Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind — even if your voice shakes.

16 October 2009 | 23:32 | No Comments

Eugene Wilson

Only the curious will learn and only the resolute overcome the obstacles to learning. The Quest Quotient has always interested me more than the Intelligence Quotient.

12 October 2009 | 20:45 | No Comments

Robert Southey

The Old Man’s Comforts

and how he gained them

You are old, Father William the young man cried,
The few locks which are left you are grey;
You are hale, Father William, a hearty old man,
Now tell me the reason, I pray.

In the days of my youth, Father William replied,
I remember’d that youth would fly fast,
And abused not my health and my vigour at first,
That I never might need them at last.

You are old, Father William, the young man cried,
And pleasures with youth pass away;
And yet you lament not the days that are gone,
Now tell me the reason, I pray.

In the days of my youth, Father William replied,
I remember’d that youth could not last;
I thought of the future, whatever I did,
That I never might grieve for the past.

You are old, Father William, the young man cried,
And life must be hastening away;
You are cheerful, and love to converse upon death,
Now tell me the reason, I pray.

I am cheerful, young man, Father William replied,
Let the cause thy attention engage;
In the days of my youth I remember’d my God!
And He hath not forgotten my age.

9 October 2009 | 21:00 | 1 Comment

Ernst Mach

Explanation is nothing but condensed descriptions.

8 October 2009 | 20:41 | No Comments

Michael Torke

Why waste money on psychotherapy when you can listen to the B Minor Mass?

4 October 2009 | 20:44 | No Comments

William Shakespeare

Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands:
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.

3 October 2009 | 14:29 | No Comments

Virginia Graham


No faith in the hour of betrayal
No scorning of lions’ jaws,
No heart of grace in the battle-field,
No faith in a faithless cause,
No hope in the days of bondage
Has ever more valiant shone
Than the hope that hopes for a taxi,
When the last bus has gone.

30 September 2009 | 6:51 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable.

29 September 2009 | 22:16 | No Comments

Randy Alcorn

You are the descendant of a tiny cell of primordial protoplasm washed up on an empty beach three and a half billion years ago. You are the blind and arbitrary product of time, chance, and natural forces. You are a mere grab-bag of atomic particles, a conglomeration of genetic substance. You exist on a tiny planet in a minute solar system in an empty corner of a universe. You are a purely biological entity, different only in degree but not in kind from a microbe, virus, or amoeba. You have no essence beyond your body, and at death you will cease to exist entirely. In short you come from nothing and are going to nowhere.

You are the special creation of a good and all-powerful God. You are created in His image; with capacities to think, feel, and worship that set you above all other life forms. You differ from the animals not simply in degree but in kind. Not only is your kind unique, but you are unique among you kind. Your Creator loves you so much and so intensely desires you companionship and affection that he has a perfect plan for you life. In addition God gave the life of His only son that you might spend eternity with Him. If you are willing to accept his gift of salvation, you can become a child of God.

27 September 2009 | 20:42 | No Comments

Richard Craycroft

The main problem with punctuality is that there is rarely anyone there to appreciate it.

26 September 2009 | 21:33 | No Comments

John Keats

Give me books, fruit, French wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors, played by someone I do not know.

24 September 2009 | 21:49 | No Comments


In a great business there is nothing so fatal as cunning management.

23 September 2009 | 21:09 | No Comments

Max Beerbohm

You cannot make a man by standing a sheep on its hind legs. But by standing a flock of sheep in that position you can make a crowd of men.

22 September 2009 | 21:09 | No Comments

Albert Einstein

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.

18 September 2009 | 18:23 | No Comments

Siegbert Tarrasch

The beauty of a move lies not in its’ appearance but in the thought behind it.

17 September 2009 | 18:28 | No Comments

Thomas Traherne

Be not a bubble, be solid like God and let all thy worth be within.

6 September 2009 | 13:51 | No Comments

Douglas Adams

Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

3 September 2009 | 7:50 | No Comments

Tom Stoppard

We shed as we pick up, like travellers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind. The procession is very long and life is very short. We die on the march. But there is nothing outside the march so nothing can be lost to it. The missing plays of Sophocles will turn up piece by piece, or be written again in another language. Ancient cures for diseases will reveal themselves once more. Mathematical discoveries glimpsed and lost to view will have their time again. You do not suppose, my lady, that if all of Archimedes had been hiding in the great library of Alexandria, we would be at a loss for a corkscrew?

1 September 2009 | 22:39 | No Comments

Salman Rushdie

Most of what matters in your life takes place in your absence.

30 August 2009 | 20:24 | No Comments

Jorge Luis Borges


If I could live again my life,
In the next – I’ll try,
– to make more mistakes,
I won’t try to be so perfect,
I’ll be more relaxed,
I’ll be more full – than I am now,
In fact, I’ll take fewer things seriously,
I’ll be less hygenic,
I’ll take more risks,
I’ll take more trips,
I’ll watch more sunsets,
I’ll climb more mountains,
I’ll swim more rivers,
I’ll go to more places – I’ve never been,
I’ll eat more ice creams and less (lime) beans,
I’ll have more real problems – and less imaginary
I was one of those people who live
prudent and prolific lives –
each minute of his life,
Offcourse that I had moments of joy – but,
if I could go back I’ll try to have only good moments,

If you don’t know – thats what life is made of,
Don’t lose the now!

I was one of those who never goes anywhere
without a thermometer,
without a hot-water bottle,
and without an umberella and without a parachute,

If I could live again – I will travel light,
If I could live again – I’ll try to work bare feet
at the beginning of spring till
the end of autumn,
I’ll ride more carts,
I’ll watch more sunrises and play with more children,
If I have the life to live – but now I am 85,
– and I know that I am dying …

22 August 2009 | 19:47 | 1 Comment

Laurence J Peter

The habitually punctual make all their mistakes right on time.

21 August 2009 | 20:59 | No Comments

Thomas Merton

The biggest human temptation … is to settle for too little.

20 August 2009 | 22:11 | No Comments

Richard Francis Burton

The dearest ambition of a slave is not liberty but to have a slave of his own.

18 August 2009 | 21:09 | No Comments


What did you bring that book that I don’t want to be read to out of about Down Under up for.

16 August 2009 | 9:38 | No Comments

E E Cummings

I begin […] with an almost inconceivable assertion: I was born at home.

For the benefit of those of you who can’t imagine what the word “home” implies, or what a home could possibly have been like, I should explain that the idea of home is the idea of privacy. But again–what is privacy? You probably never heard of it. Even supposing that (from time to time) walls exist around you, those walls are no longer walls; they are merest pseudosolidities, perpetually penetrated by the perfectly predatory collective organs of sight and sound. Any apparent somewhere which you may inhabit is always at the mercy of a ruthless and omnivorous everywhere. The notion of a house, as one single definite particular and unique place to come into, from the anywhereish and everywhereish world outside–that notion must strike you as fantastic. You have been brought up to believe that a house, or a universe, or a you, or any other object, is only seemingly solid: really (and you are realists, whom nobody and nothing can deceive) each seeming solidity is a collection of large holes–and, in the case of a house, the larger the holes the better; since the principal function of a modern house is to admit whatever might otherwise remain outside. You haven’t the least or feeblest conception of being here, and now, and alone, and yourself. Why (you ask) should anyone want to be here, when (simply by pressing a button) anyone can be in fifty places at once? How could anyone want to be now, when anyone can go whening all over creation at the twist of a knob? What could induce anyone to desire aloneness, when billions of soi-disant dollars are mercifully squandered by a good and great government lest anyone anuywhere should ever for a single instant be alone? As for being yourself–why on earth should you be yourself; when instead of being yourself you can be a hundred, or a thousand, or a hundred thousand thousand, other people? The very thought of being oneself in an epoch or interchangeable selves must appear supremely ridiculous.

15 August 2009 | 7:00 | 1 Comment

George Macdonald

A condition which of declension would indicate a devil, may of growth indicate a saint.

14 August 2009 | 21:58 | No Comments

Thomas Taylor

Too many young people itch for what they want without scratching for it.

9 August 2009 | 20:50 | No Comments

A P Herbert

A man who has made up his mind on a given subject twenty-five years ago and continues to hold his political opinions after he has been proved to be wrong is a man of principle; while he who from time to time adapts his opinions to the changing circumstances of life is an opportunist.

7 August 2009 | 20:22 | No Comments

Rabbi Zusya

In the world to come, I shall not be asked, “Why were you not Moses?” I shall be asked, “Why were you not Zusya?”

6 August 2009 | 21:20 | No Comments

Samuel Johnson

Sir, I am a better judge of mutton than any sheep.

31 July 2009 | 21:48 | No Comments

Carol Ann Duffy

Last Post

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If poetry could tell it backwards, true, begin
that moment shrapnel scythed you to the stinking mud…
but you get up, amazed, watch bled bad blood
run upwards from the slime into its wounds;
see lines and lines of British boys rewind
back to their trenches, kiss the photographs from home-
mothers, sweethearts, sisters, younger brothers
not entering the story now
to die and die and die.
Dulce- No- Decorum- No- Pro patria mori.
You walk away.

You walk away; drop your gun (fixed bayonet)
like all your mates do too-
Harry, Tommy, Wilfred, Edward, Bert-
and light a cigarette.
There’s coffee in the square,
warm French bread
and all those thousands dead
are shaking dried mud from their hair
and queuing up for home. Freshly alive,
a lad plays Tipperary to the crowd, released
from History; the glistening, healthy horses fit for heroes, kings.

You lean against a wall,
your several million lives still possible
and crammed with love, work, children, talent, English beer, good food.
You see the poet tuck away his pocket-book and smile.
If poetry could truly write it backwards,
then it would.

30 July 2009 | 6:54 | 1 Comment

Vladimir Horowitz

I am famous, but I am not well known.

29 July 2009 | 19:54 | No Comments

Will Cuppy

Aristotle taught that the brain exists merely to cool the blood and is not involved in the process of thinking. This is true only of certain persons.

27 July 2009 | 21:52 | No Comments

Adam Lindsay Gordon

Life is mostly froth and bubble;
Two things stand like stone:
Kindness in another’s trouble,
Courage in our own.

25 July 2009 | 21:09 | No Comments

Benjamin Jowett

Don’t expect too much and don’t attempt too little.

22 July 2009 | 18:41 | No Comments

Inscription found in a fragment of the Great Wall of China

1) The Three Good Things
a) Certainty held in Reserve.
b) Unexpected Praise from and Artist.
c) Discovery of Nobility in Oneself.

2) The Three Bad Things
a) Unworthiness crowned.
b) Unconscious Infraction of the the Laws of Behaviour.
c) Friendly Condescension of the Imperfectly Educated.

3) The Three Things of both Good and Bad Effect
a) Triumphant Anger.
b) Banquets of the Rich.
c) Honour preserved.

20 July 2009 | 22:13 | No Comments

C S Lewis

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is not part of the Christian faith.

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak.

We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

19 July 2009 | 14:08 | No Comments

W H Auden

The poet who writes “free” verse is like Robinson Crusoe on his desert island: he must do all his cooking, laundry and darning for himself. In a few exceptional cases, this manly independence produces something original and impressive, but more often the result is squalor – dirty sheets on the unmade bed and empty bottles on the unswept floor.

18 July 2009 | 20:49 | No Comments

Raymond Duncan

The best substitute for experience is being sixteen.

16 July 2009 | 22:07 | No Comments

Ambrose Bierce

In each human heart are a tiger, a pig, an ass and a nightingale. Diversity of character is due to their unequal activity.

14 July 2009 | 16:15 | No Comments

Anthony Trollope

A small task, if it be really daily, will beat the labors of a spasmodic Hercules.

13 July 2009 | 17:14 | No Comments

Clive James

When we were kids we fought in the mock battle
With Ned Kelly cap guns and we opened the cold bottle
Of Shelley’s lemonade with a Scout belt buckle.
We cracked the passion fruit and sipped the honeysuckle.

When we were kids we lit the Thundercracker
Under the fruit tin and we sucked the all day sucker.
We opened the shoe box to watch the silk-worms spinning
Cocoons of cirrus with oriental cunning.

When we were kids we were sun-burned to a frazzle.
The beach was a griddle, you could hear us spit and sizzle.
We slept face down when our backs came out in blisters.
Teachers were famous for throwing blackboard dusters.

When we were kids we dive-bombed from the tower.
We floated in the inner tube, we bowled the rubber tyre.
From torn balloons we blew the cherry bubble.
Blowing up Frenchies could get you into trouble.

When we were kids we played at cock-a-lorum.
Gutter to gutter the boys ran harum-scarum.
The girls ran slower and their arms and legs looked funny.
You weren’t supposed to drink your school milk in the dunny.

When we were kids the licorice came in cables.
We traded Hubba-Hubba bubblegum for marbles.
A new connie-agate was a flower trapped in crystal
Worth just one go with a genuine air pistol.

When we were kids we threw the cigarette cards
Against the wall and we lined the Grenadier Guards
Up on the carpet and you couldn’t touch the trifle
Your Aunt Marge made to go in the church raffle.

When we were kids we hunted the cicada.
The pet cockatoo bit like a barracuda.
We were secret agents and fluent in pig Latin.
Gutsing on mulberries made our lips shine like black satin.

When we were kids we caught the Christmas beetle.
Its brittle wings were gold-green like the wattle.
Our mothers made bouquets from frangipani.
Hard to pronounce, a pink musk-stick cost a penny.

When we were kids we climbed peppercorns and willows.
We startled the stingrays when we waded in the shallows.
We mined the sand dunes in search of buried treasure,
And all this news pleased our parents beyond measure.

When we were kids the pus would wet the needle
When you dug out splinters and a piss was called a piddle.
The scabs on your knees would itch when they were ready
To be picked off your self-renewing body.

When we were kids a year would last forever.
Then we grew up and were told it was all over.
Now we are old and the memories returning
Are like the last stars that fade before the morning.

12 July 2009 | 20:20 | No Comments

Arthur Rubinstein

Person in a street near near Carnegie Hall: “Pardon me sir, how do I get to Carnegie Hall?”

Arthur Rubinstein: “Practice, practice, practice.”

11 July 2009 | 20:27 | No Comments

E H Gombrich

Anyone who can handle a needle convincingly can make us see a thread which is not there.

10 July 2009 | 21:55 | No Comments

Jacques Derrida

To pretend, I actually do the thing: I have therefore only pretended to pretend.

6 July 2009 | 20:56 | 1 Comment

Alexander Pope

I believe no one qualification is so likely to make a good writer, as the power of rejecting his own thoughts.

5 July 2009 | 10:15 | No Comments

Johann von Neumann

In mathematics you don’t understand things. You just get used to them.

4 July 2009 | 7:17 | No Comments

Laurence J. Peter

Hot dogs: feeding the hand that bites it.

29 June 2009 | 22:03 | No Comments

Abraham Lincoln

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.

28 June 2009 | 21:06 | No Comments

Charles II

I’m definitely the best king in England at the moment.

26 June 2009 | 21:27 | No Comments

Freeman Dyson

The more I examine the universe and the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming.

25 June 2009 | 18:16 | No Comments

H L Mencken

Man weeps to think that he will die so soon; woman, that she was born so long ago.

24 June 2009 | 16:30 | No Comments

Richard Clopton

Clopton’s Law: For every credibility gab, there is a gullibility fill.

22 June 2009 | 21:33 | No Comments

Ammon Hennacy

Being a pacifist between wars is as easy as being a vegetarian between meals.

21 June 2009 | 13:14 | No Comments

Horace Mann

A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering cold iron.

20 June 2009 | 21:07 | No Comments

Otto von Bismarck

He who is not a socialist at 19, has no heart. He who is still a socialist at 30, has no brain.

17 June 2009 | 21:12 | 1 Comment

Edgar Allan Poe

A Dream

In visions of the dark night
I have dreamed of joy departed-
But a waking dream of life and light
Hath left me broken-hearted.

Ah! what is not a dream by day
To him whose eyes are cast
On things around him with a ray
Turned back upon the past?

That holy dream- that holy dream,
While all the world were chiding,
Hath cheered me as a lovely beam
A lonely spirit guiding.

What though that light, thro’ storm and night,
So trembled from afar-
What could there be more purely bright
In Truth’s day-star?

15 June 2009 | 20:50 | No Comments

R M Rilke

He was a poet and hated the approximate.

9 June 2009 | 21:15 | No Comments

P G Wodehouse

He trusted neither of them as far as he could spit, and he was a poor spitter, lacking both distance and control.

7 June 2009 | 20:10 | No Comments

Peter Lynch

The person that turns over the most rocks wins the game.

5 June 2009 | 20:48 | No Comments

Cecil Baxter

You don’t get anything clean without getting something else dirty.

4 June 2009 | 18:57 | No Comments

Marie Curie

One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.

1 June 2009 | 21:05 | No Comments

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

What is an epigram? A dwarfish whole, its body brevity, and wit its soul.

29 May 2009 | 21:45 | No Comments

Sir John Harington

That we may truly say this spoild the state.
Youthful counsel!, private gaine, partiail hate.

27 May 2009 | 20:57 | No Comments

Henry Ward Beecher

The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.

25 May 2009 | 22:38 | No Comments

Benjamin Peirce

Mathematics is the science which draws necessary conclusions.

23 May 2009 | 22:45 | No Comments

Herman Melville

There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method.

21 May 2009 | 21:24 | No Comments

Edward Thomas

The Cherry Trees

The cherry trees bend over and are shedding,
On the old road where all that passed are dead,
Their petals, strewing the grass as for a wedding
This early May morn when there is none to wed.

19 May 2009 | 7:27 | No Comments


Not curiosity, not vanity, not the consideration of expediency, not duty and conscientiousness, but an unquenchable, unhappy thirst that brooks no compromise leads us to truth.

18 May 2009 | 6:55 | No Comments

A E Houseman

Even when poetry has a meaning, as it usually has, it may be inadvisable to draw it out … and perfect understanding will sometimes almost extinguish pleasure.

17 May 2009 | 6:10 | No Comments

Oliver Cromwell

It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves gone!
So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!

16 May 2009 | 22:27 | No Comments

Ian Fleming

Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.

11 May 2009 | 22:43 | No Comments

H L Mencken

The natural tendency of every government is to grow steadily worse – that is, to grow more satisfactory to those who constitute it and less satisfactory to those who support it.

10 May 2009 | 11:50 | No Comments

Alexander Pope

To be angry, is to revenge the fault of others upon ourselves.

9 May 2009 | 20:59 | No Comments

A A Milne

My spelling is Wobbly. It’s good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.

8 May 2009 | 21:00 | No Comments

H L Mencken

Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.

4 May 2009 | 15:26 | No Comments

Brian Patten

One thing about poetry’s eternally true:
The best reminds us of what we forgot we knew.

3 May 2009 | 21:50 | No Comments

Anneliese Emmans Dean

On The Role Of The Next Century’s Poet Laureate

Opium of the masses
Feed their habit
Feed their habit
For the working classes
Let ’em have it
Let ’em have it
Raise your champagne glasses
Chitter chat it
Chitter chat it
For the lads and lasses
Twitter chav it
Twitter chav it
With OAP bus passes
Zimmer jab it
Zimmer jab it
Opium of the masses
Live it, gab it
Give it, fab it
Pitter-pat it
Tit-for-tat it
Skit it, scat it
Brit it, bat it!

2 May 2009 | 6:23 | No Comments

Anneliese Emmans Dean

on the appointment of Carol Ann Duffy as Poet Laureate

Where there is discord, may you bring euphony
Where there is error, may you bring scansion
Where there is doubt, may you bring rhyme
And where there are royal weddings
May you bring sonnets of sterling sincerity
(Or, failing that, limericks.)

1 May 2009 | 17:14 | No Comments

Hilaire Belloc

The Tiger

The tiger, on the other hand,
Is kittenish and mild,
And makes a pretty playfellow
For any little child.
And mothers of large families
(Who claim to common sense)
Will find a tiger well repays
The trouble and expense.

30 April 2009 | 20:52 | No Comments

Lewis Mumford

I’m a pessimist about probabilities; I’m an optimist about possibilities.

29 April 2009 | 20:48 | No Comments

Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius

Mutability is our tragedy, but it’s also our hope.

28 April 2009 | 23:21 | No Comments

Steven Heighton

Some other Just Ones

a footnote to Borges

The printer who sets this page with skill, though he may not admire it.

Singers of solo expertise who defer and find harmonies instead.

Anyone whose skeleton is susceptible to music.

She who, having loved a book or record, instantly passes it on.

Whose heart lilts at a span of vacant highway, the fervent surge of acceleration, psalm of the tires.

Adults content to let children bury them in sand or leaves.

Those for whom sustaining hatred is a difficulty.

Surprised by tenderness on meeting, at a reunion, the persecutors of their youth.

Likely to forget debts owed them but never a debt they owe.

Apt to read Plutarch or Thich Naht Hahn with the urgency of one reading the morning news.

Frightened ones who fight to keep fear from keeping them from life.

The barber who, no matter how long the line, will not rush the masterful shave or cut.

The small-scale makers of precious obscurios – pomegranate spoons, conductors’ batons, harpsichord tuning hammers, War of 1812 re-enactors’ ramrods, hand-cranks for hurdy-gurdies.

The gradeschool that renewed the brownfields back of the A & P and made them ample miraculous May and June.

The streetgang that casts no comment as they thin out to let Bob the barking man squawk past them on the sidewalk.

The two African medical students in Belgrade, 1983, who seeing a traveller lost and broke took him in and fed him rice and beans cooked over a camp stove in their cubicle of a room and let him sleep there while one of them studied all night at the desk between the beds with the lamp swung low.

Those who sit on front porches, not in fenced privacy, in the erotic inaugural summer night steam.

Who redeem from neglect a gorgeous, long-orphaned word.

Who treat dogs with a sincere and comical diplomacy.

Attempt to craft a decent wine in a desperate climate.

Clip the chain of consequence by letting others have the last word.

Master the banjo.

Are operatically loud in love.

These people, without knowing it, are saving the world.

26 April 2009 | 5:27 | No Comments

Boris Johnson

The mayor of London was asked by an interviewer about “power”:

Q: Does power corrupt
A: Power reveals

25 April 2009 | 21:48 | No Comments

Albert A Bartlett

The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.

24 April 2009 | 20:27 | No Comments

A H Weiler

Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn’t have to do it himself.

23 April 2009 | 18:56 | No Comments

Niccolo Machiavelli

It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.

22 April 2009 | 6:31 | 1 Comment

Celia Green

The way to do research is to attack the facts at the point of greatest astonishment.

21 April 2009 | 20:40 | No Comments

Ernst Mach

Substance is a convenient word for a gap in our thoughts.

20 April 2009 | 19:43 | No Comments

Peter Drucker

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.

19 April 2009 | 9:29 | No Comments

a turn of phrase

of someone’s politics

…further to the left than the soup spoon

of a referee, perhaps

…blinder than a welder’s dog

18 April 2009 | 17:42 | No Comments

Woody Allen

90% of success is turning up

17 April 2009 | 22:58 | No Comments

Ambrose Bierce

Admiration, n Our polite recognition of another’s resemblance to ourselves.

16 April 2009 | 20:45 | No Comments

Walt Whitman

A Clear Midnight

This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou
lovest best.
Night, sleep, and the stars.

13 April 2009 | 19:51 | No Comments

John Peel

Somebody was trying to tell me that CDs are better than vinyl because they don’t have any surface noise. I said, ‘Listen, mate, “life” has surface noise.’

10 April 2009 | 22:34 | No Comments

Frederick Russell Burnham

There is nothing that sharpens a man’s senses so acutely as to know that bitter and determined enemies are in pursuit of him night and day.

9 April 2009 | 19:04 | No Comments

William Carlos Williams

It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.

8 April 2009 | 20:58 | No Comments

Damon Runyon

He who tooteth not his own horn, the same shall not be tooted.

7 April 2009 | 18:42 | No Comments

Robert Frost

Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down.

5 April 2009 | 21:21 | No Comments

James D Nicoll

The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.

4 April 2009 | 19:37 | No Comments

Abraham Lincoln

1831 Business Failled
1832 Lost job Defeated for state legislature
1833 Failed in business
1836 Had nervous breakdown
1838 Defeated for legislature
1844 Defeated for Congress
1846 Defeated for Congress
1848 Defeated for Congress
1849 Rejected for land officer
1855 Defeated for U.S. Senate
1856 Defeated for nomination for Vice President
1858 Defeated for U.S. Senate

1860 Elected President

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other thing

3 April 2009 | 21:18 | No Comments

Thomas Carlyle

All greatness is unconscious, or it is little and naught.

1 April 2009 | 10:33 | No Comments

John Donne

The Sun Rising

Busy old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school-boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

Thy beams so reverend, and strong
Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long.
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and to-morrow late tell me,
Whether both th’ Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou left’st them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw’st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, “All here in one bed lay.”

She’s all states, and all princes I;
Nothing else is;
Princes do but play us ; compared to this,
All honour’s mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world’s contracted thus;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that’s done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.

Today is the anniversary of John Donne’s death in 1631

31 March 2009 | 20:14 | No Comments

Francis Bacon

Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper.

30 March 2009 | 22:30 | No Comments

Clive James

The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I am pleased
In vast quantities it has been remaindered.

29 March 2009 | 23:15 | No Comments

Ashleigh Brilliant

There is a world which I alone rule, but it ends at my fingertips.

27 March 2009 | 21:27 | No Comments

Stephen Donaldson

This you have to understand. There’s only one way to hurt a man who’s lost everything. Give him back something broken.

24 March 2009 | 10:45 | No Comments

Thomas Carlyle

No pressure, no diamonds.

22 March 2009 | 22:08 | 1 Comment

Immanuel Kant

…number not voices, but weigh them.

21 March 2009 | 18:35 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

Never invoke the gods unless you really want them to appear. It annoys them very much.

17 March 2009 | 21:51 | No Comments

Victor Hugo

He caught glimpses of everything, but saw nothing.

15 March 2009 | 11:22 | No Comments

Wole Soyinka

I said: “A tiger does not proclaim his tigritude, he pounces”. In other words: a tiger does not stand in the forest and say: “I am a tiger”. When you pass where the tiger has walked before, you see the skeleton of the duiker, you know that some tigritude has been emanated there.

14 March 2009 | 18:44 | No Comments

Jiddu Krishnamurti

The description is not the described; I can describe the mountain, but the description is not the mountain, and if you are caught up in the description, as most people are, then you will never see the mountain.

12 March 2009 | 19:09 | No Comments

Franz Werfel

Between too early and too late, there is never more than a moment.

11 March 2009 | 21:36 | No Comments

Christopher Morley

Printer’s ink has been running a race against gunpowder these many, many years. Ink is handicapped, in a way, because you can blow up a man with gunpowder in half a second, while it may take twenty years to blow him up with a book. But the gunpowder destroys itself along with its victim, while a book can keep on exploding for centuries.

8 March 2009 | 23:52 | No Comments

Jonathan Swift

May you live all the days of your life.

6 March 2009 | 21:03 | No Comments

George MacDonald

A beast does not know that he is a beast, and the nearer a man gets to being a beast, the less he knows it.

5 March 2009 | 7:50 | No Comments

Lewis Mumford

Trend is not destiny

4 March 2009 | 21:28 | No Comments

E L Doctorow

It’s like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

2 March 2009 | 23:41 | No Comments

Austin Clarke

The Planter’s Daughter

When night stirred at sea
And the fire brought a crowd in,
They say that her beauty
Was music in mouth
And few in the candlelight
Thought her too proud,
For the house of the planter
Is known by the trees.

Men that had seen her
Drank deep and were silent,
The women were speaking
Wherever she went –
As a bell that is rung
Or a wonder told shyly,
And O she was the Sunday
In every week.

28 February 2009 | 23:29 | No Comments

C S Lewis

‘Are the gods not just?’
‘Oh no, child. What would become of us if they were?’

27 February 2009 | 21:43 | No Comments

Honore de Balzac

The majority of husbands remind me of an orangutang trying to play the violin.

26 February 2009 | 23:41 | No Comments

Igor Pak

It turns out we can do this not only practically but also theoretically.

24 February 2009 | 23:08 | No Comments

Henry Ward Beecher

Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?

23 February 2009 | 23:30 | No Comments

Paul Dirac

When I say “Yes”, it does not mean that I agree; it means only that you should go on.

21 February 2009 | 21:34 | No Comments

Joseph Conrad

The worst that could be said of him was that he did not represent his class. He was a seaman, but he was a wanderer, too, while most seamen lead, if one may so express it, a sedentary life. Their minds are of the stay-at-home order, and their home is always with them–the ship; and so is their country–the sea.

18 February 2009 | 21:12 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

The mere brute pleasure of reading the sort of pleasure a cow must have in grazing.

16 February 2009 | 8:04 | No Comments

Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

In a war of ideas it is people who get killed.

13 February 2009 | 0:05 | No Comments

Abraham Lincoln

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln was born 10 score years ago today.

12 February 2009 | 9:19 | No Comments

Alan Coren

Apart from cheese and tulips, the main product of the country is advocaat, a drink made from lawyers.

11 February 2009 | 23:27 | No Comments

Richard Lardner

… he give her a look that you could pour on a waffle.

9 February 2009 | 8:35 | No Comments

William James

Whenever two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as the other person sees him, and each man as he really is.

8 February 2009 | 22:38 | No Comments

Robert Frost

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

7 February 2009 | 23:36 | No Comments

Charlton Ogburn

We trained hard . . . but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency, and demoralization.

6 February 2009 | 21:30 | No Comments


Life is short, art long, opportunity fleeting, experience treacherous, judgment difficult.

5 February 2009 | 22:25 | No Comments

Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

He who limps is still walking.

3 February 2009 | 23:39 | No Comments

Percy Bysshe Shelley

A Dirge

Rough Wind, that moanest loud
Grief too sad for song;
Wild wind, when sullen cloud
Knells all the night long;
Sad storm, whose tears are vain,
Bare woods, whose branches strain,
Deep caves and dreary main, _
Wail, for the world’s wrong!

31 January 2009 | 20:59 | No Comments

Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

When smashing monuments, save the pedestals. They always come in handy.

29 January 2009 | 23:11 | No Comments

G H Hardy

Music can be used to stimulate mass emotion, while mathematics cannot.

29 January 2009 | 22:45 | No Comments

Julius H Roscoe Jr

Serendipity is looking in a haystack for a needle and discovering a farmer’s daughter.

today is the 200th anniversary of Horace Walpole’s first coining of the word Serendipity

28 January 2009 | 7:44 | No Comments

Quentin Crisp

Believe in fate but lean forward where fate can see you.

27 January 2009 | 22:12 | 1 Comment

Roger Elaine and the Horse

Let’s say a guy named Roger is attracted to a woman named Elaine.

He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves.

They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else. And then, one evening when they’re driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: ”Do you realize that, as of tonight, we’ve been seeing each other for exactly six months?”

And then there is silence in the car.

To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: Geez, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he’s been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I’m trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn’t want, or isn’t sure of.

And Roger is thinking: Gosh. Six months.

And Elaine is thinking: But, hey, I’m not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I’d have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward . . . I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?

And Roger is thinking: . . . so that means it was . . . let’s see …February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer’s, which means . . . lemme check the odometer . . . Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here.

And Elaine is thinking: He’s upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I’m reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed — even before I sensed it — that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that’s it. That’s why he’s so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He’s afraid of being rejected.

And Roger is thinking: And I’m gonna have them look at the transmission again. I don’t carewhat those morons say, it’s still not shifting right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? It’s 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a goddamn garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.

And Elaine is thinking: He’s angry. And I don’t blame him. I’d be angry, too. God, I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can’t help the way I feel. I’m just not sure.

And Roger is thinking: They’ll probably say it’s only a 90- day warranty. That’s exactly what they’re gonna say, the scumballs.

And Elaine is thinking: maybe I’m just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on hiswhite horse, when I’m sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of my self-centered, schoolgirl romantic fantasy.

And Roger is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? I’ll give them a goddamn warranty. I’ll take their warranty and stick it right up their…. .

”Roger,” Elaine says aloud.

”What?” asks Roger, startled.

”Please don’t torture yourself like this,” she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears. ”Maybe I should never have . .Oh God, I feel so…..” (She breaks down, sobbing.)

”What?” says Roger.

”I’m such a fool,” Elaine sobs.

”I mean, I know there’s no knight. I really know that. It’s silly. There’s no knight, and there’s no horse.”

”There’s no horse?” says Roger.

”You think I’m a fool, don’t you?” Elaine says.

”No!” says Roger, glad to finally know the correct answer.

”It’s just that . . . It’s that I . . . I need some time,” Elaine says.

(There is a 15-second pause while Roger, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.)

”Yes,” he says.

(Elaine, deeply moved, touches his hand.)

”Oh, Roger, do you really feel that way?” she says.

”What way?” says Roger.

”That way about time,” says Elaine.

”Oh,” says Roger. ”Yes.”

(Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.)

”Thank you, Roger,” she says.

”Thank you,” says Roger.

Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, and weeps until dawn, whereas when Roger gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he never heard of.

A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures. it’s better if he doesn’t think about it. (This is also Roger’s policyregarding world hunger.)

The next day Elaine will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification. They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it, either.

Meanwhile, Roger, while playing racquetball one day with a mutual friend of his and Elaine’s, will pause just before serving, frown, and say: ”Norm, did Elaine ever own a horse?’

26 January 2009 | 23:58 | 2 Comments

D H Lawrence

I like relativity and quantum theories
Because I don’t understand them
And they make me feel as if space shifted
About like a swan that can’t settle
Refusing to sit still and be measured
And as if the atom were an impulsive thing
Always changing its mind.

24 January 2009 | 21:16 | No Comments

Ralp Waldo Emerson

The blazing evidence of immortality is our dissatisfaction with any other solution.

23 January 2009 | 23:07 | No Comments

Henry Ford

Asking “who ought to be the boss” is like asking “who ought to be the tenor in the quartet?” Obviously, the man who can sing tenor.

21 January 2009 | 17:23 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

The cosmos is about the smallest hole that a man can hide his head in.

20 January 2009 | 23:00 | 1 Comment

Edgar Alan Poe

“That is another of your odd notions,” said the Prefect, who had a fashion of calling everything “odd” that was beyond his comprehension, and thus lived amid an absolute legion of “oddities”.

200th anniversary of Poe’s birth

19 January 2009 | 9:09 | No Comments

De la Lastra’s Corollary

After an access cover has been secured by 16 hold-down screws, it will be discovered that the gasket has been omitted.

17 January 2009 | 23:02 | No Comments

Ogden Nash

Further Reflection on Parsley

Is gharsley

15 January 2009 | 17:38 | No Comments

P G Wodehouse

If the prophet Job were to walk into the room at this moment, I could sit swapping hard-luck stories with him till bedtime.

13 January 2009 | 23:22 | No Comments

C S Lewis

You know your lover by looking into their eyes and heart. You know your friends by reading, arguing, praying, playing, speaking, etc. with them.

12 January 2009 | 23:53 | No Comments

John Agard

Call alligator long-mouth
call alligator saw-mouth
call alligator pushy-mouth
call alligator scissors-mouth
call alligator raggedy-mouth
call alligator bumpy-bum
call alligator all dem rude word
but better wait
….. till you cross river.

31 December 2008 | 18:54 | No Comments

Davy Crocket

I leave this rule for others when I’m dead
Be always sure you’re right – THEN GO AHEAD!

29 December 2008 | 17:50 | No Comments

Anzia Yezierska

Poverty is a bag with a hole at the bottom.

28 December 2008 | 21:57 | No Comments

A Palindrome

Sums are not set as a test on Erasmus.

27 December 2008 | 16:39 | No Comments

Horatio William Bottomley

Ending his career as journalist and politician with a 5 year prison sentence for fraud, Bottomley was approached whilst stitching mailbags by a prison visitor who asked him:

‘Sewing, Bottomley’

to which he simply replied:

‘No, reaping.’

26 December 2008 | 11:40 | No Comments

Benjamin Zephaniah

Talking Turkeys

Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas
Cos’ turkeys just wanna hav fun
Turkeys are cool, turkeys are wicked
An every turkey has a Mum.
Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas,
Don’t eat it, keep it alive,
It could be yu mate, an not on your plate
Say, Yo! Turkey I’m on your side.
I got lots of friends who are turkeys
An all of dem fear christmas time,
Dey wanna enjoy it, dey say humans destroyed it
An humans are out of dere mind,
Yeah, I got lots of friends who are turkeys
Dey all hav a right to a life,
Not to be caged up an genetically made up
By any farmer an his wife.

Turkeys just wanna play reggae
Turkeys just wanna hip-hop
Can yu imagine a nice young turkey saying,
‘I cannot wait for de chop’,
Turkeys like getting presents, dey wanna watch christmas TV,
Turkeys hav brains an turkeys feel pain
In many ways like yu an me.

I once knew a turkey called – Turkey
He said “Benji explain to me please,
Who put de turkey in christmas
An what happens to christmas trees?”,
I said “I am not too sure turkey
But it’s nothing to do wid Christ Mass
Humans get greedy an waste more dan need be
An business men mek loadsa cash’.

Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
Invite dem indoors fe sum greens
Let dem eat cake an let dem partake
In a plate of organic grown beans,
Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
An spare dem de cut of de knife,
Join Turkeys United an dey’ll be delighted
An yu will mek new friends ‘FOR LIFE’.

25 December 2008 | 11:45 | No Comments

Boris Johnson

from The Perils of the Pushy Parents

One Christmas in the usual way
The school put on a touching play
To mark Our Lord’s nativity
Young Molly was enthralled to be
Elected by her cheering class
To play the reasr end of the ASS
‘What DO you mean?’ cried Molly’s mum.
‘They’ve made you act a donkey’s bum?
How dare they force my little lass
to imitate as ass’s ass?
We rather hoped the BBC
Would hire you as a news trainee.
And after that it’s our intent
To shove you into parliament.
Up the greasy pole – and then
Propel you into Number 10!
But as it is your school, God rot ’em.
Potrays you as some dobbin’s bottom.
What kind of university
Wants “donkey bum” on your CV?’
Before the girl could disabuse her
Mum had found the show’s producer
And as a stork devours a frog
She seized the trembling pedagogue.
Quite what she whispered in his ear
I cannot say and yet I fear
It must have been extremely scary
He sacked the pupil playing Mary
And handing her a donkey’s tail
He hushed her unbelieving wail:
‘Can it kiddo, you’re a gonner.
We’re casting Molly as Madonna!’

24 December 2008 | 9:50 | No Comments

Kurt Vonnegut

Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.

23 December 2008 | 21:54 | No Comments

Robert Byrne

Getting caught is the mother of invention.

22 December 2008 | 23:40 | No Comments

Gore Vidal

I am at heart a propagandist, a tremendous hater, a tiresome nag, complacently positive that there is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.

20 December 2008 | 12:38 | No Comments

Edmund Burke

The effect of liberty to individuals is, that they may do what they please: we ought to see what it will please them to do, before we risk congratulations.

18 December 2008 | 19:49 | No Comments

Arthur Guiterman

What One Approves, Another Scorns

What one approves,
another scorns,
and thus
his nature each discloses.
You find the rosebush
full of thorns,
I find the
thornbush full of roses.

17 December 2008 | 10:06 | No Comments

Alfred North Whitehead

We think in generalities, but we live in detail.

17 December 2008 | 0:16 | No Comments

Don Paterson

My obsession with computers (what an infancy they’re in, and how it charms) is a kind of nostalgia for the future. I long to be-half man half-desk.

15 December 2008 | 23:40 | No Comments

Laurence J Peter

The man who says he is willing to meet you halfway is usually a poor judge of distance.

14 December 2008 | 12:18 | 1 Comment

Carl Sandburg


Here is dust remembers it was a rose
one time and lay in a woman’s hair.
Here is dust remembers it was a woman
one time and in her hair lay a rose.
Oh things one time dust, what else now is it
you dream and remember of old days?

13 December 2008 | 21:39 | No Comments

George Bernard Shaw

on being asked in a restaurant if there was anything he would like the orchestra to play…


12 December 2008 | 20:23 | No Comments

E B White

The time not to become a father is eighteen years before a war.

11 December 2008 | 18:12 | No Comments

Spike Milligan

Down the Stream the Swans All Glide

Down the stream the swans all glide;
It’s quite the cheapest way to ride.
Their legs get wet,
Their tummies wetter:
I think after all
The bus is better.

10 December 2008 | 7:14 | 1 Comment

Mark Twain

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.

9 December 2008 | 23:20 | No Comments

Judy Garland

Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else.

8 December 2008 | 22:45 | No Comments

Václav Havel

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.

7 December 2008 | 9:08 | No Comments


Odes, Book 3, Verse 29: Happy the Man

Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul or rain or shine
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.

6 December 2008 | 19:08 | No Comments

F E Smith

On Winston Churchill

He has devoted the best years of his life to preparing his impromptu speeches.

5 December 2008 | 10:18 | No Comments

Carolyn Wells

The Flute Tutor

A tooter who tooted a flute
tried to tutor two tooters to toot.
Said the two to the tooter,
“Is it harder to toot, or
to tutor two tooters to toot?”

3 December 2008 | 11:48 | No Comments

Czesław Miłosz

…poems should be written rarely and reluctantly,
under unbearable duress and only with the hope
that good spirits, not evil ones, choose us for their instrument.

2 December 2008 | 16:14 | No Comments

Samuel Johnson

The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.

1 December 2008 | 15:08 | No Comments

Soren Kierkegaard

To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.

30 November 2008 | 19:47 | No Comments

Speaker Lenthall

May it please your majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as this house is pleased to direct me whose servant I am here; and humbly beg your majesty’s pardon that I cannot give any other answer than this

29 November 2008 | 14:12 | No Comments

Robertson Davies

Every man is wise when attacked by a mad dog; fewer when pursued by a mad woman; only the wisest survive when attacked by a mad notion.

27 November 2008 | 18:59 | No Comments

Roald Dahl

And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.

25 November 2008 | 17:34 | No Comments

Sir Harry Vaisey

A gentleman’s agreement is an agreement which is not an agreement, made between two people neither of whom are gentlemen, whereby each expects the other to be strictly bound without himself being bound at all.

23 November 2008 | 9:30 | No Comments

Andrew Motion

Causa Belli

They read good books, and quote, but never learn
a language other than the scream of rocket-burn
Our straighter talk is drowned but ironclad;
elections, money, empire, oil and Dad.

22 November 2008 | 21:07 | No Comments

Liam Byrne

Eliminate absolutely, positively all extraneous words

21 November 2008 | 16:29 | No Comments

Sir Francis Bacon

A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.

20 November 2008 | 21:08 | No Comments

Ambrose Bierce

To be positive: To be mistaken at the top of one’s voice.

18 November 2008 | 7:42 | No Comments

H L Mencken

his stock reply to angry letters:

Dear Sir,

You may be right.

Sincerely yours,

H L Mencken

17 November 2008 | 8:29 | No Comments

James Thurber

I loathe the expression “What makes him tick.” It is the American mind, looking for simple and singular solution, that uses the foolish expression. A person not only ticks, he also chimes and strikes the hour, falls and breaks and has to be put together again, and sometimes stops like an electric clock in a thunderstorm.

16 November 2008 | 20:18 | No Comments

Philip Larkin


What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

15 November 2008 | 22:30 | No Comments


All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsions, habit, reason, passion, desire.

14 November 2008 | 21:13 | No Comments

Russ Nelson

Taxes feed the naked and clothe the hungry.

13 November 2008 | 22:25 | No Comments

Philosophical Reflection

Nietzsche is pietzche
But Sartre is smartre.

12 November 2008 | 21:55 | No Comments

William Thackeray

To endure is greater than to dare; to tire out hostile fortune; to be daunted by no difficulty; to keep heart when all have lost it; to go through intrigue spotless; to forego even ambition when the end is gained – who can say this is not greatness?

10 November 2008 | 22:57 | No Comments

Carl Sandburg


Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work-
I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?

I am the grass.
Let me work.

9 November 2008 | 12:49 | No Comments

Bill Koch

The secret to winning is very simple: do everything reasonably well and make no mistakes.

8 November 2008 | 19:46 | No Comments

The (Over) Optimist

They said that it could not be done:
With a laugh he went right to it.
He tackled the thing that couldn’t be done –
And couldn’t do it.

6 November 2008 | 19:06 | No Comments

Michael Crichton

Although knowledge of how things work is sufficient to allow manipulation of nature, what humans really want to know is why things work. Children don’t ask how the sky is blue. They ask why the sky is blue.

5 November 2008 | 18:31 | No Comments

Thomas A Edison

As a cure for worrying, work is better than whiskey.

4 November 2008 | 23:11 | No Comments

Mark Twain

I can live for two months on a good compliment.

3 November 2008 | 22:21 | No Comments

Betty Miller

We are all guilty of hammering on the knuckles of those who try to climb into our boat.

2 November 2008 | 21:03 | No Comments

Fydor Dostoyevsky

Whether it is a good thing or a bad thing, smashing things up is sometimes very pleasant.

31 October 2008 | 18:16 | 1 Comment

Jack Prelutsky

The Diatonic Dittymunch

The Diatonic Dittymunch plucked music from the air,
He swallowed scores of symphonies and still had space to spare.
Sonatas and cantatas slithered sweetly down his throat;
He made ballads into salads and consumed them note by note.

He ate marches and mazurkas, he ate rhapsodies and reels,
Minuets and tarantellas were the staples of his meals.
But the Diatonic Dittymunch outdid himself one day:
He ate a three-act opera —
And LOUDLY passed away.

29 October 2008 | 15:45 | No Comments

I Ching

Before the beginning of great brilliance, there must be chaos. Before a brilliant person begins something great, they must look foolish in the crowd.

28 October 2008 | 16:23 | No Comments

Dylan Thomas

I hold a beast, an angel and a madman in me, and my enquiry is as to their working, and my problem is their subjugation and victory, downthrow and upheaval, and my effort is their self-expression.

27 October 2008 | 11:28 | No Comments

Henry David Thoreau

Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end, an end which it was already but too easy to arrive at; as railroads lead to Boston or New York. We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.

26 October 2008 | 10:37 | No Comments

Walt Whitman

The Dalliance of the Eagles

Skirting the river road, (my forenoon walk, my rest,)
Skyward in air a sudden muffled sound, the dalliance of the eagles,
The rushing amorous contact high in space together,
The clinching interlocking claws, a living, fierce, gyrating wheel,
Four beating wings, two beaks, a swirling mass tight grappling,
In tumbling turning clustering loops, straight downward falling
Till o’er the river pois’d, the twain yet one, a moment’s lull,
A motionless still balance in the air, then parting, talons loosing,
Upward again on slow-firm pinions slanting, their separate diverse flight,
She hers, he his, pursuing.

25 October 2008 | 20:31 | No Comments

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Nothing wilts faster than laurels that have been rested upon.

24 October 2008 | 20:36 | No Comments

Hilaire Belloc

How did the party go in Portman Square?
I cannot tell you; Juliet was not there.
And how did Lady Gaster’s party go?
Juliet was next me and I do not know.

22 October 2008 | 15:02 | No Comments

Theodore Roosevelt

The unforgivable crime is soft hitting. Do not hit at all if it can be avoided; but never hit softly.

21 October 2008 | 20:39 | No Comments

Judah Benjamin

Response when asked how he was able to maintain his substantial income.

First, I charge a retainer; then I charge a reminder; next I charge a refresher; and then I charge a finisher.

20 October 2008 | 6:16 | No Comments

Carl Sandburg

The old anvil laughs at many broken hammers.

19 October 2008 | 19:55 | No Comments

Sara Teasdale

Wild Asters

In the spring I asked the daisies
If his words were true,
And the clever, clear-eyed daisies
Always knew.

Now the fields are brown and barren,
Bitter autumn blows,
And of all the stupid asters
Not one knows.

18 October 2008 | 18:58 | No Comments

Charles Kettering

An inventor is an engineer who doesn’t take his education too seriously.

17 October 2008 | 7:23 | No Comments

Dorothy Parker

One Perfect Rose

A single flow’r he sent me, since we met.
All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet –
One perfect rose.

I knew the language of the floweret;
‘My fragile leaves,’ it said, ‘his heart enclose.’
Love long has taken for his amulet
One perfect rose.

Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it’s always just my luck to get
One perfect rose.

15 October 2008 | 6:51 | No Comments

John Donne

Thou art so true that thoughts of you suffice
To make dreams truths and fables histories

14 October 2008 | 21:01 | No Comments

Sir Josiah Stamp

Banking was conceived in iniquity and was born in sin. The Bankers own the Earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create deposits, and with the flick of the pen they will create enough deposits to buy it back again. However, take it away from them, and all the great fortunes like mine will disappear, and they ought to disappear, for this would be a happier and better world to live in. But if you wish to remain the slaves of Bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, let them continue to create deposits.

Sir Josiah Stamp was President of the Bank of England and the 2nd richest man in Britain

13 October 2008 | 22:12 | No Comments

Geoffrey Madan

Never refuse a thing till you have the refusal of it.

12 October 2008 | 9:49 | No Comments

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Heaven’s Haven

A nun takes the veil

I have desired to go
Where springs not fail,
To fields where flies no sharp and sided hail
And a few lilies blow.

And I have asked to be
Where no storms come,
Where the green swell is in the havens dumb,
And out of the swing of the sea.

11 October 2008 | 9:38 | No Comments

Scottish saying

Bad mistakes provide a man wi’ quick experience.

10 October 2008 | 21:15 | No Comments

Louis XIV

Every time I fill a vacant position I make ten malcontents and one ingrate.

9 October 2008 | 20:00 | No Comments

W H Auden

Music can be made anywhere, is invisible and does not smell.

7 October 2008 | 7:36 | No Comments

Herman Melville

A man thinks that by mouthing hard words he understands hard things.

6 October 2008 | 21:21 | No Comments

Marcus Tullius Cicero

I am not ashamed to confess that I am ignorant of what I do not know.

5 October 2008 | 20:29 | No Comments

Walter de la Mare


There is wind where the rose was,
Cold rain where sweet grass was,
And clouds like sheep
Stream o’er the steep
Grey skies where the lark was.

Nought warm where your hand was,
Nought gold where your hair was,
But phantom, forlorn,
Beneath the thorn,
Your ghost where your face was.

Cold wind where your voice was,
Tears, tears where my heart was,
And ever with me,
Child, ever with me,
Silence where hope was.

4 October 2008 | 19:48 | No Comments

Desiderius Erasmus

Your library is your paradise.

3 October 2008 | 17:52 | 1 Comment

Walter Bagehot

And though the Bank of England certainly do make great advances in time of panic, yet as they do not do so on any distinct principle, they naturally do it hesitatingly, reluctantly, and with misgiving…. ….In fact, to make large advances in this faltering way is to incur the evil of making them without obtaining the advantage. What is wanted and what is necessary to stop a panic is to diffuse the impression, that though money may be dear, still money is to be had. If people could be really convinced that they could have money if they wait a day or two, and that utter ruin is not coming, most likely they would cease to run in such a mad way for money. Either shut the Bank at once, and say it will not lend more than it commonly lends, or lend freely, boldly, and so that the public may feel you mean to go on lending. To lend a great deal, and yet not give the public confidence that you will lend sufficiently and effectually, is the worst of all policies.

1 October 2008 | 21:24 | No Comments

Albert Einstein

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.

30 September 2008 | 7:32 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

Before the time of Shakespeare men had grown used to the Ptolemaic astronomy, and since the time of Shakespeare men have grown used to the Copernican astronomy. But poets have never grown used to the stars; and it is their business to prevent anybody else ever growing used to them. And any man who reads for the first time the words, “Night’s candles are burnt out”, catches his breath.

29 September 2008 | 7:45 | No Comments

Wendy Cope

Two Cures for Love
1) Don’t see him. Don’t phone or write a letter.
2) The easy way: get to know him better.

28 September 2008 | 19:52 | No Comments

Eugene Guillevic

Without end

The wild flowers will have given
At least their due

Do not tremble
You continue

27 September 2008 | 16:23 | No Comments

Thomas Edison

Restlessness and discontent are the first necessities of progress.

26 September 2008 | 11:53 | No Comments

Sophie Hannah

commissioned by O2 as a romantic txt poem.

Blank spaces count as characters. It’s true.
I wasn’t sure. And then I thought of you.

24 September 2008 | 19:40 | No Comments

Paul Saffo

Never mistake a clear view for a short distance.

23 September 2008 | 12:03 | No Comments

C S Lewis

Disobedience to conscience is voluntary; bad poetry, on the other hand, is usually not made on purpose.

22 September 2008 | 9:03 | No Comments

Walt Whitman

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

21 September 2008 | 18:36 | No Comments

Ogden Nash

One rule which woe betides the banker who fails to heed it …
Never lend any money to anybody unless they don’t need it.

18 September 2008 | 7:19 | No Comments

Maximilien Robespierre

When a Banker jumps out of a window, jump after him – that’s where the money is.

17 September 2008 | 21:21 | No Comments

T E Lawrence

Lady on a hot day in Cairo: “Ninety-two this morning, Colonel Lawrence! Ninety-two. What do you say to that?”

T E Lawrence: “Many happy returns of the day”

16 September 2008 | 15:23 | No Comments

Albert Einstein

On relativity

I simply ignored an Axiom.

15 September 2008 | 21:27 | No Comments

Sir William Osler

One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicine.

14 September 2008 | 19:34 | No Comments

W B Yeats

Sailing to Byzantium

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
– Those dying generations – at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

14 September 2008 | 12:33 | No Comments

Sir Arthur Helps

No one ever praised two men equally, and pleased them both

12 September 2008 | 14:10 | No Comments

Carl Sandburg

The ugliest word in the English language is “exclusive”

11 September 2008 | 7:20 | No Comments

Frank Sidgwick

The Aeronaut to his Lady

Why ?

Slow !

a sonnet with only 14 words

original post incorrectly attributed to Frank’s brother Hugh

10 September 2008 | 22:10 | No Comments

Henrik Ibsen

You should never wear your best trousers when you go out to fight for freedom and liberty.

9 September 2008 | 8:30 | No Comments

Stephen Fry

It is a cliche that most cliches are true, but then, like most cliches, that cliche is untrue

8 September 2008 | 8:07 | No Comments

Daniel O’Connell

Peel’s smile: like the silver plate on a coffin.

7 September 2008 | 13:33 | No Comments

Arthur Symons

You Remain

As a perfume doth remain
In the folds where it hath lain,
So the thought of you, remaining
Deeply folded in my brain,
Will not leave me; all things leave me;
You remain.

Other thoughts may come and go
Other moments I may know,
That shall waft me, in their going
As a breath blown to and fro;
Fragrant memories, fragrant memories
Come and Go.

Only thoughts of you remain
In my heart where they have lain-
Perfumed thoughts of you, remaining
A hid sweetness, in my brain.
Others leave me; all things leave me;
You remain.

6 September 2008 | 14:23 | No Comments

Roger McGough


To amuse
on warm summer nights

do wiwis
from spectacular heights

3 September 2008 | 17:34 | No Comments

Shelley Berman

A hotel correspondence.

Dear Maid,

Please do not leave any more of those little bars of soap in my bathroom since I have brought my own bath-sized Dial. Please remove the six unopened little bars from the shelf under the medicine chest and another three in the shower soap dish. They are in my way.

Thank you,

S. Berman

Dear Room 635,

I am not your regular maid. She will be back tomorrow, Thursday, from her day off. I took the 3 hotel soaps out of the shower soap dish as you requested. The 6 bars on your shelf I took out of your way and put on top of your Kleenex dispenser in case you should change your mind. This leaves only the 3 bars I left today which my instructions from the management is to leave 3 soaps daily.

I hope this is satisfactory.

Kathy, Relief Maid

Dear Maid (I hope you are my regular maid),

Apparently Kathy did not tell you about my note to her concerning the little bars of soap. When I got back to my room this evening I found you had added 3 little Camays to the shelf under my medicine cabinet. I am going to be here in the hotel for two weeks and have brought my own bath-size Dial so I won’t need those 6 little Camays which are on the shelf. They are in my way when shaving, brushing teeth, etc.

Please remove them.

S. Berman

Dear Mr. Berman,

My day off was last Wed. so the relief maid left 3 hotel soaps which we are instructed by the management. I took the 6 soaps which were in your way on the shelf and put them in the soap dish where your Dial was. I put the Dial in the medicine cabinet for your convenience.

I didn’t remove the 3 complimentary soaps which are always placed inside the medicine cabinet for all new check-ins and which you did not object to when you checked in last Monday. Please let me know if I can of further assistance.

Your regular maid,


Dear Mr. Berman,

The assistant manager, Mr. Kensedder, informed me this A.M. that you called him last evening and said you were unhappy with your maid service. I have assigned a new girl to your room. I hope you will accept my apologies for any past inconvenience. If you have any future complaints please contact me so I can give it my personal attention. Call extension 1108 between 8AM and 5PM. Thank you.

Elaine Carmen,

Dear Miss Carmen,

It is impossible to contact you by phone since I leave the hotel for business at 745 AM and don’t get back before 530 or 6PM. That’s the reason I called Mr. Kensedder last night. You were already off duty. I only asked Mr. Kensedder if he could do anything about those little bars of soap. The new maid you assigned me must have thought I was a new check-in today, since she left another 3 bars of hotel soap in my medicine cabinet along with her regular delivery of 3 bars on the bath-room shelf. In just 5 days here I have accumulated 24 little bars of soap. Why are you doing this to me?

S. Berman

Your maid, Kathy, has been instructed to stop delivering soap to your room and remove the extra soaps. If I can be of further assistance, please call extension 1108 between 8AM and 5PM. Thank you,
Elaine Carmen,


Dear Mr. Kensedder,

My bath-size Dial is missing. Every bar of soap was taken from my room including my own bath-size Dial. I came in late last night and had to call the bellhop to bring me 4 little Cashmere Bouquets.
S. Berman

Dear Mr. Berman,

I have informed our housekeeper, Elaine Carmen, of your soap problem. I cannot understand why there was no soap in your room since our maids are instructed to leave 3 bars of soap each time they service a room. The situation will be rectified immediately. Please accept my apologies for the inconvenience.

Martin L. Kensedder
Assistant Manager

Dear Mrs. Carmen,

Who the hell left 54 little bars of Camay in my room? I came in last night and found 54 little bars of soap. I don’t want 54 little bars of Camay. I want my one damn bar of bath-size Dial. Do you realize I have 54 bars of soap in here. All I want is my bath size Dial.

Please give me back my bath-size Dial.

S. Berman

Dear Mr. Berman,

You complained of too much soap in your room so I had them removed. Then you complained to Mr. Kensedder that all your soap was missing so I personally returned them. The 24 Camays which had been taken and the 3 Camays you are supposed to receive daily (sic). I don’t know anything about the 4 Cashmere Bouquets. Obviously your maid, Kathy, did not know I had returned your soaps so she also brought 24 Camays plus the 3 daily Camays.

I don’t know where you got the idea this hotel issues bath-size Dial. I was able to locate some bath-size Ivory which I left in your room.

Elaine Carmen

Dear Mrs. Carmen,

Just a short note to bring you up to date on my latest soap inventory. As of today I possess:
– On shelf under medicine cabinet – 18 Camay in 4 stacks of 4 and 1 stack of 2.
– On Kleenex dispenser – 11 Camay in 2 stacks of 4 and 1 stack of 3.
– On bedroom dresser – 1 stack of 3 Cashmere Bouquet, 1 stack of 4 hotel-size Ivory, and 8 Camay in 2 stacks of 4.
– Inside medicine cabinet – 14 Camay in 3 stacks of 4 and 1 stack of 2.
– In shower soap dish – 6 Camay, very moist.
– On northeast corner of tub – 1 Cashmere Bouquet, slightly used.
– On northwest corner of tub – 6 Camays in 2 stacks of 3.
Please ask Kathy when she services my room to make sure the stacks are neatly piled and dusted. Also, please advise her that stacks of more than 4 have a tendency to tip. May I suggest that my bedroom window sill is not in use and will make an excellent spot for future soap deliveries. One more item, I have purchased another bar of bath-sized Dial which I am keeping in the hotel vault in order to avoid further misunderstandings.

S. Berman

2 September 2008 | 15:07 | No Comments

Democritus Junior

They lard their lean books with the fat of others’ works.

2 September 2008 | 8:08 | No Comments

Yogi Berra

Nobody goes there anymore it is too crowded.

1 September 2008 | 7:41 | No Comments

Eric Linklater

of Sir Compton Mackenzie

His clothes resembled the adjectives in a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins: chosen for their texture and colour, and often most arbitrarily joined

31 August 2008 | 8:11 | No Comments

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Hiawatha’s Departure

By the shore of Gitchie Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
At the doorway of his wigwam,
In the pleasant Summer morning,
Hiawatha stood and waited.
All the air was full of freshness,
All the earth was bright and joyous,
And before him through the sunshine,
Westward toward the neighboring forest
Passed in golden swarms the Ahmo,
Passed the bees, the honey-makers,
Burning, singing in the sunshine.
Bright above him shown the heavens,
Level spread the lake before him;
From its bosom leaped the sturgeon,
Sparkling, flashing in the sunshine;
On its margin the great forest
Stood reflected in the water,
Every tree-top had its shadow,
Motionless beneath the water.
From the brow of Hiawatha
Gone was every trace of sorrow,
As the fog from off the water,
And the mist from off the meadow.
With a smile of joy and triumph,
With a look of exultation,
As of one who in a vision
Sees what is to be, but is not,
Stood and waited Hiawatha.

30 August 2008 | 10:21 | No Comments

Jorge Luis Borges

All men who repeat a line from Shakespeare are William Shakespeare.

29 August 2008 | 14:13 | No Comments

Anthony Wilden

The supreme value of remaining silent when you have nothing to say is not a recognized academic virtue.

29 August 2008 | 7:31 | No Comments

Roger McGough


Be he moth
or be he not
He be noth
ing when I swat

27 August 2008 | 7:41 | No Comments

Marcel Proust

The fault I find with our journalism is that it forces us to take an interest in some fresh triviality or other every day, whereas only three or four books in a lifetime give us anything that is of real importance.

26 August 2008 | 7:05 | No Comments

Boris Johnson

The French looked at a dining table and saw an opportunity to have dinner, the English looked at a dining table and saw an opportunity to play ping-pong.

25 August 2008 | 17:51 | No Comments

Roald Amundsen

Adventure is just bad planning.

25 August 2008 | 7:35 | No Comments

Emily Dickinson

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise

As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind—

24 August 2008 | 16:56 | No Comments

Henry David Thoreau

The bluebird carries the sky on his back.

21 August 2008 | 21:53 | No Comments

George Eliot

“I like breakfast-time better than any other moment in the day,” said Mr. Irwine. “No dust has settled on one’s mind then, and it presents a clear mirror to the rays of things.

20 August 2008 | 22:03 | No Comments

Eric Hoffer

Our credulity is greatest concerning the things we know least about. And since we know least about ourselves, we are ready to believe all that is said about us. Hence the mysterious power of both flattery and calumny.

18 August 2008 | 7:35 | No Comments

Charles Mackay

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.

17 August 2008 | 17:58 | No Comments

William Carlos Williams


a burst of iris so that
come down for

we searched through the
rooms for

sweetest odor and at
first could not
find its

source then a blue as
of the sea

startling us from among
those trumpeting

17 August 2008 | 17:56 | No Comments

William Hazlitt

If I have not read a book before, it is, for all intents and purposes, new to me whether it was printed yesterday or three hundred years ago.

14 August 2008 | 22:38 | No Comments

William G Childs

Judge Tries to Unring Bell Hanging Around Neck of Horse Already Out of Barn Being Carried on Ship That Has Sailed.

12 August 2008 | 19:53 | No Comments

Herman Melville

There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method.

12 August 2008 | 7:33 | No Comments

Henry Ford

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.

10 August 2008 | 21:06 | No Comments

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tegner’s Drapa

I heard a voice, that cried,
“Balder the Beautiful
Is dead, is dead!”
And through the misty air
Passed like the mournful cry
Of sunward sailing cranes.

I saw the pallid corpse
Of the dead sun
Borne through the Northern sky.
Blasts from Niffelheim
Lifted the sheeted mists
Around him as he passed.

And the voice forever cried,
“Balder the Beautiful
Is dead, is dead!”
And died away
Through the dreary night,
In accents of despair.

Balder the Beautiful,
God of the summer sun,
Fairest of all the Gods!
Light from his forehead beamed,
Runes were upon his tongue,
As on the warrior’s sword.

All things in earth and air
Bound were by magic spell
Never to do him harm;
Even the plants and stones;
All save the mistletoe,
The sacred mistletoe!

Hoeder, the blind old God,
Whose feet are shod with silence,
Pierced through that gentle breast
With his sharp spear, by fraud
Made of the mistletoe,
The accursed mistletoe!

They laid him in his ship,
With horse and harness,
As on a funeral pyre.
Odin placed
A ring upon his finger,
And whispered in his ear.

They launched the burning ship!
It floated far away
Over the misty sea,
Till like the sun it seemed,
Sinking beneath the waves.
Balder returned no more!

So perish the old Gods!
But out of the sea of Time
Rises a new land of song,
Fairer than the old.
Over its meadows green
Walk the young bards and sing.

Build it again,
O ye bards,
Fairer than before!
Ye fathers of the new race,
Feed upon morning dew,
Sing the new Song of Love!

The law of force is dead!
The law of love prevails!
Thor, the thunderer,
Shall rule the earth no more,
No more, with threats,
Challenge the meek Christ.

Sing no more,
O ye bards of the North,
Of Vikings and of Jarls!
Of the days of Eld
Preserve the freedom only,
Not the deeds of blood!

9 August 2008 | 13:20 | No Comments

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Authority forgets a dying king.

7 August 2008 | 19:17 | No Comments

Edmund Clerihew Bentley

George the Third
Ought never to have occurred.
One can only wonder
At so grotesque a blunder

6 August 2008 | 7:12 | No Comments


One great use of words is to hide our thoughts.

5 August 2008 | 7:45 | No Comments

Douglas Adams

Solutions nearly always come from the direction you least expect, which means there’s no point trying to look in that direction because it won’t be coming from there.

5 August 2008 | 7:08 | No Comments

Jorge Luis Borges

When it was proclaimed that the Library contained all books, the first impression was one of extravagant happiness. All men felt themselves to be the masters of an intact and secret treasure. There was no personal or world problem whose eloquent solution did not exist in some hexagon.

… As was natural, this inordinate hope was followed by an excessive depression. The certitude that some shelf in some hexagon held precious books and that these precious books were inaccessible, seemed almost intolerable.

3 August 2008 | 21:18 | No Comments

Lou Reed

Just a perfect day
Drink sangria in the park
Then later, when it gets dark, we go home
Just a perfect day
Feed animals in the zoo
Then later a movie too, and then home
Oh it’s such a perfect day
I’m glad I spent it with you
Oh such a perfect day
You just keep me hanging on
You just keep me hanging on
Just a perfect day
Problems all left alone
Weekenders on our own, it’s such fun
Just a perfect day
You made me forget myself
I thought I was someone else, someone good
Oh it’s such a perfect day
I’m glad I spent it with you
Such a perfect day
You just keep me hanging on
You just keep me hanging on
You’re going to reap just what you sow
You’re going to reap just what you sow
You’re going to reap just what you sow
You’re going to reap just what you sow
You’re going to reap just what you sow

2 August 2008 | 21:24 | No Comments

Royal Institute of International Affairs

Chatham House Rule

When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.

Chatham House is the home of the Royal Institute of International Affairs

1 August 2008 | 20:14 | No Comments

Calvin Trillin

The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.

31 July 2008 | 20:15 | No Comments

Mark Eckman

I have a spelling checker
It came with my PC
It highlights for my review
Mistakes I cannot sea.

I ran this poem thru it
I’m sure your pleased to no
Its letter perfect in it’s weigh
My checker told me sew.

There are a number of different versions, extensions and derivatives of this poem that can be found; however Mark Eckman has confirmed that this is the text of his original.

30 July 2008 | 15:58 | No Comments

E E Cummings

If they give you lined paper, write the other way.

29 July 2008 | 9:29 | No Comments

Eric Hoffer

When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other. Originality is deliberate and forced, and partakes of the nature of a protest.

28 July 2008 | 7:05 | No Comments

Robert Fulford

A print addict is a man who reads in elevators. People occasionally look at me curiously when they see me standing there, reading a paragraph or two as the elevator goes up. To me, it’s curious that there are people who do not read in elevators. What can they be thinking about?

27 July 2008 | 11:14 | No Comments

John Boyle O’Reilly

A White Rose

The red rose whispers of passion,
And the white rose breathes of love;
O the red rose is a falcon,
And the white rose is a dove.

But I send you a cream-white rosebud
With a flush on its petal tips;
For the love that is purest and sweetest
Has a kiss of desire on the lips.

26 July 2008 | 11:11 | No Comments

Samuel Butler

It has been said that whilst God cannot alter the past, historians can; it perhaps because they can be useful to Him in this respect that He tolerates their existence.

25 July 2008 | 19:50 | No Comments

David Dixon

Haiku Error Message

Three things are certain:
Death, taxes, and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.

24 July 2008 | 12:25 | No Comments

Horace Mann

Habit is a cable; we weave a thread of it each day, and at last we cannot break it.

23 July 2008 | 20:16 | No Comments

Don Paterson

A life lived in the margins and the footnotes of himself – his epitaph: He Digressed

21 July 2008 | 22:16 | No Comments

John Godfrey Saxe

The Blind Men and the Elephant

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
I see, quoth he, the Elephant
Is very like a snake!

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain, quoth he;
‘Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: Even the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!?

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
I see, quoth he, the Elephant
Is very like a rope!

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!


So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

19 July 2008 | 17:31 | No Comments

Carl Sandburg

Elephants Are Different to Different People

Wilson and Pilcer and Snack stood before the zoo elephant.

Wilson said, “What is its name? Is it from Asia or Africa? Who feeds
it? Is it a he or a she? How old is it? Do they have twins? How much does
it cost to feed? How much does it weigh? If it dies, how much will another
one cost? If it dies, what will they use the bones, the fat, and the hide
for? What use is it besides to look at?”

Pilcer didn’t have any questions; he was murmering to himself, “It’s
a house by itself, walls and windows, the ears came from tall cornfields,
by God; the architect of those legs was a workman, by God; he stands like
a bridge out across the deep water; the face is sad and the eyes are kind;
I know elephants are good to babies.”

Snack looked up and down and at last said to himself, “He’s a tough
son-of-a-gun outside and I’ll bet he’s got a strong heart, I’ll bet he’s
strong as a copper-riveted boiler inside.”

They didn’t put up any arguments.
They didn’t throw anything in each other’s faces.
Three men saw the elephant three ways
And let it go at that.
They didn’t spoil a sunny Sunday afternoon;

“Sunday comes only once a week,” they told each other.

19 July 2008 | 17:31 | No Comments

Baltasar Gracian

Good things, when short, are twice as good.

18 July 2008 | 18:10 | No Comments

D H Lawrence

Oh, words are action good enough, if they’re the right words.

17 July 2008 | 21:26 | No Comments

William Blake

If you trap the moment before it is ripe
The tears of repentance will certainly wipe
But if once you let the ripe moment go
You can never wipe off the tears of woe.

17 July 2008 | 19:50 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

A stiff apology is a second insult… The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt.

15 July 2008 | 13:12 | No Comments

H M Tomlinson

“Almost any book does for a bed-book,” a woman once said to me. I nearlly replied in a hurry that almost any woman would do for a wife; but that is not the way to bring people to conviction of sin.

14 July 2008 | 14:08 | No Comments

Richard Rumbold

I never could believe that Providence had sent a few men into the world, ready booted and spurred to ride, and millions ready saddled and bridled to be ridden.

13 July 2008 | 19:41 | No Comments

Sir Walter Ralegh

Sir Walter Ralegh To His Son

Three things there be that prosper up apace,
And flourish while they grow asunder far;
But on a day, they meet all in a place,
And when they meet, they one another mar.

And they be these: the Wood, the Weed, the Wag:
The Wood is that that makes the gallows tree;
The Weed is that that strings the hangman’s bag;
The Wag, my pretty knave, betokens thee.

Now mark, dear boy – while these assemble not,
Green springs the tree, hemp grows, the wag is wild;
But when they meet, it makes the timber rot,
It frets the halter, and it chokes the child.
Then bless thee, and beware, and let us pray,
We part not with thee at this meeting day.

12 July 2008 | 16:33 | No Comments

A A Milne

The more he looked inside the more Piglet wasn’t there.

11 July 2008 | 7:17 | No Comments

Cyril Connolly

There are many who dare not kill themselves for fear of what the neighbors will say.

10 July 2008 | 14:40 | No Comments

Ogden Nash

The Octopus

Tell me, O Octopus, I begs
Is those things arms, or is they legs?
I marvel at thee, Octopus;
If I were thou, I’d call me Us.

9 July 2008 | 7:10 | No Comments

George Norman Douglas

It seldom pays to be rude. It never pays to be only half-rude.

8 July 2008 | 12:36 | No Comments

Billy Collins


All we need is fourteen lines, well, thirteen now,
and after this one just a dozen
to launch a little ship on love’s storm-tossed seas,
then only ten more left like rows of beans.
How easily it goes unless you get Elizabethan
and insist the iambic bongos must be played
and rhymes positioned at the ends of lines,
one for every station of the cross.
But hang on here wile we make the turn
into the final six where all will be resolved,
where longing and heartache will find an end,
where Laura will tell Petrarch to put down his pen,
take off those crazy medieval tights,
blow out the lights, and come at last to bed.

7 July 2008 | 12:31 | No Comments

Karl Popper

We may become the makers of our fate when we have ceased to pose as its prophets.

3 July 2008 | 20:15 | No Comments

The Frog

What a wonderful bird the frog are!
When he stand he sit almost;
When he hop he fly almost.
He ain’t got no sense hardly;
He ain’t got no tail hardly either.
When he sit, he sit on what he ain’t got almost.

2 July 2008 | 20:22 | No Comments

Letter to the Editor

(to the Times)

Sir, I see that every Christmas Handel gave “live” performances of his Messiah (The Register October 16). But then he would, wouldn’t he?

Yours faithfully

E W Lighton
Crewe, October 16

1 July 2008 | 6:49 | No Comments

Christoher Morely

There are some knightly souls who even go so far as to make their visits to bookshops a kind of chivalrous errantry at large. They go in not because they need any certain volume, but because they feel that there may be some book that needs them. Some wistful, little forgotten sheaf of loveliness, long pining away on an upper shelf….

30 June 2008 | 7:01 | No Comments

Edward Thomas

The New House

Now first, as I shut the door,
I was alone
In the new house; and the wind
Began to moan.

Old at once was the house,
And I was old;
My ears were teased with the dread
Of what was foretold,

Nights of storm, days of mist, without end;
Sad days when the sun
Shone in vain: old griefs and griefs
Not yet begun.

All was foretold me; naught
Could I foresee;
But I learned how the wind would sound
After these things should be.

29 June 2008 | 7:30 | No Comments

Oliver Herford

Tact is to lie about others as you would have them lie about you.

28 June 2008 | 19:54 | No Comments

W H Auden

Music is the best means we have of digesting time.

26 June 2008 | 21:02 | No Comments

Sophie Hannah

Trainers All Turn Grey
(after Robert Frost’s ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’)

You buy your trainers new.
They cost a bob or two.
At first they’re clean and white,
The laces thick and tight.
Then they must touch the ground –
(You have to walk around).
You learn to your dismay
Trainers all turn grey.

25 June 2008 | 21:21 | No Comments

P G Woodhouse

It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine.

24 June 2008 | 22:47 | No Comments

Emily Dickinson

Luck is not chance, it’s toil; fortune’s expensive smile is earned.

23 June 2008 | 21:47 | No Comments

Boris Johnson

The source, my friends of half life’s trouble
Is seeking reputation’s bubble,
And though the kids were not ambitious –
Their beds were soft, their food delicious –
Their lives were not entirely cushy:
Their parents were so very pushy.

from “The Peril of the Pushy Parents”

22 June 2008 | 22:34 | No Comments

Alan Turing

In any sufficiently powerful logical system statements can be formulated which can neither be proved nor disproved within the system, unless possibly the system itself is inconsistent.

Turing’s restatement of Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem.

20 June 2008 | 7:29 | No Comments

Mark Twain

Habit is habit, and not to be flung out the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.

19 June 2008 | 19:06 | No Comments

Cyril Connolly

Whom the gods wish to destroy they first call promising.

18 June 2008 | 16:44 | No Comments

Black and Decker

Our users don’t want quarter-inch drills, they want quarter inch holes.

17 June 2008 | 21:38 | 1 Comment

Douglas Adams

“What was the Sherlock Holmes principle? ‘Once you have discounted the impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.'”

“I reject that entirely,” said Dirk sharply. “The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it which the merely improbable lacks. How often have you been presented with an apparently rational explanation of something that works in all respects other than one, which is just that it is hopelessly improbable? Your instinct is to say, ‘Yes, but he or she simply wouldn’t do that.'”

“Well, it happened to me today, in fact,” replied Kate.

“Ah, yes,” said Dirk, slapping the table and making the glasses jump. “Your girl in the wheelchair — a perfect example. The idea that she is somehow receiving yesterday’s stock market prices apparently out of thin air is merely impossible, and therefore must be the case, because the idea that she is maintaining an immensely complex and laborious hoax of no benefit to herself is hopelessly improbable. The first idea merely supposes that there is something we don’t know about, and God knows there are enough of those. The second, however, runs contrary to something fundamental and human which we do know about. We should therefore be very suspicious of it and all its specious rationality.”

16 June 2008 | 12:21 | No Comments

Nautical Adage

A collision at sea can ruin your entire day

15 June 2008 | 13:39 | No Comments

Percy Bysshe Shelley

A Dirge

Rough wind, that moanest loud
grief too sad for a song;
wild wind, when sullen cloud
knells all the night long:
sad storm, whose tear are vain,
bare woods, whose branches strain,
deep caves and dreary main,
wail for the worlds wrong.

14 June 2008 | 22:15 | No Comments

Robert Frost

The best way out is always through.

13 June 2008 | 22:28 | No Comments

H L Mencken

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.

12 June 2008 | 21:55 | No Comments

Hovis Presley

I rely on you

I rely on you
like a Skoda needs suspension
like the aged need a pension
like a trampoline needs tension
like a bungee jump needs apprehension
I rely on you
like a camera needs a shutter
like a gambler needs a flutter
like a golfer needs a putter
like a buttered scone involves some butter
I rely on you
like an acrobat needs ice cool nerve
like a hairpin needs a drastic curve
like an HGV needs endless derv
like an outside left needs a body swerve
I rely on you
like a handyman needs pliers
like an auctioneer needs buyers
like a laundromat needs driers
like The Good Life needed Richard Briers
I rely on you
like a water vole needs water
like a brick outhouse needs mortar
like a lemming to the slaughter
Ryan’s just Ryan without his daughter
I rely on you

11 June 2008 | 8:28 | No Comments

F Scott Fitzgerald

An unread book is just a block of paper.

10 June 2008 | 19:01 | No Comments

Henry David Thoreau

It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support. If I devote myself to other pursuits and contemplations, I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue them sitting upon another man’s shoulders

9 June 2008 | 6:31 | No Comments

Robert Fulghum

The devil made me do it the first time, and after that I did it on my own.

5 June 2008 | 13:35 | No Comments

Hilaire Belloc


When I am dead i hope that it may be said
“His sins were scarlet, but his books were read”

4 June 2008 | 8:08 | No Comments

Oscar Wilde

of George Meredith

His style is chaos illumined by flashes of lightning. As a writer he has mastered everything except language.

2 June 2008 | 21:11 | No Comments


It is reason and wisdom which takes away cares, not places affording wide views over the sea.

1 June 2008 | 21:12 | No Comments

George Herbert

The World

Love built a stately house, where Fortune came,
And spinning fancies, she was heard to say
That her fine cobwebs did support the frame,
Whereas they were supported by the same;
But Wisdom quickly swept them all away.

The Pleasure came, who, liking not the fashion,
Began to make balconies, terraces,
Till she had weakened all by alteration;
But reverend laws, and many a proclamation
Reformed all at length with menaces.

Then entered Sin, and with that sycamore
Whose leaves first sheltered man from drought and dew,
Working and winding slily evermore,
The inward walls and summers cleft and tore;
But Grace shored these, and cut that as it grew.

Then Sin combined with death in a firm band,
To raze the building to the very floor;
Which they effected, – none could them withstand;
But Love and Grace took Glory by the hand,
And built a braver palace than before.

31 May 2008 | 14:21 | No Comments

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway was bet $10 that he could not write a story in six words. He won the bet with the following:

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

30 May 2008 | 17:32 | No Comments

Chris Mullin MP

Chris Mullin noticed the following hand written note on an invitation to and event that he was attending….

“This is a very low priority. I suggest we pass it to Chris Mullin”

29 May 2008 | 5:14 | No Comments

Lewis F Richardson

Big Whorls Have Little Whorls

Big whorls have little whorls
That feed on their velocity,
And little whorls have lesser whorls
And so on to viscosity.

This poem summarises Richardson’s 1920 paper ‘The supply of energy from and to Atmospheric Eddies’

28 May 2008 | 18:04 | No Comments

W H Auden

A professor is one who talks in someone else’s sleep.

27 May 2008 | 6:34 | No Comments

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Life is painting a picture, not doing a sum.

26 May 2008 | 12:11 | No Comments

Theodore Zeldin

All invention and progress comes from finding a link between two ideas that have never met.

25 May 2008 | 8:01 | No Comments

W H Auden

The Unknown Citizen

He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
One against whom there was no official complaint,
And all the reports on his conduct agree
That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a saint,
For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.
Except for the War till the day he retired
He worked in a factory and never got fired,
But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
Yet he wasn’t a scab or odd in his views,
For his Union reports that he paid his dues,
(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)
And our Social Psychology workers found
That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.
The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day
And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.
Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,
And his Health-card shows he was once in hospital but left it cured.
Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare
He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Installment Plan
And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,
A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.
Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for he time of year;
When there was peace, he was for peace; when there was war, he went.
He was married and added five children to the population,
Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his generation.
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their education.
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.

24 May 2008 | 11:59 | No Comments

Robert Brownjohn


div id ing

24 May 2008 | 11:50 | No Comments

Henri Matisse

A lady visited Matisse in his studio. Inspecting one of his latest works she unwisely said: “But surely the arm of this woman is much too long”; “Madame,” the artist replied, “you are mistaken. This is not a woman, this is a picture.”

24 May 2008 | 11:43 | No Comments

Oliver Hereford

G K Chesterton

When Plain Folk, such as you or I,
See the Sun sinking in the sky,
We think it is the Setting Sun,
But Mr. Gilbert Chesterton
Is not so easily misled.
He calmly stands upon his head,
And upside down obtains a new
And Chestertonian point of view,
Observing thus, how from his toes
The sun creeps nearer to his nose,
He cries with wonder and delight,
“How Grand the SUNRISE is to-night!”

21 May 2008 | 7:49 | No Comments

Carl Sandburg

Nothing happens unless first a dream.

20 May 2008 | 21:25 | No Comments

John Greenleaf Whittier

Beauty seen is never lost
God’s colours all are fast

19 May 2008 | 19:53 | No Comments

On sailing to the west indies

South till the butter melts, and then due West.

16th Century navigational saying

19 May 2008 | 17:40 | No Comments

Philip Larkin


Strange to know nothing, never to be sure
Of what is true or right or real,
But forced to qualify or so I feel,
Or Well, it does seem so:
Someone must know.

Strange to be ignorant of the way things work:
Their skill at finding what they need,
Their sense of shape, and punctual spread of seed,
And willingness to change;
Yes, it is strange,

Even to wear such knowledge – for our flesh
Surrounds us with its own decisions –
And yet spend all our life on imprecisions,
That when we start to die
Have no idea why.

17 May 2008 | 17:30 | No Comments

T E Lawrence

To have news value is to have a tin can tied to one’s tail.

16 May 2008 | 19:40 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

15 May 2008 | 21:52 | No Comments

Ezra Pound

In a Station of the Metro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

14 May 2008 | 18:39 | No Comments

Oliver Herford

A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame and money, but even… without any hope of doing it well.

13 May 2008 | 18:29 | No Comments

Benjamin Disraeli

The most dangerous strategy is to jump a chasm in two leaps.

12 May 2008 | 21:06 | No Comments

Richard Feynman

It does not do harm to the mystery to know a little more about it.

11 May 2008 | 22:19 | No Comments

Stephen Crane

I Met a Seer

I met a seer.
He held in his hands
The book of wisdom.
“Sir,” I addressed him,
“Let me read.”
“Child — ” he began.
“Sir,” I said,
“Think not that I am a child,
For already I know much
Of that which you hold.
Aye, much.”

He smiled.
Then he opened the book
And held it before me. —
Strange that I should have grown so suddenly blind.

10 May 2008 | 12:35 | No Comments

Arthur Schopenhauer

Buying books would be a good thing if one could also buy the time to read them in: but as a rule the purchase of books is mistaken for the appropriation of their contents.

9 May 2008 | 7:01 | No Comments

Edmund Conti


I think there
four a.m.

7 May 2008 | 22:03 | No Comments

Sylvia Plath

I should sugar and preserve my days like fruit!

last words

6 May 2008 | 17:35 | No Comments

Don Paterson

Fate’s book, but my italics.

5 May 2008 | 7:29 | No Comments

William Blake

He who desires, but acts not, breeds pestilence.

4 May 2008 | 17:56 | No Comments

Thomas Hardy

A Thunderstorm in Town

She wore a ‘terra-cotta’ dress,
And we stayed, because of the pelting storm,
Within the hansom’s dry recess,
Though the horse had stopped; yea, motionless
We sat on, snug and warm.

Then the downpour ceased, to my sharp sad pain,
And the glass that had screened our forms before
Flew up, and out she sprang to her door:
I should have kissed her if the rain
Had lasted a minute more.

3 May 2008 | 19:02 | No Comments


The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.

3 May 2008 | 18:59 | No Comments

W H Auden

When I find myself in the company of scientists, I feel like a shabby curate who has strayed by mistake into a room full of dukes.

1 May 2008 | 21:55 | No Comments

Strickland Gillilan


Had ’em.

originally entitled “Lines on the Antiquity of Microbes”

30 April 2008 | 22:42 | No Comments

John F Kennedy

At a dinner for 49 Nobel Laureates (being all the then living laureates from the western hemisphere) at the White House in 1962

I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.

29 April 2008 | 19:31 | No Comments

Stephen Crane

A singular disadvantage of the sea lies in the fact that after successfully surmounting one wave you discover that there is another behind it just as important and just as nervously anxious to do something effective in the way of swamping boats.

28 April 2008 | 19:38 | No Comments

Humphrey Lyttleton

Hello and welcome to I’m sorry I haven’t a clue. You join us this week in Manchester, the fine metropolis boasting a wealth of culture and history. As the epicentre of the industrial revolution, it was here that a phrase was coined that has survived to this day. “What happens in Manchester today, happens in the rest of the world tomorrow”.

So if you’re listening rest-of-the-world, tomorrow it’s going to drizzle.

27 April 2008 | 21:27 | No Comments

W B Yeats

When You are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

27 April 2008 | 20:53 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

Misers get up early in the morning; and burglars, I am informed, get up the night before.

25 April 2008 | 18:10 | No Comments


No enemy is worse than bad advice.

24 April 2008 | 6:32 | No Comments

Bernard Lamb

There was a Neanderthal man
Who found that is grunts didn’t scan
This hearty meat-eater
Invented the metre
To prove that it certainly can

23 April 2008 | 18:10 | No Comments

Jane Austen

The trees, though not fully clothed, were in that delightful state, when further beauty is known to be at hand, and when, while much is actually given to the sight, more yet remains for the imagination.

22 April 2008 | 7:16 | No Comments

Joseph Wood Krutch

Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want.

21 April 2008 | 15:25 | No Comments

Oliver Herford

She has a whim of iron

20 April 2008 | 18:36 | No Comments

William Shakespeare

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

20 April 2008 | 18:35 | No Comments

Leigh Hunt

…but for the study itself, give me a small snug place, almost entirely walled with books. There should be only one window in it, looking upon trees.

18 April 2008 | 19:40 | No Comments

John O’Farrell

I blame the scapegoats.

17 April 2008 | 7:00 | No Comments

Shel Silverstein

I know you little, I love you lots,
my love for you could fill ten pots,
fifteen buckets, sixteen cans,
three teacups, and four dishpans.

16 April 2008 | 6:09 | No Comments

James Parton

At 32 Thomas Jefferson could calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a cause, break a horse, dance a minuet, and play the violin.

15 April 2008 | 6:14 | No Comments

Christopher Fry

I travel light; as light,
That is, as a man can travel who will
Still carry his body around because
Of its sentimental value.

14 April 2008 | 8:38 | No Comments

Wallace Stevens

Style is not something applied. It is something that permeates. It is of the nature of that in which it is found, whether the poem, the manner of a god, the bearing of a man. It is not a dress.

13 April 2008 | 9:57 | No Comments

Francis Thompson

Mistress of Vision

All things by immortal power,
Near or far, Hiddenly
To each other linked are,
That thou canst not stir a flower
Without troubling of a star.

12 April 2008 | 21:35 | No Comments

George Meredith

Kissing don’t last: cookery do!

11 April 2008 | 6:25 | No Comments

Noam Chomsky

Colourless green ideas sleep furiously

10 April 2008 | 17:38 | No Comments

John Hegley

Uncle and Auntie

my auntie gave me a colouring book and crayons
I begin to colour
after a while auntie leans over and says
you’ve gone over the lines
what do you think they’re there for
some kind of statement is it?
going to be a rebel are we?
your auntie gives you a lovely present
and you have to go and ruin it
I begin to cry
my uncle gives me a hanky and some blank paper
do some doggies of your own he says
I begin to colour
when I have done
he looks over
and says they are all very good
he is lying
only some of them are

9 April 2008 | 17:23 | No Comments

Jonathon Swift

Very few men, properly speaking, live at present, but are providing to live another time.

7 April 2008 | 17:45 | No Comments

Robert Browning

Song, from Pippa Passes

The year’s at the spring,
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hill-side’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in his Heaven –
All’s right with the world!

5 April 2008 | 21:31 | No Comments

Ambrose Bierce

History is an account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.

3 April 2008 | 21:30 | No Comments

Sara Teasdale


I went out on an April morning
All alone, for my heart was high,
I was a child of the shining meadow,
I was a sister of the sky.

There in the windy flood of morning
Longing lifted its weight from me,
Lost as a sob in the midst of cheering,
Swept as a sea-bird out to sea.

2 April 2008 | 7:09 | No Comments

C S Lewis

In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the gelding be fruitful.

1 April 2008 | 22:19 | No Comments

Don Paterson

Here is a very bad aphorism for the purpose of illustrative quotation.

31 March 2008 | 20:07 | No Comments

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

Fear not those who argue but those who dodge.

30 March 2008 | 20:44 | No Comments

Rudyard Kipling

The Anvil

England’s on the anvil — hear the hammers ring —
Clanging from the Severn to the Tyne!
Never was a blacksmith like our Norman King —
England’s being hammered, hammered, hammered into line.

England’s on the anvil! Heavy are the blows!
(But the work will be a marvel when it’s done.)
Little bits of Kingdoms cannot stand against their foes.
England’s being hammered, hammered, hammered into one!

There shall be one people — it shall serve one Lord —
(Neither Priest nor Baron shall escape!)
It shall have one speech and law, soul and strength and sword.
England’s being hammered, hammered, hammered into shape!

29 March 2008 | 20:48 | No Comments

James Joyce

Mistakes are the portals of discovery.

28 March 2008 | 21:54 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of ‘touching’ a man’s heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it.

27 March 2008 | 23:13 | No Comments


Sir. I bear a rhyme excelling
In mystic force and magic spelling.


26 March 2008 | 19:27 | No Comments

Sir Alec Douglas Home

My wife had an uncle who could never walk down the nave of an abbey without wondering whether it would take spin.

25 March 2008 | 23:07 | No Comments

Lewis Mumford

Every generation revolts against its fathers and makes friends with its grandfathers.

24 March 2008 | 22:45 | No Comments

Adam Smith

How many people ruin themselves by laying out money on trinkets of frivolous utility? What pleases these lovers of toys is not so much the utility, as the aptness of the machines which are fitted to promote it. All their pockets are stuffed with little conveniences. They contrive new pockets, unknown in the clothes of other people, in order to carry a greater number. They walk about loaded with a multitude of baubles, in weight and sometimes in value not inferior to an ordinary Jew’s-box, some of which may sometimes be of some little use, but all of which might at all times be very well spared, and of which the whole utility is certainly not worth the fatigue of bearing the burden.

21 March 2008 | 17:33 | No Comments

J K Galbraith

Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists.

20 March 2008 | 20:35 | No Comments

Ogden Nash

The turtle lives twixt plated decks
Which practically conceal its sex.
I think it clever of the turtle,
In such a fix to be so fertile.

19 March 2008 | 9:25 | No Comments

George E P Box

Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.

18 March 2008 | 7:46 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

My attitude toward progress has passed from antagonism to boredom. I have long ceased to argue with people who prefer Thursday to Wednesday because it is Thursday.

17 March 2008 | 12:26 | No Comments

Leopold Kronecker

God made the integers, all the rest is the work of man.

16 March 2008 | 22:45 | No Comments

Kenneth Grahame

Mr Toad

The world has held great Heroes,
As history-books have showed;
But never a name to go down to fame
Compared with that of Toad!

The clever men at Oxford
Know all that there is to be knowed.
But they none of them know one half as much
As intelligent Mr Toad!

The animals sat in the Ark and cried,
Their tears in torrents flowed.
Who was it said, “There’s land ahead”?
Encouraging Mr Toad!

The army all saluted
As they marched along the road.
Was it the King? Or Kitchener?
No. It was Mr Toad.

The Queen and her Ladies-in-waiting
Sat at the window and sewed.
She cried, “Look! Who’s that HANDSOME man?”
They answered, “Mr Toad.”

15 March 2008 | 19:16 | No Comments

Albert Einstein

Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing that people do – but gravitation cannot be held responsible for it.

14 March 2008 | 21:21 | No Comments

George Macdonald

You can’t live on amusement. It is the froth on water – an inch deep and then the mud.

13 March 2008 | 8:40 | No Comments

Arthur Bryant

And so while the great ones depart to their dinner,
the secretary stays, growing thinner and thinner,
racking his brain to record and report
what he thinks that they think that they ought to have thought.

12 March 2008 | 13:44 | No Comments

E E Cummings

The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.

11 March 2008 | 7:36 | No Comments

Hugh Walpole

In all science, error precedes the truth, and it is better it should go first than last.

10 March 2008 | 7:30 | No Comments

Cormac McCarthy

Just remember that the things that you put in our head are there forever, … You might want to think about that.

9 March 2008 | 19:08 | No Comments

London Bells

Two sticks and an apple,
Ring the bells at Whitechapel.

Old Father Bald Pate,
Ring the bells Aldgate.

Maids in white aprons,
Ring the bells at St. Catherine`s.

Oranges and Lemons,
Ring the bells at St. Clement`s

When will you pay me?
Ring the bells at the Old Bailey.

When I am rich,
Ring the bells at Fleetditch.

When will that be?
Ring the bells of Stepney.

When I am old,
Ring the great bell at Paul`s.

8 March 2008 | 20:29 | No Comments

An ill wind…

The Viking Terror

Bitter is the wind tonight.
It tosses the ocean’s white hair.
Tonight I fear not the fierce warriors of Norway
Coursing on the Irish Sea.

7 March 2008 | 21:13 | No Comments

Dylan Thomas

To begin at the beginning:

It is Spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters’-and- rabbits’ wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea. The houses are blind as moles (though moles see fine to-night in the snouting, velvet dingles) or blind as Captain Cat there in the muffled middle by the pump and the town clock, the shops in mourning, the Welfare Hall in widows’ weeds. And all the people of the lulled and dumbfound town are sleeping now.

the opening lines from Under Milk Wood

6 March 2008 | 8:05 | No Comments

Sylvia Fine

Pa was forced to be a hobo
Because he played the oboe
And the oboe it is clearly understood
Is an ill wind that nobody blows good

5 March 2008 | 6:52 | No Comments

Fred Trueman

We didn’t have metaphors in our day. We didn’t beat about the bush.

4 March 2008 | 19:26 | No Comments

John Chesson

An intellectual is someone who can listen to the “William Tell Overture” without thinking of the Lone Ranger.

3 March 2008 | 8:26 | No Comments

Stephen Jay Gould

In science, “fact” can only mean “confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.”

2 March 2008 | 10:38 | No Comments

William Butler Yeats

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

1 March 2008 | 17:02 | No Comments

Konrad Adenauer

History is the sum total of things that could have been avoided.

28 February 2008 | 12:36 | No Comments

Simon Goodway


I don’t know what the fuss is,
Cooking’s easy if you try.
Just take two octopusses
And you’ve got an octopi.

27 February 2008 | 14:36 | No Comments

Douglas Adams

…Sir Isaac Newton, renowned inventor of the milled-edge coin and the catflap!” “The what?” said Richard. “That catflap! A device of the utmost cunning, perspicuity and invention. It is a door within a door, you see, a …” “Yes,” said Richard, “there was also the small matter of gravity.” “Gravity,” said Dirk with a slightly dismissed shrug, “yes, there was that as well, I suppose. Though that, of course, was merely a discovery. It was there to be discovered.” … “You see?” he said dropping his cigarette butt, “They even keep it on at weekends. Someone was bound to notice sooner or later. But the catflap … ah, there is a very different matter. Invention, pure creative invention. It is a door within a door, you see.”

26 February 2008 | 11:23 | No Comments

Tennessee Williams

Success is blocked by concentrating on it and planning for it…
Success is shy – it won’t come out while you’re watching.

25 February 2008 | 14:38 | No Comments

H L Mencken

When A annoys or injures B on the pretense of saving or improving X, A is a scoundrel.

24 February 2008 | 11:39 | No Comments

James Montgomery

Here is the body pent
Absent from him I roam
Yet nightly pitch my moving tent
A day’s march nearer home

23 February 2008 | 19:23 | No Comments

Bill Bryson

Blackpool is nothing if not magnificent, and it is not magnificent.

22 February 2008 | 14:41 | No Comments

G H Hardy

It is never worth a first class man’s time to express a majority opinion. By definition, there are plenty of others to do that.

21 February 2008 | 11:23 | No Comments


Mathematical Problem

Whilst making love a necklace broke.
A row of pearls mislaid.
One sixth fell to the floor.
One fifth upon the bed.
The young woman saved one third of them.
One tenth were caught by her lover.
If six pearls remained upon the string
How many pearls were there altogether?

20 February 2008 | 12:12 | No Comments


The present life of man, O king, seems to me, in comparison of that time which is unknown to us, like to the swift flight of a sparrow through the room wherein you sit at supper in winter, with your commanders and ministers, and a good fire in the midst, whilst the storms of rain and snow prevail abroad; the sparrow, I say, flying in at one door, and immediately out at another, whilst he is within, is safe from the wintry storm; but after a short space of fair weather, he immediately vanishes out of your sight, into the dark winter from which he had emerged. So this life of man appears for a short space, but of what went before, or what is to follow, we are utterly ignorant. If, therefore, this new doctrine contains something more certain, it seems justly to deserve to be followed.

Advice Bede says was given to King Edwin

19 February 2008 | 23:21 | No Comments

Roger Bacon

There are in fact four very different stumbling blocks in the way of grasping the truth, which hinder every man however learned, and scarcely allow anyone to win a clear title to wisdom, namely, the example of weak and unworthy authority, longstanding custom, the feeling of the ignorant crowd, and the hiding of our own ignorance while making a display of our apparent knowledge.

17 February 2008 | 20:26 | No Comments

J B S Haldane

An inordinate fondness for beetles

In reply to the question what he believed could concluded from his study of the natural world as to the nature of the creator

17 February 2008 | 19:08 | No Comments

Carlos Castaneda

It is important to do what you don’t know how to do. It is important to see your skills as keeping you from learning what is deepest and most mysterious. If you know how to focus, unfocus. If your tendency is to make sense out of chaos, start chaos.

15 February 2008 | 9:21 | No Comments

John Fuller

Two Voices

Love is a large hope in what,
Unfound, imaginary, leaves us
With a beautifying presence.
Love always grieves us.’

So sang youth to the consenting air
While age in deathly silence, thus:

‘Love is a regret for what,
Lost or never was, assails us
With a beautifying presence.
Love never fails us.’

9 February 2008 | 19:32 | No Comments

Frank Lloyd Wright

Many wealthy people are little more than janitors of their possessions.

8 February 2008 | 20:47 | No Comments

Frank Lloyd Wright

Many wealthy people are little more than janitors of their possessions.

8 February 2008 | 20:47 | No Comments

Lieutenant General Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller

So they’ve got us surrounded, good! Now we can fire in any direction, those bastards won’t get away this time!

7 February 2008 | 7:42 | No Comments

Lieutenant General Lewis Burwell Chesty Puller

So they’ve got us surrounded, good! Now we can fire in any direction, those bastards won’t get away this time!

7 February 2008 | 7:42 | No Comments

Shel Silverstein

It’s Dark in Here I am writing these poems From inside a lion, And it’s rather dark in here. So please excuse the handwriting Which may not be too clear. But this afternoon by the lion’s cage I’m afraid I got too near. And I’m writing these lines From inside a lion, And it’s rather dark in here.

6 February 2008 | 17:16 | No Comments

Thomas Berger

Why do writers write? Because it isn’t there.

6 February 2008 | 17:04 | No Comments

Richard Feynman

On the infrequent occasions when I have been called upon in a formal place to play the bongo drums, the introducer never seems to find it necessary to mention that I also do theoretical physics Statement after an introduction to theoretical physicists mentioning that he played bongo drums

5 February 2008 | 22:19 | No Comments

John Robert Colombo

Canada could have enjoyed: English government, French culture, And American know-how. Instead it ended up with: English know-how, French government, And American culture.

4 February 2008 | 16:55 | No Comments

Rudyard Kipling

Night-Song in the Jungle Now Chil the Kite brings home the night That Mang the Bat sets free. The herds are shut in byre and hut – For loosed till dawn are we. This is the hour of pride and power, Talon and tush and claw. O hear the call! Good Hunting, All That keep the Jungle Law!

2 February 2008 | 21:11 | No Comments

P G Wodehouse

of a character who is suffering from a hangover … the noise of the cat stamping about in the passage outside caused him exquisite discomfort.

2 February 2008 | 14:34 | No Comments

John Dretschmer

Upon the plains of hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions, who when on the dawn of victory paused to rest, and there resting died.

1 February 2008 | 19:16 | No Comments

Ogden Nash

The Purist

I give you now Professor Twist,
A conscientious scientist,
Trustees exclaimed, “He never bungles!”
And sent him off to distant jungles.
Camped on a tropic riverside,
One day he missed his loving bride.
She had, the guide informed him later,
Been eaten by an alligator.
Professor Twist could not but smile.
“You mean,” he said, “a crocodile.”

30 January 2008 | 22:16 | No Comments

Friedrich Nietzsche

He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.

28 January 2008 | 14:55 | No Comments

William Blake

The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.

27 January 2008 | 9:12 | No Comments

Ben Jonson

The Noble Nature It is not growing like a tree In bulk, doth make man better be; Or standing long an oak, three hundred year, To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere: A lily of a day Is fairer far in May, Although it fall and die that night — It was the plant and flower of Light. In small proportions we just beauties see; And in short measures life may perfect be.

26 January 2008 | 20:25 | No Comments

Georgia O’Keeffe

To make your unknown known – that is the important thing.

26 January 2008 | 16:06 | No Comments


Landscape: I

(for thomas a. clark)


23 January 2008 | 6:52 | No Comments

G H Hardy

Archimedes will be remembered when Aeschylus is forgotten, because languages die and mathematical ideas do not. “Immortality” may be a silly word, but probably a mathematician has the best chance of whatever it may mean.

22 January 2008 | 20:48 | No Comments

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.

21 January 2008 | 19:39 | No Comments

E E Cummings

Better worlds (I suggest) are born, not made; and their birthdays are the birthdays of individuals. Let us pray always for individuals; never for worlds.

20 January 2008 | 11:39 | No Comments

Malcolm Muggeridge

There is no such thing as darkness; only a failure to see.

18 January 2008 | 23:37 | No Comments

Ogden Nash

Samson Agonistes: I test my bath before I sit, And I’m always moved to wonderment That what chills the finger not a bit Is so frigid upon the fundament.

17 January 2008 | 22:37 | No Comments

William Blake

Nothing can be more contemptible than to suppose Public RECORDS to be True.

16 January 2008 | 12:28 | No Comments

Don Patterson

Writers can redeem a wasted day in two minutes; alas this knowledge leads them to waste their days like no one else.

15 January 2008 | 12:51 | No Comments

T S Eliot

It will do you no harm to find yourself ridiculous. Resign yourself to be the fool you are.

13 January 2008 | 17:51 | No Comments

Robert Hayman

Owen’s Bracelt

Our senses, without reason, are naught worth;
Nor reason, unless faith do set it forth:
Neither is faith without love to be deemed,
Nor is love without God to be esteemed.

12 January 2008 | 21:29 | No Comments

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

There Was a Little Girl There was a little girl, Who had a little curl, Right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good, She was very good indeed, But when she was bad she was horrid.

9 January 2008 | 8:03 | No Comments

Carl Sandburg

There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.

8 January 2008 | 6:51 | No Comments

Robert A. Heinlein

You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity.

6 January 2008 | 21:05 | No Comments

R S Thomas

The first king was on horseback The second was a pillion rider. The third came by plane. Where was the god-child? He was in the manger With the beasts, all looking The other way where the fourth Was a slow dawning because Wisdom must come on foot.

5 January 2008 | 10:31 | No Comments

Clifton Fadiman

To divide one’s life by years is of course to tumble into a trap set by our own arithmetic. The calendar consents to carry on its dull wall-existence by the arbitrary timetables we have drawn up in consultation with those permanent commuters, Earth and Sun. But we, unlike trees, need grow no annual rings.

5 January 2008 | 9:00 | No Comments

Piet Hein

T. T. T. Put up in a place where it’s easy to see the cryptic admonishment T. T. T. When you feel how depressingly slowly you climb, it’s well to remember that Things Take Time.

2 January 2008 | 7:48 | No Comments

Christopher Morley

It’s a good thing to turn your mind upside down now and then, like an hour-glass, to let the particles run the other way.

1 January 2008 | 19:28 | No Comments

Frank Tyger

Opportunity’s favourite disguise is trouble.

31 December 2007 | 10:21 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

The doctrine of human equality reposes on this: that there is no man really clever who has not found that he is stupid.

30 December 2007 | 20:53 | No Comments

William Butler Yeats

He Hears The Cry Of The Sedge

I wander by the edge Of this desolate lake
Where wind cries in the sedge:
Until the axle break
That keeps the stars in their round,
And hands hurl in the deep
The banners of East and West,
And the girdle of light is unhound,
Your breast will not lie by the breast
Of your beloved in sleep.

29 December 2007 | 8:32 | No Comments

Dag Hammarskjold

There is a point at which everything becomes simple and there is no longer any question of choice, because all you have staked will be lost if you look back. Life’s point of no return.

28 December 2007 | 21:13 | No Comments

Ambrose Bierce

Edible – good to eat and wholesome to digest, as a worm to a toad, a toad to a snake, a snake to a pig, a pig to a man, and a man to a worm.

27 December 2007 | 21:36 | No Comments

William Blake

He who would do good to another must do it in the Minute Particular. General good is the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite and flatterer.

26 December 2007 | 19:57 | No Comments

Freda Downie


Three kings embark on a long journey
Under the dry acres of the moon
Whose light is well disposed,
But of no special significance
It is the nailhead light
Of one sparky planet
That draws them on –
Although at times,
One king thinks the star
Has the look of crayon
Drawn on dark paper;
While another thinks it
Looks no more than a sliver
Of silver pasted on indigo;
And the third king, observing
A certain unsteadiness,
Thinks the heavenly guide
Trembles on its cotton thread

25 December 2007 | 16:23 | No Comments

Thomas Carlyle

Give me a man who sings at his work.

24 December 2007 | 21:10 | No Comments

Albert Camus

Life is the sum of your choices.

24 December 2007 | 20:47 | No Comments

Muriel Rukeyser

The universe is made of stories, not atoms.

23 December 2007 | 10:18 | No Comments

U A Fanthorpe


This was the moment when Before
Turned into After, and the future’s
Uninvented timekeepers presented arms.
This was the moment when nothing
Happened. Only dull peace
Sprawled boringly over the earth.
This was the moment when even energetic Romans
Could find nothing better to do
Than counting heads in remote provinces.
And this was the moment
When a few farm workers and three
Members of an obscure Persian sect
Walked haphazard by starlight straight
Into the kingdom of heaven.

23 December 2007 | 0:07 | No Comments

Christopher Morley

It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity.

20 December 2007 | 22:48 | No Comments

Dale E Turner

It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them. To make a mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows infirmity of character.

17 December 2007 | 21:07 | No Comments

Julian Barnes.

I don’t like to cross dead people out of my address book. I put them in square brackets.

16 December 2007 | 23:00 | No Comments


Star of my life, to the stars your face is turned;
Would I were the heavens, looking back at you with ten thousand eyes.

15 December 2007 | 19:57 | No Comments

Clifton Fadiman

A cheese may disappoint. It may be dull, it may be naive, it may be oversophisticated. Yet it remains cheese, milk’s leap toward immortality.

14 December 2007 | 9:43 | No Comments


A Good Poem

A good poem is like finding a hole
in the palace
never know what you

12 December 2007 | 14:43 | No Comments

Jorge Luis Borges

Being with you and not being with you is the only way I have to measure time.

10 December 2007 | 21:10 | No Comments

Thomas Carlyle

Happy the people whose annals are blank in the history books!

9 December 2007 | 18:57 | No Comments

Carl Sandburg


The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

9 December 2007 | 18:45 | No Comments

William Blake

To Generalize is to be an Idiot. To Particularize is the Alone Distinction of Merit

6 December 2007 | 23:09 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

a telegram to his wife

Am at Market Harborough. Where ought I to be?

5 December 2007 | 19:34 | No Comments

Piet Hein

Simply Assisting God

I am a humble artist
moulding my earthly clod,
adding my labour to nature’s,
simply assisting God.

Not that my effort is needed;
yet somehow, I understand,
my maker has willed it that I too should have
unmoulded clay in my hand.

5 December 2007 | 7:25 | No Comments


If a better system is thine, impart it; if not, make use of mine.

3 December 2007 | 23:12 | No Comments

Edmund Burke

Never despair; but if you do, work on in despair.

2 December 2007 | 23:06 | No Comments

Elizabeth Bibesco

Winter draws what summer paints.

30 November 2007 | 20:51 | No Comments

Karl Popper

If we are uncritical we shall always find what we want: we shall look for, and find, confirmations, and we shall look away from, and not see, whatever might be dangerous to our pet theories.

29 November 2007 | 10:11 | No Comments

William Blake

When nations grow old, the Arts grow cold,
And Commerce settles on every tree.

28 November 2007 | 8:49 | No Comments

Soren Kierkegaard

The voice of a young man

One sticks one’s finger into the soil to tell by the smell in what land one is: I stick my finger in existence – it smells of nothing. Where am I? Who am I? How came I here? What is this thing called the world? What does this world mean? Who is it that has lured me into the world? Why was I not consulted, why not made acquainted with its manners and customs instead of throwing me into the ranks, as if I had been bought by a kidnapper, a dealer in souls? How did I obtain an interest in this big enterprise they call reality? Why should I have an interest in it? Is it not a voluntary concern? And if I am to be compelled to take part in it, where is the director? I should like to make a remark to him. Is there no director? Whither shall I turn with my complaint?

27 November 2007 | 15:33 | No Comments

Don Patterson

A poem is just a little machine for remembering itself … our memory of the poem is the poem.

25 November 2007 | 8:58 | No Comments

Thomas Hardy


I am the family face;
Flesh perishes, I live on,
Projecting trait and trace
Through time to times anon,
And leaping from place to place
Over oblivion.

The years-heired feature that can
In curve and voice and eye
Despise the human span
Ofdurance–that is I;
The eternal thing in man,
That heeds no call to die.

24 November 2007 | 22:19 | No Comments

P G Wodehouse

“Ha!” I said. And meant it to sting.

23 November 2007 | 18:27 | No Comments

Coco Chanel

Elegance does not consist in putting on a new dress.

22 November 2007 | 8:14 | No Comments

Matt Harvey

To A Vary Special Slope

You are such a radiant gradient
a smooth one, not a hilly one
Your red-rimmed sign says you’re one in nine,
but to me you’re one in a million

21 November 2007 | 15:22 | No Comments


He who feared that he would not succeed sat still.

20 November 2007 | 7:46 | No Comments

Ogden Nash

Happiness is having a scratch for every itch.

18 November 2007 | 20:01 | No Comments

Bruce Cockburn

Anything Can Happen

You could have gone off the Bloor Street viaduct
I could have been run down in the street
You could have got botulism anytime
I could have gone overboard into the sea

Anything can happen
To put out the light,
Is it any wonder
I don’t want to say goodnight?

I could have been hit by a falling pane of glass
You could have had shark teeth write “finit”
We could have been nailed by some vigilante type
In a case of mistaken identity — obviously

Anything can happen
To put out the light
Is it any wonder
I don’t want to say goodnight?

We could have been lynched and tarred and feathered
Been on a plane that crashed in flames
Could have done the neutron melt together
But here we are just the same!

You could have been daggered in the dead of night
You could have been gassed inside your car
I could have been walking in the open fields
And been drilled through the head by a shooting star

Anything can happen
To put out the light
Is it any wonder
I don’t want to say goodnight?

17 November 2007 | 21:55 | No Comments

F P Harton

A letter from the vicar of Baulking to Penelope Betjeman

My Dear Penelope

I have been thinking over the question of the playing of the harmonium on Sunday evenings here and have reached the following conclusion that I must now take it over myself.

I am very grateful to you for doing it for so long and hate to have to ask you to give it up, but, to put it plainly, your playing has got worse and worse and the discord between the harmonium and the congregation is becoming destructive to devotion. People are not very sensitive here, but even some of them have begun to complain, and they are not usually given to doing that. I do not like writing this, but I think that you will agree that it is my business to see that the divine worship is as perfect as it can be made. Perhaps the crankiness of the instrument has something to do with the trouble. I think it does require a careful and experienced player to deal with it.

Thank you ever so much for stepping so generously into the breach when Sibyl was ill; it was the greatest possible help to me and our results were noticeably better then than now.

Yours ever,

F P Harton

16 November 2007 | 8:07 | No Comments

Edith Hamilton

Life for him was an adventure, perilous indeed, but men are not made for safe havens.

15 November 2007 | 23:50 | No Comments

Arthur Guiterman

Admitting Error clears the Score
And proves you Wiser than before.

14 November 2007 | 22:21 | No Comments

Kim Philby

To betray, you must first belong.

12 November 2007 | 7:33 | No Comments

Bern Williams

The average man will bristle if you say his father was dishonest, but he will brag a little if he discovers that his great-grandfather was a pirate.

11 November 2007 | 21:00 | No Comments

Brian Patten

I found a small dragon

I found a small dragon in the woodshed.
I think it must have come from deep inside a forest
because it’s damp and green, and leaves
are still reflecting in its eyes.

I fed it on many things, tried grass,
the roots of stars, hazel-nut and dandelion,
but it stared up at me as if to say:
I need foods you can’t provide.

It made a nest of coal,
not unlike a bird’s but larger.
It is out of place here
and is quite silent.

If you believed in it I would come
hurrying to your house to let you share my wonder,
but I want instead to see
if you yourself will pass this way.

10 November 2007 | 22:36 | No Comments

Thomas Hood

Holland … lies so low they are only saved by being dammed.

9 November 2007 | 8:32 | No Comments

Benito Juárez

Adversity discourages none but contemptible peoples.

8 November 2007 | 21:45 | No Comments


Some say cavalry and others claim
infantry or a fleet of long oars
is the supreme sight on the black earth.
I say it is the one you love.

7 November 2007 | 23:21 | No Comments

Henry David Thoreau

An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.

6 November 2007 | 20:13 | No Comments

Fran Lebowitz

Your responsibility as a parent is not as great as you might imagine. You need not supply the world with the next conqueror of disease or major motion picture star. If your child simply grows up to be someone who does not use the word “collectible” as a noun, you can consider yourself an unqualified success.

5 November 2007 | 21:41 | No Comments


For joys fall not to the rich alone, nor has he lived ill, who from birth to death has passed unknown.

4 November 2007 | 17:32 | No Comments

Salman Rushdie


Zembla, Zenda, Xanadu:
All our dream-worlds may come true.
Fairy lands are fearsome too.
As I wander far from view
Read, and bring me home to you.

3 November 2007 | 17:35 | No Comments

Edward Abbey

One final paragraph of advice: Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast – a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for awhile and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: You will outlive the bastards.

2 November 2007 | 8:12 | No Comments

Piet Hein

Consolation Grook

Losing one glove
is certainly painful,
but nothing
compared to the pain,
of losing one,
throwing away the other,
and finding
the first one again.

31 October 2007 | 7:23 | No Comments

Robert Frost

I would like to know
What I was fencing in
And what I was fencing out.

30 October 2007 | 6:59 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

Man is an exception, whatever else he is. If he is not the image of God, then he is a disease of the dust. If it is not true that a divine being fell, then we can only say that one of the animals went entirely off its head.

29 October 2007 | 14:39 | No Comments

Ambrose Bierce

Sweater, n. A garment worn by a child when its mother is feeling chilly.

28 October 2007 | 13:57 | No Comments

Miroslav Holub

Fairy Tale

He built himself a house,
his foundations,
his stones,
his walls,
his roof overhead,
his chimney and smoke,
his view from the window.

He made himself a garden,
his fence,
his thyme,
his earthworm,
his evening dew.

He cut out his bit of sky above.

And he wrapped the garden in the sky
and the house in the garden
and packed the lot in a handkerchief

and went off
lone as an arctic fox
through the cold
into the world.

28 October 2007 | 13:55 | No Comments

Woody Allen

If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.

26 October 2007 | 21:20 | No Comments

Richard Feynman

We have a habit in writing articles published in scientific journals to make the work as finished as possible, to cover up all the tracks, to not worry about the blind alleys or describe how you had the wrong idea first, and so on. So there isn’t any place to publish, in a dignified manner, what you actually did in order to get to do the work.

25 October 2007 | 6:18 | No Comments

Carol Ann Duffy

Mrs Icarus

I’m not the first or the last
to stand on a hillock,
watching the man she married
prove to the world
he’s a total, utter, absolute Grade A pillock.

24 October 2007 | 7:10 | No Comments


It is your concern when your neighbour’s wall is on fire.

23 October 2007 | 7:58 | No Comments

Paul Valery

Science means simply the aggregate of all the recipes that are always successful. All the rest is literature.

22 October 2007 | 9:11 | No Comments

Alan Coren

In the days when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, I know one boy who won’t be sweating. I intend to raise my coffin-lid briskly, throw a few things into an overnight bag, and, whistling something appropriate, prepare to meet my Maker.

21 October 2007 | 9:17 | No Comments

Katherine Philips

Upon the graving of her Name upon a Tree in Barnelmes Walks

Alas how barbarous are we,
Thus to reward the courteous Tree,
Who its broad shade affording us,
Deserves not to be wounded thus;
See how the Yielding Bark complies
With our ungrateful injuries.
And seeing this, say how much then
Trees are more generous than men,
Who by a Nobleness so pure
Can first oblige and then endure.

20 October 2007 | 13:13 | No Comments

Lewis Carroll

‘Then you should say what you mean,’ the March Hare went on. ‘I do,’ Alice hastily replied; ‘at least,- at least I mean what I say – that’s the same thing, you know.’ ‘Not the same thing a bit!’ said the Hatter. ‘Why, you might just as well say that “I see what I eat” is the same thing as “I eat what I see!”

19 October 2007 | 5:23 | No Comments

Leo Tolstoy

A king is history’s slave.

18 October 2007 | 6:40 | No Comments

Piet Hein

The way to grow grand
is not: to demand.
In life’s every field
you are what you yield.

17 October 2007 | 10:38 | No Comments

Cardinal Newmann

Sail not as if in pleasure boats upon a troubled sea.

16 October 2007 | 8:40 | No Comments

Don Patterson

We should never forget that of all the art forms, only the poem can be carried around in the brain perfectly intact.

15 October 2007 | 7:38 | No Comments

John Donne

Let not the Olive boast of her own fatness, nor the Fig-tree of her own sweetness, nor the Vine of her own fruitfulness, for we were all but Brambles.

14 October 2007 | 11:08 | No Comments

Adrian Henri

Galactic Lovepoem

Warm your feet at the sunset
Before we go to bed
Read your book by the light of Orion
With Sirius guarding your head
Then reach out and switch off the planets
We’ll watch them go out one by one
You kiss me and tell me you love me
By the light of the last setting sun
We’ll both be up early tomorrow
A new universe has begun.

13 October 2007 | 12:53 | No Comments

Francois de La Rochefoucauld

We confess our little faults to persuade people that we have no large ones.

12 October 2007 | 12:04 | No Comments

Ernst Mach

Truth suffers herself to be courted, but evidently she has no desire to be won.

11 October 2007 | 16:51 | No Comments

Mexican Proverb

Do good and don’t worry to whom.

9 October 2007 | 6:22 | No Comments

Alfie Kohn

Trying to do well and trying to beat others are two different things.

8 October 2007 | 6:10 | No Comments

Frank Smith

Ignorance is not so much not knowing an answer as not knowing that there is a question. Ignorance is a blind dependence that someone else will be able to tell you what to do.

7 October 2007 | 7:11 | No Comments


What He Said

What could my mother be
to yours? What kin my father
to yours anyway? And how
did you and I meet ever?
But in love
Our hearts have mingled
like red earth and pouring rain.

Cempulappeyanirar was a Tamil poet who wrote about 2000 years ago. In Tamil literary tradition many works remained anonymous and there is the practice of identifying a poet by a phrase or word from his work. So “cempulapeyanirar” literally means ‘the poet of red earth and pouring rain’.

This is the source for the title of Vikram Chandra’s first novel ‘Red Earth and Pouring Rain’.

6 October 2007 | 0:15 | No Comments

J L Austin

An undergraduate asked the philosophy professor J L Austin – “When may we hope to see your Harvard lectures published sir?”

To which he gave the characteristically accurate answer – “You may hope to see them published any time.”

5 October 2007 | 14:14 | No Comments

Leo Tolstoy

I sit on a man’s back, choking him, and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by any means possible, except getting off his back.

4 October 2007 | 6:31 | No Comments

Wendy Cope

Kindness to Animals

If I went vegetarian
And didn’t eat lambs for dinner,
I think I’d be a better person
And also thinner.

But the lamb is not endangered
And at least I can truthfully say
I have never, ever eaten a barn owl,
So perhaps I am OK.

This poem was commissioned by the editor of “The Orange Dove of Fiji,” an anthology for the benefit of the World Wide Fund for Nature. It was rejected as unsuitable.

3 October 2007 | 23:39 | No Comments

Madeleine L’Engle

We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes.

2 October 2007 | 6:38 | No Comments

Everett Dirksen

When I face an issue of great import that cleaves both constituents and colleagues, I always take the same approach. I engage in deep deliberation and quiet contemplation. I wait to the last available minute and then I always vote with the losers. Because, my friend, the winners never remember and the losers never forget.

1 October 2007 | 6:38 | No Comments

Paul Valery

The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself for an oracle, is inborn in us.

30 September 2007 | 7:04 | No Comments

Christopher Logue


If the night flights keep you awake
I will call London Airport and tell them
to land their dangerous junk elsewhere.

And if you fall asleep with the sleeve
of my jacket under your head,
sooner than wake you, I’ll cut it off.

But if you say:
‘Fix me a plug on this mixer’,
I grumble and take my time.

29 September 2007 | 15:21 | No Comments


They change their clime, not their disposition, who run across the sea.

28 September 2007 | 10:14 | No Comments

Vladimir Horowitz

It is better to make your own mistakes than to copy someone else’s

27 September 2007 | 6:45 | No Comments

Rabindranath Tagore

Stray Birds

Stray birds of summer come to my
window to sing and fly away.
And yellow leaves of autumn, which
have no songs, flutter and fall
there with a sigh.

26 September 2007 | 20:01 | No Comments

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Never read any book that is not a year old.

25 September 2007 | 4:50 | No Comments

George Meade

Never fear your enemies, fear your actions.

24 September 2007 | 6:56 | No Comments

Neils Bohr

Never express yourself more clearly than you are able to think.

23 September 2007 | 14:18 | No Comments

John Dryden

Happy The Man

Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.
Be fair or foul or rain or shine
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heaven itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.

22 September 2007 | 23:24 | No Comments

Jorge Luis Borges

The future is inevitable and precise, but it may not occur. God lurks in the gaps.

21 September 2007 | 6:34 | No Comments

Alfred North Whitehead

Seek simplicity and distrust it.

20 September 2007 | 6:52 | No Comments

T E Hulme

Above the Dock

Above the quiet dock in midnight,
Tangled in the tall mast’s corded height,
Hangs the moon. What seemed so far away
Is but a child’s balloon, forgotten after play.

19 September 2007 | 7:56 | No Comments

Henri-Frederic Amiel

The man who insists on seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides.

18 September 2007 | 18:41 | No Comments

Fred Trueman

Batsman (having just been clean bowled): That was one hell of a ball, Fred.
Fred Trueman: Ay, it were wasted on thee.

17 September 2007 | 6:30 | No Comments

Winston Churchill

There are two things that are more difficult than making an after-dinner speech: climbing a wall which is leaning toward you and kissing a girl who is leaning away from you.

16 September 2007 | 13:39 | No Comments

Robert Herrick

Delight in Disorder

A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness :
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction :
An erring lace which here and there
Enthrals the crimson stomacher :
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbons to flow confusedly :
A winning wave (deserving note)
In the tempestuous petticoat :
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility :
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.

15 September 2007 | 18:13 | No Comments

Isaac Bashevis Singer

God sends burdens, and shoulders, too.

14 September 2007 | 6:27 | No Comments

J Brotherton

My riches consist not in the extent of my possessions, but in the fewness of my wants.

13 September 2007 | 5:38 | No Comments

Matt Harvey

If love can build a bridge,
can affection put up a shelf?

12 September 2007 | 20:21 | No Comments

Foghorn Leghorn

That boy is about as sharp as a bowlin’ ball.

11 September 2007 | 19:15 | No Comments

Madeleine L’Engle

You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.

10 September 2007 | 0:34 | No Comments

Thomas Carlyle

A person usually has two reasons for doing something: a good reason and the real reason.

9 September 2007 | 9:13 | No Comments

R S Thomas


through verbosity
can lead to animosity

as an attitude
from exacitude
can become a platitude

leads not with majority
to popularity

as scrupulosity
has the capacity
to encourage pomposity.

Belief in the Trinity
for most of humanity
suggests a nonentity

I fear theology
is just an allergy
of anthropology

Heigh-ho that the universe
through over-rehearsal
should become farcical.

in the face of gravity
is incivility.

In a Calvinist’s heaven,
where no foot is cloven,
who are the forgiven?

Time does not prevaricate.
Where the heart pontificates
the questions proliferate.

Is not astrology
disguised as the economy
the human pathology?

One could go on and on
like traffic in London –
It is late. I have done.

8 September 2007 | 12:09 | No Comments

Robert Schumann

In order to compose, all you need do is remember a tune that nobody else has thought of.

7 September 2007 | 14:18 | No Comments

Dr Seuss

Adults are just obsolete children.

6 September 2007 | 6:25 | No Comments

Spike Milligan

Things that go ‘bump’ in the night
Should not really give one a fright.
It’s the hole in each ear
That lets in the fear,
That, and the absence of light!

5 September 2007 | 7:24 | No Comments

Fred Allen

A molehill man is a pseudo-busy executive who comes to work at 9 am and finds a molehill on his desk. He has until 5 pm to make this molehill into a mountain. An accomplished molehill man will often have his mountain finished before lunch.

4 September 2007 | 7:17 | No Comments

Pete Seeger

Education is what you get when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don’t.

3 September 2007 | 6:47 | No Comments

Henry Van Dyke

Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.

2 September 2007 | 7:38 | No Comments

Carol Ann Duffy

The Light Gatherer

When you were small, your cupped palms
each held a candleworth under the skin,
enough light to begin,

and as you grew,
light gathered in you, two clear raindrops
in your eyes,

warm pearls, shy,
in the lobes of your ears, even always
the light of a smile after your tears.

Your kissed feet glowed in my one hand,
or I’d enter a room to see the corner you played in
lit like a stage set,

the crown of your bowed head spotlit.
When language came, it glittered like a river,
silver, clever with fish,

and you slept
with the whole moon held in your arms for a night light
where I knelt watching.

Light gatherer. You fell from a star
into my lap, the soft lamp at the bedside
mirrored in you,

and now you shine like a snowgirl,
a buttercup under a chin, the wide blue yonder
you squeal at and fly in,

like a jewelled cave,
turquoise and diamond and gold, opening out
at the end of a tunnnel of years.

1 September 2007 | 17:05 | No Comments

Henry Van Dyke

The lintel low enough to keep out pomp and pride:
The threshold high enough to turn deceit aside.

31 August 2007 | 20:04 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

Fable is more historical than fact, because fact tells us about one man and fable tells us about a million men.

30 August 2007 | 7:54 | No Comments

Matt Harvey

Revenge of the Poet

I’ll write a poem
that’ll show’em

29 August 2007 | 6:16 | No Comments

Lord Hailsham

The best way I know of to win an argument is to start by being in the right.

28 August 2007 | 6:08 | No Comments

Rory Motion


Ladbroke Grove is funkier than York
In York you see policemen walking
On the beat
But in Ladborke Grove
You see them walking
On the off-beat

27 August 2007 | 7:20 | No Comments

William Cowper

The only true happiness comes from squandering ourselves for a purpose.

26 August 2007 | 18:57 | No Comments

Grabel’s Law

2 is not equal to 3, not even for large values of 2.

24 August 2007 | 7:04 | No Comments

Philip Larkin

– The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused –

from Aubade

23 August 2007 | 14:25 | No Comments


The Queerness of it All


by reference to

22 August 2007 | 12:37 | No Comments

Charles C Noble

You must have long range goals to keep you from being frustrated by short range failures.

21 August 2007 | 6:04 | No Comments

George Orwell

On the whole human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time.

19 August 2007 | 19:41 | No Comments

William Butler Yeats

On Being Asked for a War Poem

I think it better that in times like these
A poet keep his mouth shut, for in truth
We have no gift to set a statesman right;
He has had enough of meddling who can please
A young girl in the indolence of her youth,
Or an old man upon a winter’s night.

18 August 2007 | 8:09 | No Comments

Lewis Carroll

“Impenetrability! That’s what I say!”
“Would you tell me, please,” said Alice “what that means?”
“Now you talk like a reasonable child,” said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. “I meant by ‘impenetrability’ that we’ve had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you’d mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don’t mean to stop here all the rest of your life.”
“That’s a great deal to make one word mean,” Alice said in a thoughtful tone.
“When I make a word do a lot of work like that,” said Humpty Dumpty, “I always pay it extra.”

17 August 2007 | 6:18 | No Comments

Mark Twain

Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.

16 August 2007 | 6:21 | No Comments

Dr D D Perrin

A mosquito was heard to complain

A mosquito was heard to complain
That a chemist had poisoned his brain
The cause of his sorrow
Was paradichloro

15 August 2007 | 18:55 | No Comments

W S Anglin

Mathematics is not a careful march down a well-cleared highway, but a journey into a strange wilderness, where the explorers often get lost. Rigour should be a signal to the historian that the maps have been made, and the real explorers have gone elsewhere.

14 August 2007 | 7:44 | No Comments

Henry Kissinger

The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously.

13 August 2007 | 22:18 | No Comments

F E Smith

Judge: Are you trying to show contempt for this court, Mr Smith?
Smith: No, My Lord. I am attempting to conceal it.

12 August 2007 | 9:11 | No Comments

Eugene Guillevic

May it be long, at least
This life one has to live.

For difficult
is the lesson

11 August 2007 | 11:40 | No Comments

W H Auden

Every autobiography is concered with two characters, a Don Quixote, the Ego, and a Sancho Panza, the Self.

10 August 2007 | 19:50 | No Comments

Arthur Koestler

If the creator had a purpose in equipping us with a neck, he surely meant us to stick it out.

9 August 2007 | 9:10 | No Comments

George Mackay Brown

Language unstable as sand, but poets
Strike on hard rock, carving
Rune and hieroglyph , to celebrate
Breath’s sweet brevity.

8 August 2007 | 20:51 | No Comments

A E Housman

Here Dead We Lie

Here dead we lie
Because we did not choose
To live and shame the land
From which we sprung.

Life, to be sure,
Is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is,
And we were young.

4 August 2007 | 5:20 | No Comments

Francis Bacon

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.

3 August 2007 | 21:50 | No Comments

Tom Stoppard

Words … are innocent, neutral, precise, standing for this, defining that, meaning the other, so if you look after them you can build bridges across incomprehension and chaos… They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you’re dead.

2 August 2007 | 14:04 | No Comments

Marcel Achard

Women like silent men. They think they’re listening.

31 July 2007 | 6:26 | No Comments

Elizabeth Bibesco

We learn nothing by being right.

30 July 2007 | 6:49 | No Comments

Karl Popper

Science may be described as the art of systematic over-simplification – the art of discerning what we may with advantage omit.

29 July 2007 | 8:09 | No Comments

Roget McGough

The Man in the Moon

On the edge of the jumping-off place I stood
Below me, the lake
Beyond that, the dark wood
And above, a night-sky that roared.

I picked a space between two stars
Held out my arms, and soared.

* * *

The journey lasted not half a minute
There is a moon reflected in the lake
You will find me in it.

28 July 2007 | 12:28 | No Comments

George Bernard Shaw

When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.

27 July 2007 | 5:41 | No Comments

Joseph Joubert

He who has imagination without learning has wings and no feet.

26 July 2007 | 6:45 | No Comments

Bruce Cockburn

All the Diamonds

All the diamonds in this world
That mean anything to me
Are conjured up by wind and sunlight
Sparkling on the sea

I ran aground in a harbour town
Lost the taste for being free
Thank God He sent some gull-chased ship
To carry me to sea

Two thousand years and half a world away
Dying trees still grow greener when you pray

Silver scales flash bright and fade
In reeds along the shore
Like a pearl in sea of liquid jade
His ship comes shining
Like a crystal swan in a sky of suns
His ship comes shining.

25 July 2007 | 7:06 | No Comments

Don Herold

There is nobody so irritating as somebody with less intelligence and more sense than we have.

24 July 2007 | 5:30 | No Comments

Judge Blagden

A witness cannot give evidence of his age unless he can remember being born.

23 July 2007 | 5:46 | No Comments

Charles Morgan

Evil isn’t an army that besieges a city from outside the walls. It is a native of the city. It is the mutiny in the garrison, the poison in the water, the ashes in the bread.

22 July 2007 | 9:42 | No Comments

Western Wind

Westron wynde, when wilt thou blow,
The small raine down can raine.
Cryst, if my love were in my armes
And I in my bedde again!

21 July 2007 | 17:13 | No Comments

Wilhelm Reich

…scientific theory is a contrived foothold in the chaos of living phenomena.

20 July 2007 | 8:17 | No Comments

Leonardo da Vinci

Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory.

19 July 2007 | 10:15 | No Comments

James Ball Naylor

King David and King Solomon
Led merry, merry lives,
With many, many concubines
And many, many wives;
But when old age crept over them,
With many, many qualms,
King Solomon wrote the Proverbs
And King David wrote the Psalms

18 July 2007 | 21:12 | No Comments

Benjamin Franklin

Diligence is the mother of good luck.

17 July 2007 | 22:54 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.

16 July 2007 | 7:15 | No Comments

George Bernard Shaw

An Englishman thinks he is moral when he is only being uncomfortable.

15 July 2007 | 9:29 | No Comments

Emily Dickinson

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!

14 July 2007 | 17:34 | No Comments

William Somerset Maugham

Only mediocre people are always at their best.

13 July 2007 | 6:59 | No Comments

John Augustus Shedd

A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.

12 July 2007 | 8:38 | No Comments

Winston Churchill

If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or as it were, fondle them-peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set then back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that if you do not know what is in them, you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends let them at any rate be your acquaintances. If they cannot enter the circle of your life, do not deny them at least a nod of recognition.

11 July 2007 | 15:08 | No Comments

Milton Berle

I’d rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are;
because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star.
I’d rather be a has-been than a might-have-been, by far;
for a might have-been has never been, but a has was once an are.

10 July 2007 | 7:35 | No Comments

R Buckminster Fuller

Of course, our failures are a consequence of many factors, but possibly one of the most important is the fact that society operates on the theory that specialization is the key to success, not realizing that specialization precludes comprehensive thinking.

9 July 2007 | 6:55 | No Comments

Michael Rosen

The cat’s ignoring me.
So I’m ignoring the cat.
Which means that I’m not.

8 July 2007 | 7:21 | No Comments

T S Eliot

The Hippopotamus

The broad-backed hippopotamus
Rests on his belly in the mud;
Although he seems so firm to us
He is merely flesh and blood.

Flesh and blood is weak and frail,
Susceptible to nervous shock;
While the true church can never fail
For it is based upon a rock.

The hippo’s feeble steps may err
In compassing material ends,
While the True Church need never stir
To gather in its dividends.

The ‘potamus can never reach
The mango on the mango-tree;
But fruits of pomegranate and peach
Refresh the Church from over sea.

At mating time the hippo’s voice
Betrays inflexions hoarse and odd,
But every week we hear rejoice
The Church, at being one with God.

The hippopotamus’s day
Is passed in sleep; at night he hunts;
God works in a mysterious way –
The church can sleep and feed at once

I saw the ‘potamus take wing
Ascending from the damp savannas,
And quiring angels round him sing
The praise of God, in loud hosannas.

Blood of the Lamb shall wash him clean
And him shall heavenly arms enfold,
Among the saints he shall be seen
Performing on a harp of gold.

He shall be washed as white as snow,
By all martyr’d virgins kist,
While the True Church remains below
Wrapt in old miasmal mist.

7 July 2007 | 11:12 | No Comments

Nathaniel Hawthorne

The world owes all its onward impulses to men ill at ease. The happy man inevitably confines himself within ancient limits.

6 July 2007 | 17:10 | No Comments

Eugene Guillevic

To See

It is a question of seeing
so much clearer

of doing to things
what light does to them.

5 July 2007 | 9:29 | No Comments

Edna St. Vincent Millay


Was it for this I uttered prayers,
And sobbed and cursed and kicked the stairs,
That now, domestic as a plate,
I should retire at half-past eight?

4 July 2007 | 7:20 | No Comments

Thomas Paine

It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government.

3 July 2007 | 7:36 | No Comments

Tom Stoppard

I am with you on the free press, it is the papers I can’t stand.

2 July 2007 | 22:00 | No Comments

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.

1 July 2007 | 8:27 | No Comments

Coventry Patmore

Magna est Veritas

Here, in this little Bay,
Full of tumultuous life and great repose,
Where, twice a day,
The purposeless, glad ocean comes and goes,
Under high cliffs, and far from the huge town,
I sit me down.

For want of me the world’s course will not fail;
When all its work is done, the lie shall rot;
The truth is great, and shall prevail,
When none cares whether it prevail or not.

30 June 2007 | 18:07 | No Comments


The older I get the faster I was.

29 June 2007 | 20:10 | No Comments

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every artist was first an amateur.

28 June 2007 | 4:47 | No Comments

Arthur Guiterman

On the Vanity of Earthly Greatness

The tusks which clashed in mighty brawls
Of mastodons, are billiard balls.

The sword of Charlemagne the Just
Is Ferric Oxide, known as rust.

The grizzly bear, whose potent hug,
Was feared by all, is now a rug.

Great Caesar’s bust is on the shelf,
And I don’t feel so well myself.

27 June 2007 | 6:04 | No Comments

T S Eliot

It will do you no harm to find yourself ridiculous.
Resign yourself to be the fool you are.

26 June 2007 | 18:17 | No Comments

James Clerk Maxwell

There is nothing more practical than a good theory.

25 June 2007 | 20:59 | No Comments

Raymond Queneau


The woodman weighs up the oaks; the calendar, the years; the pamphlet, hatreds; the boxer, his teeth; the locksmith, bolts; the sweet maker, fondant bonbons; the jeweller, chalcedonies; the tamer, the elephams; the coiffeur, combs; the hatter, turbans; the impresario, new prodigies; the ridingmaster, white stallions; the juggler, full spheres; the conjurer, empty spheres. The weight of things requires attention, though it may be we feel little anxiety at the supposed law of matter’s ruin, for in the end all things re-unite: the years in the rings ofthe oaks, the look of hatred in the teeth, the fondant bonbons in the cakeholes of keyholes, the precious stones in the finery of the elephants, the combs beneath wound cloths, the hoarse prodigies in galloping fame, and the spheres with the spheres in topological bouquets.

Now everything is clear.

24 June 2007 | 10:20 | No Comments

Seamus Heaney

The Rescue

In drifts of sleep I came upon you.
Buried to your waist in snow.
You reached your arms out: I came to
Like water in a dream of thaw.

23 June 2007 | 21:55 | No Comments

Beverly Sills

There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.

22 June 2007 | 7:18 | No Comments

Henry David Thoreau

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.

19 June 2007 | 6:37 | No Comments

F E Smith

In court, as a young barrister:

Judge: I have read your case, Mr Smith, and I am no wiser now than I was when I started.
Smith: Possibly not, My Lord, but much better informed.

18 June 2007 | 7:04 | No Comments

Diogenes of Sinope

Do not take from me what you cannot give.

Said to Alexander the Great who had gone to see Diogenes, who at time was lying in the sun. Standing in front of him, Alexander, the most powerful man in the world, made an offer to the philopsopher, saying “Whatever you ask of me, I will be pleased to give to you”. In response to this remarkable offer Diogeens requested that Alexander should stop blocking his sunlight before adding the statement above.

In reply Alexander stated that “If I was not Alexander, I would wish to be Diogenes”

17 June 2007 | 0:39 | No Comments

Billy Collins

Introduction To Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

16 June 2007 | 15:36 | No Comments

Tom Hopkins

I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed; and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep on trying.

15 June 2007 | 6:34 | No Comments

Miguel De Cervantes

Good actions ennoble us, we are the sons of our own deeds.

14 June 2007 | 10:21 | No Comments

Rory Motion

The Sun

I stayed up all night
Thinking about the sun
Then in the morning
It dawned on me

13 June 2007 | 7:35 | No Comments

Gore Vidal

There is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.

12 June 2007 | 19:08 | No Comments

G H Hardy

A mathematician, like a painter or a poet, is a maker of patterns.

11 June 2007 | 5:25 | No Comments

Ralph Waldo Emerson

You shall have joy, or you shall have power, said God; you shall not have both

10 June 2007 | 6:57 | No Comments

Henry Carey

A Lilliputian Ode on their Majesties Accession

Smile, smile,
Blest Isle!
Grief past,
(At last)
Comes on.
New King,
Bells ring;
New Queen,
Blest Scene!
And thrives.
Fear flies,
Stocks rise;
Wealth flows,
Art grows.
Strange Pack,
Sent back;
Own Folks
Crack Jokes.
Those out
May pout;
Those in
Will grin.

Great small,
Pleas’d all.

God send
No End,
To Line
Of George and Caroline!

on the coronation of George II in 1727

9 June 2007 | 11:29 | No Comments


I will either find a way or make one.

8 June 2007 | 17:03 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it.

7 June 2007 | 7:42 | No Comments

Wendy Cope

The sorrow of socks

Some socks are loners –
They can’t live in pairs.
On washdays they’ve shown us
They want to be loners
They puzzle their owners,
They hide in dark lairs.
Some socks are loners –
They won’t live in pairs.

6 June 2007 | 7:19 | No Comments

Ward Cunningham

I’m not a fan of classification. It’s very difficult to come up with a classification scheme that’s useful when what you’re most interested in is things that don’t fit in, things that you didn’t expect.

5 June 2007 | 6:18 | No Comments


Nobody is completely useless; they can always serve as a bad example.

4 June 2007 | 21:32 | No Comments

W S Gilbert


Saturday morning, although recurring at regular well foreseen intervals, always seems to take this railway by surprise.

beginning a letter of complaint to the station-master at Baker Street station.

3 June 2007 | 6:57 | No Comments


Lavender’s Blue

Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly,
Lavender’s green
When you are King, dilly dilly,
I shall be Queen

Who told you so, dilly dilly,
Who told you so?
‘Twas my own heart, dilly dilly,
That told me so

Call up your friends, dilly, dilly
Set them to work
Some to the plough, dilly dilly,
Some to the fork

Some to the hay, dilly dilly,
Some to thresh corn
Whilst you and I, dilly dilly,
Keep ourselves warm

Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly,
Lavender’s green
When you are King, dilly dilly,
I shall be Queen

Who told you so, dilly dilly,
Who told you so?
‘Twas my own heart, dilly dilly,
That told me so

2 June 2007 | 8:05 | No Comments

Chinese Proverb

It is a false economy to burn your house down out of a desire to inconvenience your mother-in-law.

31 May 2007 | 6:51 | No Comments

Marianne Moore

I May, I Might, I Must

If you tell me why the fen
appears impassable, I then
will tell you why I think that I
can get across it if I try.

30 May 2007 | 6:28 | No Comments

Thomas Edison

Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.

29 May 2007 | 9:45 | No Comments

Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury

By a free country, I mean a country where people are allowed, so long as they do not hurt their neighbours, to do as they like. I do not mean a country where six men may make five men do exactly as they like.

28 May 2007 | 7:46 | No Comments

Ted Wolff

Intercalate obligatory platitudinous plagiarism here.

27 May 2007 | 15:29 | No Comments

Sarah Teasdale

I Am Not Yours

I am not yours, not lost in you,
Not lost, although I long to be
Lost as a candle lit at noon,
Lost as a snowflake in the sea.

You love me, and I find you still
A spirit beautiful and bright,
Yet I am I, who long to be
Lost as a light is lost in light.

Oh plunge me deep in love — put out
My senses, leave me deaf and blind,
Swept by the tempest of your love,
A taper in a rushing wind.

26 May 2007 | 10:47 | No Comments

Cary Grant

Old Cary Grant fine, how you?

In reply to a telegram to his agent asking “How old Cary Grant?”

25 May 2007 | 5:14 | No Comments

Italian proverb

Between saying and doing many a pair of shoes is worn out.

24 May 2007 | 20:34 | No Comments

Robert Browning

What Youth deemed crystal, Age finds out was dew.

23 May 2007 | 6:45 | No Comments

Adlai Steveneson

When Socrates spoke, the people said how inspiring, but when Demosthenes spoke, the people said let us march.

22 May 2007 | 8:24 | No Comments

on David Hilbert

Hilbert […] was perhaps the most absent-minded man who ever lived. He was a great friend of the physicist James Franck. One day when Hilbert was walking in the street he met James Franck and he said, “James, is your wife as mean as mine?” Well, Franck was taken aback by this statement and didn’t know quite what to say, and he said, “Well, what has your wife done?” And Hilbert said, “It was only this morning that I discovered quite by accident that my wife does not give me an egg for breakfast. Heaven knows how long this has been going on.”

21 May 2007 | 21:19 | No Comments

Jeffrey Bernard

Sir, I have been commissioned by Michael Joseph to write an autobiography and I would be grateful to any of your readers who could tell me what I was doing between 1960 to 1974

A letter from Jeffrey Bernard in the New Statesman 18 July 1975

20 May 2007 | 7:34 | No Comments

Simon Armitage

The Catch

the long smouldering
afternoon. It is

this moment
when the ball scoots
of the edge

of the bat; upwards,
backwards, falling

beyond him
yet he reaches
and picks it

of its loop

an apple
from a branch,
the first of the season.

19 May 2007 | 9:06 | No Comments

Field Marshall Sir William Robertson

Speak the truth, think of others, don’t dawdle.

my 1,000th post

18 May 2007 | 21:25 | No Comments

Robert Louis Stevenson


The rain is raining all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea.

16 May 2007 | 21:02 | No Comments

Jon Hammond

The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

15 May 2007 | 6:48 | No Comments

Karl Popper

It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood.

14 May 2007 | 6:37 | No Comments

Spike Milligan

Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light.

13 May 2007 | 6:29 | No Comments

Becky Dennison Sakellariou

Math Is Beautiful and So Are You

If n is an even number
then I’ll kiss you goodnight right here,
but if the modulus k is the unique solution,
I’ll take you in my arms for the long night.

When the properties are constrained as well as incomplete,
I’ll be getting off the train at this stop.
However, if there is some positive constant,
then I’ll stay on board for a while longer.

When it says that the supremum deviates from the least zero,
my heart closes off.
But if all moments are infinite and you can hear me,
I will open out for you.

This sequence satisfies the hypothesis of uniformity,
and because we know that approximation is possible
and that inequality is an embedding factor,
come, let’s try once more.

12 May 2007 | 22:34 | No Comments

Siegbert Tarrasch

He who fears an isolated Queen’s Pawn should give up Chess.

11 May 2007 | 5:56 | No Comments

Sacha Guitry

You can pretend to be serious; you can’t pretend to be witty.

10 May 2007 | 6:14 | No Comments

Ogden Nash

My Dream

This is my dream,
It is my own dream,
I dreamt it.
I dreamt that my hair was kempt.
Then I dreamt that my true love unkempt it.

9 May 2007 | 19:37 | No Comments

Gelett Burgess

If in the last few years you haven’t discarded a major opinion or aquired a new one, check your pulse. You may be dead.

8 May 2007 | 18:58 | No Comments

Samuel Johnson

Nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible objections must first be overcome.

7 May 2007 | 13:30 | No Comments

John Keats

On first looking into Chapman’s Homer

Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific – and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise-
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

5 May 2007 | 18:50 | No Comments

Golda Meir

Don’t be so humble – you are not that great.

4 May 2007 | 20:01 | No Comments

Aussie Observation

As flash as a rat with a gold tooth.

3 May 2007 | 6:27 | No Comments

Wendy Cope

I Worry

I worry about you –
So long since we spoke.
Love, are you downhearted,
Dispirited, broke?

I worry about you.
I can’t sleep at night.
Are you sad? Are you lonely?
Or are you all right?

They say that men suffer,
As badly, as long.
I worry, I worry,
In case they are wrong.

2 May 2007 | 7:06 | No Comments

Will Rogers

Nothing you can’t spell will ever work.

1 May 2007 | 5:28 | No Comments

Burtram Mark Bacharach

A synonym is a word you use when you can’t spell the word you first thought of.

30 April 2007 | 21:33 | No Comments

Brian Clough

I wouldn’t say I was the best manager in the business. But I was in the top one.

29 April 2007 | 9:36 | No Comments

John Gillespie Magee

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds-and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence.
Hov’ring there I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
Where never the lark, nor even eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high, untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

A Canadian Spitfire pilot in the Battle of Britian

28 April 2007 | 12:59 | No Comments

Eugene Ionesco

Ideologies separate us. Dreams and anguish bring us together.

27 April 2007 | 21:01 | No Comments

Kahlil Gibran

Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.

26 April 2007 | 12:17 | No Comments

A A Milne

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last,
“what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.

24 April 2007 | 6:25 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

If you’d take your head home and boil it for a turnip it might be useful. I can’t say. But it might.

22 April 2007 | 21:40 | No Comments

Edward Thomas

Tall Nettles

Tall nettles cover up, as they have done
These many springs, the rusty harrow, the plough
Long worn out, and the roller made of stone:
Only the elm butt tops the nettles now.

This corner of the farmyard I like most:
As well as any bloom upon a flower
I like the dust on the nettles, never lost
Except to prove the sweetness of a shower.

21 April 2007 | 19:05 | No Comments

F Scott Fitzgerald

Either you think – or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilise and sterilize you.

20 April 2007 | 6:06 | No Comments

Victor Hugo

Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.

19 April 2007 | 20:38 | No Comments

Eubie James Herbert Blake

Be grateful for luck. Pay the thunder no mind – listen to the birds. And don’t hate nobody.

16 April 2007 | 6:20 | No Comments

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

I make a mistake and everyone can spot it; I tell a lie and no one else knows.

15 April 2007 | 21:31 | No Comments

William Wordsworth

A slumber did my spirit seal;
I had no human fears:
She seemed a thing that could not feel
The touch of earthly years.

No motion has she now, no force;
She neither hears nor sees;
Rolled round in earth’s diurnal course,
With rocks, and stones, and trees.

14 April 2007 | 21:12 | No Comments

Dodie Smith

Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cures for depression.

13 April 2007 | 19:03 | No Comments

Richard Bach

Fly free and happy beyond birthdays and across forever, and we’ll meet now and then when we wish, in the midst of the one celebration that never can end.

11 April 2007 | 5:30 | No Comments

Christopher Morley

Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to be always part of unanimity.

10 April 2007 | 20:17 | No Comments

Søren Kierkegaard

The truth is a trap: you can not get it without it getting you; you cannot get the truth by capturing it, only by its capturing you.

9 April 2007 | 15:17 | No Comments

Sara Teasdale


I went out on an April morning
All alone, for my heart was high,
I was a child of the shining meadow,
I was a sister of the sky.

There in the windy flood of morning
Longing lifted its weight from me,
Lost as a sob in the midst of cheering,
Swept as a sea-bird out to sea.

7 April 2007 | 8:05 | No Comments

Robert H Schuller

What would you attempt to do if you knew you would not fail?

5 April 2007 | 21:08 | No Comments

Francois de La Rochefoucauld

We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves.

3 April 2007 | 21:55 | No Comments

George Wald

It would be a poor thing to be an atom in a universe without physicists, and physicists are made of atoms. A physicist is an atom’s way of knowing about atoms.

2 April 2007 | 14:57 | No Comments

Hanlon’s Razor

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

1 April 2007 | 12:09 | No Comments

Eugenio Montejo

The Earth Turned to Bring Us Closer

The earth turned to bring us closer,
it spun on itself and within us,
and finally joined us together in this dream
as written in the Symposium.

Nights passed by, snowfalls and solstices;
time passed in minutes and millennia.
An ox cart that was on its way to Nineveh
arrived in Nebraska.

A rooster was singing some distance from the world,
in one of the thousand pre-lives of our fathers.
The earth was spinning with its music
carrying us on board;

it didn’t stop turning a single moment
as if so much love, so much that’s miraculous
was only an adagio written long ago
in the Symposium’s score.

31 March 2007 | 19:42 | No Comments

W H Auden

Evil is unspectacular and always human,
And shares our bed and eats at our own table.

30 March 2007 | 21:12 | No Comments

Tom Stoppard

Sometimes I dream of revolution, a bloody coup d’etat by the second rank – troupes of actors slaughtered by their understudies, magicians sawn in half by indefatigably smiling glamour girls, cricket teams wiped out by marauding bands of twelfth men – I dream of champions chopped down by rabbit-punching sparring partners while the eternal bridesmaids turn and rape the bridegrooms over the sausage rolls and parliamentary private secretaries plant bombs in the Minister’s Humber – comedians die on provincial stages, robbed of their feeds by mutely triumphant stooges – And march – an army of assistants and deputies, the seconds-in-command, the runners-up, the right-hand men – storming the palace gates wherein the second son has already mounted the throne having committed regicide with a croquet mallet – stand-ins of the world stand up!

29 March 2007 | 19:09 | No Comments

Wendy Cope


Late home for supper.
He musn’t seem drunk.
‘The pob cluck’, he begins,
And knows that he is sunk.

28 March 2007 | 5:51 | No Comments

Chuck Palahniuk

The best way to waste your life is by taking notes. The easiest way to avoid living is to just watch. Look for the details. Report. Don’t participate. Let Big Brother do the singing and dancing for you. Be a reporter. Be a good witness. A grateful member of the audience.

26 March 2007 | 17:43 | No Comments

Thomas Paine

A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it the superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable cry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.

25 March 2007 | 20:17 | No Comments

Philip Larkin


In times when nothing stood
but worsened, or grew strange,
there was one constant good:
she did not change.

on the Queen’s silver jubilee in 1977

24 March 2007 | 23:26 | No Comments

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

You are not a human being in search of spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience.

23 March 2007 | 8:06 | No Comments

W S Merwin


Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

22 March 2007 | 8:09 | No Comments

Lewis Carroll

How Doth the Little Crocodile

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws!

21 March 2007 | 7:27 | No Comments

Miguel de Cervantes

In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd.

20 March 2007 | 19:19 | No Comments

Peter Ustinov

It is our responsibilities, not ourselves, that we should take seriously.

19 March 2007 | 22:18 | No Comments

Bruce Cockburn

Strange Waters

I’ve seen a high cairn kissed by holy wind
Seen a mirror pool cut by golden fins
Seen alleys where they hide the truth of cities
The mad whose blessing you must accept without pity

I’ve stood in airports guarded glass and chrome
Walked rifled roads and landmined loam
Seen a forest in flames right down to the road
Burned in love till I’ve seen my heart explode

You’ve been leading me
Beside strange waters

Across the concrete fields of man
Sun ray like a camera pans
Some will run and some will stand
Everything is bullshit but the open hand

You’ve been leading me
Beside strange waters
Streams of beautiful lights in the night
But where is my pastureland in these dark valleys?
If I loose my grip, will I take flight?

You’ve been leading me
Beside strange waters
Streams of beautiful lights in the night
But where is my pastureland in these dark valleys?
If I loose my grip, will I take flight?

18 March 2007 | 21:43 | No Comments

Albert Einstein

Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods.

16 March 2007 | 7:37 | No Comments


Two Fragments

Love holds me captive again
and I tremble with bittersweet longing.

As a gale on the mountainside bends the oak tree
I am rocked by my love.

15 March 2007 | 23:33 | No Comments

Robert Louis Stevenson


The rain is raining all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea.

14 March 2007 | 0:27 | No Comments

Thomas à Kempis

Love flies, runs, and rejoices; it is free and nothing can hold it back.

13 March 2007 | 7:18 | No Comments

Horace Greeley

The darkest hour in any man’s life is when he sits down to plan how to get money without earning it.

12 March 2007 | 22:02 | No Comments

Karl Popper

Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve.

11 March 2007 | 13:01 | No Comments

Emily Dickinson

There is a solitude of space

There is a solitude of space
A solitude of sea
A solitude of death, but these
Society shall be
Compared with that profounder site
That polar privacy
A soul admitted to itself —
Finite infinity.

10 March 2007 | 7:44 | No Comments

Thomas Babington Macaulay

of John Dryden

His imagination resembled the wings of an ostrich. It enabled him to run, though not to soar.

9 March 2007 | 1:27 | No Comments

African proverb

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up.
It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.
Every morning a lion wakes up.
It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle.
When the sun comes up, you better start running.

8 March 2007 | 8:20 | No Comments

A A Milne

James James
Morrison Morrisson
Weatherby George Dupree
Took great care of his mother
Though he was only three.
James James said to his mother
Mother he said, said he:
You mustn’t go down to the end of the town if you don’t go down with me.
James James Morrison’s Mother
Put on a golden gown.
James James Morrison’s Mother
Went to the end of the town
James James Morrison’s Mother
Said to herself, said she:
I can go right down to the end of the town and be back in time for tea!

7 March 2007 | 21:01 | No Comments

Siegbert Tarrasch

What is the object of playing a gambit opening?… To acquire a reputation of being a dashing player at the cost of losing a game.

6 March 2007 | 7:35 | No Comments

Charles Kettering

An inventor is simply a fellow who doesn’t take his education too seriously.

5 March 2007 | 7:52 | No Comments

Sir Isaac Newton

I can calculate the movement of the stars, but not the madness of men

4 March 2007 | 21:46 | No Comments

Jenny Joseph


There are some coasts
Where the sea comes in spectacularly
Throwing itself up gullies, challenging cliffs,
Filling the harbours with great swirls and flourish,
A theatrical event that people gather for
Curtain up twice daily. You need to know
The hour of its starting, you have to be on guard.

There are other places
Places where you do not really notice
The gradual stretch of the fertile silk of water
No gurgling or dashings here, no froth no pounding
Only at some point the echo may sound different
And looking by chance one sees ‘Oh the tide is in.’

3 March 2007 | 18:21 | No Comments

Friedrich Nietzsche

The small force that it takes to launch a boat into the stream should not be confused with the force of the stream that carries it along: but this confusion appears in nearly all biographies.

2 March 2007 | 7:30 | No Comments

Chuck Palahniuk

Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everybody I’ve ever known.

1 March 2007 | 23:41 | No Comments

X J Kennedy

I rang them up whilst touring Timbuctoo,
Those bosom chums to whom you’re known as “Who?”

28 February 2007 | 7:46 | No Comments

T E Lawrence

There could be no honor in a sure success, but much might be wrested from a sure defeat.

27 February 2007 | 7:12 | No Comments

P G Wodehouse

And as he, too, seemed disinclined for chit-chat, we stood for some moments like a couple of Trappist monks who have run into each other at the dog races.

26 February 2007 | 21:09 | No Comments

Don Paterson

No fury more righteous than that of a sinner accused of the wrong sin.

25 February 2007 | 18:27 | No Comments

Robert Southey

To a Goose

If thou didst feed on western plains of yore;
Or waddle wide with flat and flabby feet
Over some Cambrian mountain’s plashy moor;
Or find in farmer’s yard a safe retreat
From gipsy thieves, and foxes sly and fleet;
If thy grey quills, by lawyer guided, trace
Deeds big with ruin to some wretched race,
Or love-sick poet’s sonnet, sad and sweet,
Wailing the rigour of his lady fair;
Or if, the drudge of housemaid’s daily toil,
Cobwebs and dust thy pinions white besoil,
Departed Goose! I neither know nor care.
But this I know, that thou wert very fine,
Season’d with sage and onions, and port wine.

24 February 2007 | 17:45 | No Comments

Colin Chapman

Simplicate, then add lightness

Colin Chapman was the founder of Lotus cars and the Team Lotus Formula 1 team.

23 February 2007 | 8:07 | No Comments

Jonathan Swift

I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed.

22 February 2007 | 19:36 | No Comments

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Work without Hope
Lines composed 21st February 1825

All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair–
The bees are stirring–birds are on the wing–
And winter slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring !
And I, the while, the sole unbusy thing,
Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.
Yet well I ken the banks where Amaranths blow,
Have traced the fount whence streams of nectar flow.
Bloom, O ye Amaranths ! bloom for whom ye may,
For me ye bloom not ! Glide, rich streams, away !
With lips unbrightened, wreathless brow, I stroll :
And would you learn the spells that drowse my soul ?
Work without ho draws nectar in a sieve,
And hope without an object cannot live.

21 February 2007 | 8:05 | No Comments

Norwegian Proverb

There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.

20 February 2007 | 20:24 | 1 Comment

Ernst Mach

Explanation is nothing but condensed descriptions.

19 February 2007 | 20:33 | No Comments

Thomas à Kempis

Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.

18 February 2007 | 8:42 | No Comments

Louis MacNeice

The Taxis

In the first taxi he was alone tra-la,
No extras on the clock. He tipped ninepence
But the cabby, while he thanked him, looked askance
As though to suggest someone had bummed a ride.

In the second taxi he was alone tra-la
But the clock showed sixpence extra; he tipped according
And the cabby from out his muffler said: ‘Make sure
You have left nothing behind tra-la between you.’

In the third taxi he was alone tra-la
But the tip-up seats were down and there was an extra
Charge of one-and-sixpence and an odd
Scent that reminded him of a trip to

As for the fourth taxi, he was alone
Tra-la when he hailed it but the cabby looked
Through him and said: ‘I can’t tra-la well take
So many people, not to speak of the dog.

17 February 2007 | 11:31 | No Comments

Albert Einstein

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

15 February 2007 | 16:00 | No Comments

Ogden Nash

To My Valentine

More than a catbird hates a cat,
Or a criminal hates a clue,
Or the Axis hates the United States,
That’s how much I love you.
I love you more than a duck can swim,
And more than a grapefruit squirts,
I love you more than a gin rummy is a bore,
And more than a toothache hurts.
As a shipwrecked sailor hates the sea,
Or a juggler hates a shove,
As a hostess detests unexpected guests,
That’s how much you I love.
I love you more than a wasp can sting,
And more than the subway jerks,
I love you as much as a beggar needs a crutch,
And more than a hangnail irks.
I swear to you by the stars above,
And below, if such there be,
As the High Court loathes perjurious oathes,
That’s how you’re loved by me.

14 February 2007 | 8:08 | No Comments

Fyodor Dostoevsky

The second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half.

13 February 2007 | 20:26 | No Comments

The Football Association

The original Football Association Laws of 1863:

1. The maximum length of the ground shall be 200 yards, the maximum breadth shall be 100 yards, the length and breadth shall be marked off with flags; and the goal shall be defined by two upright posts, eight yards apart, without any tape or bar across them.

2. A toss for goals shall take place, and the game shall be commenced by a place kick from the centre of the ground by the side losing the toss for goals; the other side shall not approach within 10 yards of the ball until it is kicked off.

3. After a goal is won, the losing side shall be entitled to kick off, and the two sides shall change goals after each goal is won.

4. A goal shall be won when the ball passes between the goal-posts or over the space between the goal-posts (at whatever height), not being thrown, knocked on, or carried.

5. When the ball is in touch, the first player who touches it shall throw it from the point on the boundary line where it left the ground in a direction at right angles with the boundary line, and the ball shall not be in play until it has touched the ground.

6. When a player has kicked the ball, any one of the same side who is nearer to the opponent’s goal line is out of play, and may not touch the ball himself, nor in any way whatever prevent any other player from doing so, until he is in play; but no player is out of play when the ball is kicked off from behind the goal line.

7. In case the ball goes behind the goal line, if a player on the side to whom the goal belongs first touches the ball, one of his side shall he entitled to a free kick from the goal line at the point opposite the place where the ball shall be touched. If a player of the opposite side first touches the ball, one of his side shall be entitled to a free kick at the goal only from a point 15 yards outside the goal line, opposite the place where the ball is touched, the opposing side standing within their goal line until he has had his kick.

8. If a player makes a fair catch, he shall be entitled to a free kick, providing he claims it by making a mark with his heel at once; and in order to take such kick he may go back as far as he pleases, and no player on the opposite side shall advance beyond his mark until he has kicked.

9. No player shall run with the ball.

10. Neither tripping nor hacking shall be allowed, and no player shall use his hands to hold or push his adversary.

11. A player shall not be allowed to throw the ball or pass it to another with his hands.

12. No player shall be allowed to take the ball from the ground with his hands under any pretence whatever while it is in play.

13. No player shall be allowed to wear projecting nails, iron plates, or gutta-percha on the soles or heels of his boots.

12 February 2007 | 8:09 | No Comments

Henri-Frederic Amiel

The only substance properly so called is the soul.

11 February 2007 | 12:39 | No Comments

Edwin Morgan

14 variations on 14 words

I have nothing to say and I am saying it and that is poetry.” John Cage

I have to say poetry and is that nothing and I am saying it
I am and I have poetry to say and is that nothing saying it
I am nothing and I have poetry to say and that is saying it
I that am saying poetry have nothing and it is I and to say
And I say that I am to have poetry and saying it is nothing
I am poetry and nothing and saying it is to say that I have
To have nothing is poetry and I am saying that and I say it
Poetry is saying I have nothing and I am to say that and it
Saying nothing I am poetry and I have to say that and it is
It is and I am and I have poetry saying say that to nothing
It is saying poetry to nothing and I say I have and am that
Poetry is saying I have it and I am nothing and to say that
And that nothing is poetry I am saying and I have to say it
Saying poetry is nothing and to that I say I am and have it

10 February 2007 | 11:47 | No Comments

James Michener

Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.

9 February 2007 | 19:14 | No Comments

Daniel Clowes

In some ways, I never outgrew my adolescence. I wake up in the morning and think, ‘Oh my God, I’m late for a math test!’ But then I say, ‘Wait a minute. I’m 40.’

8 February 2007 | 14:14 | 1 Comment

Siegbert Tarrasch

Before the endgame, the Gods have placed the middle game.

7 February 2007 | 23:23 | No Comments

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

A small garden, figs, a little cheese, and, along with this, three or four good friends; such was luxury to Epicurus.

6 February 2007 | 22:22 | No Comments


Have patience. All things are difficult before they become easy.

5 February 2007 | 7:56 | No Comments

Charles Darwin

A mathematician is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat which isn’t there.

4 February 2007 | 10:08 | 1 Comment

W E Henley


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

3 February 2007 | 12:38 | No Comments

J B S Haldane

Four stages of acceptance:
i) this is worthless nonsense;
ii) this is an interesting, but perverse, point of view;
iii) this is true, but quite unimportant;
iv) I always said so.

2 February 2007 | 8:26 | No Comments

Boris Johnson

I could not fail to disagree with you less.

1 February 2007 | 6:54 | No Comments

A A Milne

Cottleston, cottleston, cottleston pie,
A fly can’t bird, but a bird can fly.
Ask me a riddle and I reply,
Cottleston, cottleston, cottleston pie.

31 January 2007 | 7:07 | No Comments

Donald Creighton

History is the record of an encounter between character and circumstances.

30 January 2007 | 7:14 | No Comments

Thomas De Quincey

If once a man indulges himself in murder, very soon he comes to think little of robbing; and from robbing he comes next to drinking and Sabbath-breaking, and from that to incivility and procrastination.

29 January 2007 | 7:29 | No Comments

Russian Proverb

The wise man has long ears, big eyes and a short tongue.

28 January 2007 | 8:41 | No Comments

Philip Larkin


The difficult part of love
Is being selfish enough,
Is having the blind persistence
To upset an existence
Just for your own sake.
What cheek it must take.

And then the unselfish side-
How can you be satisfied,
Putting someone else first
So that you come off worst?
My life is for me.
As well ignore gravity.

Still, vicious or virtuous,
Love suits most of us.
Only the bleeder found
Selfish this wrong way round
Is ever wholly rebuffed,
And he can get stuffed.

27 January 2007 | 13:43 | 1 Comment


Take this for a general rule: every decision that is established so strongly that it may not be changed under any possible circumstance, that decision, I say, is wicked.

26 January 2007 | 7:56 | No Comments

Thorstein Veblen

The outcome of any serious research can only be to make two questions grow where only one grew before.

25 January 2007 | 7:50 | No Comments

Bruce Cockburn

Arrows Of Light

Arrows of light, come
Pierce my soul
Pierce my soul

Breath of the bright wind
Make us one
Make us one

Life is singing
Like a great bell ringing

24 January 2007 | 7:41 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity.

23 January 2007 | 5:33 | No Comments

Isaac Bashevis Singer

We must believe in free will – we have no choice.

22 January 2007 | 7:57 | No Comments

William Pitt

The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the Crown. It may be frail, its roof may shake; the wind may blow through it; the storm may enter, the rain may enter – but the King of England cannot enter; all his force dares not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement!

21 January 2007 | 12:43 | No Comments

Elizabeth Jennings


I keep my answers small and keep them near;
Big questions bruised my mind but still I let
Small answers be a bulwark to my fear.

The huge abstractions I keep from the light;
Small things I handled and caressed and loved.
I let the stars assume the whole of night.

But the big answers clamoured to be moved
Into my life. Their great audacity
Shouted to be acknowledged and believed.

Even when all small answers build up to
Protection of my spirit, I still hear
Big answers striving for their overthrow

And all the great conclusions coming near.

20 January 2007 | 18:53 | No Comments

Thomas Edison

I didn’t fail 12,000 times inventing the light bulb. I found 12,000 ways not to invent the light bulb.

19 January 2007 | 7:52 | No Comments

C S Lewis

The most dangerous thing you can do is to take any one impulse of your own nature and set it up as the thing you ought to follow at all costs. There’s not one of them which won’t make us into devils if we set it up as an absolute guide. You might think love of humanity in general was safe, but it isn’t. If you leave out justice you’ll find yourself breaking agreements and faking evidence in trials “for the sake of humanity” and become in the end a cruel and treacherous man.

18 January 2007 | 16:28 | No Comments

John Wesley

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as you ever can.

17 January 2007 | 8:06 | No Comments

Charles II

I am definitely the best King in England at the moment.

16 January 2007 | 22:00 | No Comments

Yiddish proverb

Three things can’t be hidden: poverty, love and coughing.

15 January 2007 | 6:59 | No Comments

Otto von Bismarck

In order to retain a certain respect for sausages and laws, one must not see them being made.

14 January 2007 | 8:21 | No Comments

Oshima Ryota

Night Growing Late

Night Growing Late
Sound of charcoal
broken on charcoal

Oh this hectic world
Three whole days
unseen the cherry blossom

Bad tempered
I got back
Then in the garden the willow tree

Then look at the light
Yes there is a wind
This night of snow

13 January 2007 | 8:57 | No Comments

Malcolm Muggeridge

…it was like sending a criminal who has broken all the laws in one country into another where the laws were different in the expectation that there he would be law abiding.

12 January 2007 | 8:14 | No Comments

Robert Louis Stevenson

There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it behoves all of us not to talk about the rest of us.

11 January 2007 | 7:25 | No Comments

Maureen Lipman

My Ocelot would laugh a lot
And when he was elated
His fur would shake his nostrils quake
Until he oscillated

10 January 2007 | 7:35 | No Comments

Risk Management

The fire at the manufacturing plant was due to friction caused by a large inventory rubbing up against an Insurance policy.

9 January 2007 | 7:37 | No Comments

William Morris

Simplicity of life, even the barest, is not a misery, but the very foundation of refinement: a sanded floor and whitewashed walls, and the green trees, and flowery meads, and living waters outside; or a grimy palace amid the smoke with a regiment of housemaids always working to smear the dirt together so that it may be unnoticed; which, think you, is the most refined, the most fit for a gentleman of those two dwellings?

8 January 2007 | 7:25 | No Comments

Ralph Waldo Emerson

All that Shakespeare says of the king, yonder slip of a boy that reads in the corner feels to be true of himself.

7 January 2007 | 11:40 | No Comments

For William Harrison, Mariner

Long time I ploughed the ocean wide,
A life of toil I spent;
But now in harbour safe arrived
From care and discontent.

My anchor’s cast, my sails are furled,
And now I am at rest;
Of all the ports throughout the world,
Sailors, this is the best.

(in Hessle Cemetery, Hull)

6 January 2007 | 13:36 | No Comments

Albert Einstein

I have no special talents I am only passionately curious.

5 January 2007 | 7:17 | No Comments

Thomas Carlyle

History: a distillation of rumour.

4 January 2007 | 7:14 | No Comments

Christopher Logue

Come to the edge.
We might fall.
Come to the edge.
It’s too high!
And they came,
and he pushed,
And they flew.

3 January 2007 | 7:58 | No Comments

Peter Fischli & David Weiss

How to work better.

1. Do one thing at a time
2. Know the problem
3. Learn to listen
4. Learn to ask questions.
5. Distinguish sense from nonsense
6. Accept change as inevitable
7. Admit mistakes
8. Say it simple
9. Be calm
10. Smile

Peter Fischli & David Weiss

2 January 2007 | 7:42 | No Comments


All beginnings are delightful and the threshold is the place to pause.

1 January 2007 | 10:09 | No Comments

Lord John Whorfin

History is made at night. Character is what you are in the dark.

31 December 2006 | 8:04 | No Comments

John Masefield

An Epilogue

I have seen flowers come in stony places
And kind things done by men with ugly faces,
And the gold cup won by the worst horse at the races,
So I trust, too.

30 December 2006 | 9:54 | No Comments

Thomas Aquinas

In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the sovereign, Secondly, a just cause, Thirdly, a rightful intention.

29 December 2006 | 7:02 | No Comments

George Macdonald

Work is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness – the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected.

28 December 2006 | 8:26 | No Comments

Mariam Masri

… You ask me if i love you
I discover you love questions
and love me
I answer I love you
so don’t ask me more
for i don’t want to discover that you love questions only….

27 December 2006 | 8:27 | No Comments

Samuel Johnson

A man is in general better pleased when he has a good dinner upon his table, than when his wife talks Greek.

26 December 2006 | 8:52 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?

25 December 2006 | 11:24 | No Comments


Look and you will find it – what is unsought will go undetected.

24 December 2006 | 14:34 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

The House of Christmas

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay on their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost – how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky’s dome.

This world is wild as an old wives’ tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

23 December 2006 | 11:38 | No Comments

Booker T Washington

Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.

22 December 2006 | 7:19 | No Comments

If only…

If we had ham, we could have ham and eggs – if we had eggs.

21 December 2006 | 5:42 | No Comments

Ogden Nash

The Hippopotamus

Behold the hippopotamus!
We laugh at how he looks to us,
And yet in moments dank and grim,
I wonder how we look to him.

Peace, peace, thou hippopotamus!
We really look all right to us,
As you no doubt delight the eye
Of other hippopotami.

20 December 2006 | 7:52 | No Comments

David Ogilvy

When someone is made the head of an office in the Ogilvy & Mather chain, I send him a Matrioshka doll from Gorky. If he has the curiosity to open it, and keep opening it until he comes to the inside of the smallest doll, he finds this message: If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.

19 December 2006 | 7:33 | No Comments

Benjamin Disraeli

Life is too short to be small.

18 December 2006 | 7:26 | No Comments

David Lloyd George

Don’t be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.

17 December 2006 | 8:14 | No Comments

Robert Frost

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know,
His house is in the village though.
He will not see me stopping here,
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer,
To stop without a farmhouse near,
Between the woods and frozen lake,
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake,
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep,
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

16 December 2006 | 7:12 | No Comments

Ernest Rutherford

All science is either physics or stamp collecting.

15 December 2006 | 8:14 | No Comments

Changing Language

When Charles II saw Christopher Wren’s St. Paul’s Cathedral for the first time, he called it “awful, pompous, and artificial.” Meaning roughly: Awesome, majestic, and ingenious.

14 December 2006 | 8:25 | No Comments

Edmund Clerihew Bentley

Sir Christopher Wren
Said, “I am going to dine with some men.
If anyone calls,
Say I am designing St Paul’s.

13 December 2006 | 13:40 | 2 Comments

John Ray

Love thy neighbor, but pull not down thy hedge.

12 December 2006 | 8:42 | No Comments

Geoffrey Chaucer

The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne.

11 December 2006 | 8:23 | No Comments

Frank Wilczek

If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not working on hard enough problems. And that’s a big mistake.

10 December 2006 | 7:41 | No Comments

Roger McGough

A Dada Christmas Catalogue

A chocolate comb
A can of worms opener
A non-stick frying pan
Two sticky frying pans
A book end
Abrasive partridges
An inflatable fridge
Nervous door handles
A mobile phone booth
An overnight tea-bag
Day-glo tippex
Underwater ash-tray
15 amp bath plug
Pair of socks. Identical but for the colour
Box of Tunisian (past their sell-by) dates
See-through elastoplasts
Nasal floss (unwaxed)
A canteen of magnetic cutlery
A hip joint
A groovy cartiledge
Three way mirror
Not a pipe

9 December 2006 | 7:53 | No Comments

Augustine of Hippo

If you would attain to what you are not yet, you must always be displeased by what you are. For where you are pleased with yourself there you have remained. Keep adding, keep walking, keep advancing.

8 December 2006 | 8:46 | No Comments

Joe Ancis

The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.

7 December 2006 | 13:40 | No Comments

Kit Wright

Red Boots On

Way down Geneva
All along Vine,
Deeper than the snowdrift
Love’s eyes shine:

Mary Lou’s walking
In the winter time.

She’s got

Red boots on, she’s got
red boots on,
Kicking up winter
Till the winter’s gone.


Go by Ontario,
Look down Main,
If you can’t find Mary Lou.
Come back again:

Sweet light burning
in winter’s flame.

She’s got

Snow in her eyes, got
a tingle in her toes
and new red boots on
wherever she goes.


All around Lake Street,
Up by St. Paul,
Quicker than the white wind
Love takes all:

Mary Lou’s walking
In the big snow fall.

She’s got

Red boots on, she’s got
red boots on,
Kicking up winter
Till the winter’s gone.

6 December 2006 | 6:31 | 2 Comments

Jorge Luis Borges

The original is unfaithful to the translation.

5 December 2006 | 7:38 | No Comments

John Maynard Keynes

Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking.

4 December 2006 | 15:22 | No Comments

Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are, like Nebuchadnezzar, dethroned, bereft of reason, and eating grass like an ox.

3 December 2006 | 12:26 | No Comments

George Herbert

The Quiddity

My God, a verse is not a crown,
No point of honour, or gay suit,
No hawk, or banquet, or renown,
Nor a good sword, nor yet a lute.

It cannot vault, or dance, or play ;
It never was in France or Spain ;
Nor can it entertain the day
With a great stable or domain.

It is no office, art, or news ;
Nor the Exchange, or busy Hall :
But it is that which, while I use,
I am with Thee : and Most take all.

2 December 2006 | 8:14 | No Comments

Nicolas Clerihew Bentley

He followed in his father’s footsteps, but his gait was somewhat erratic.

1 December 2006 | 7:40 | Comments Off on Nicolas Clerihew Bentley

T E Hulme


Old houses were scaffolding once
and workmen whistling.

30 November 2006 | 7:38 | No Comments

Piet Hein


Commutative Law

No cow’s like a horse,
and no horse like a cow.
That’s one similarity

29 November 2006 | 7:44 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’ and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotny. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.

28 November 2006 | 21:14 | No Comments

Joseph Cossman

If you want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today.

27 November 2006 | 8:01 | No Comments

David Viscott

To love and to be loved is to feel the sun from both sides.

26 November 2006 | 10:43 | No Comments

William Strode

A Riddle: On A Kiss

What thing is that, nor felt nor seene
Till it bee given? a present for a Queene:
A fine conceite to give and take the like:
The giver yet is farther for to seeke;
The taker doth possesse nothing the more,
The giver hee hath nothing lesse in store:
And given once that nature hath it still,
You cannot keepe or leave it if you will:
The workmanshippe is counted very small,
The labour is esteemed naught at all:
But to conclude, this gift is such indeede,
That, if some see’t ’twill make theyr hearts to bleede.

25 November 2006 | 13:32 | No Comments

Charles Kinsley

We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.

24 November 2006 | 8:12 | No Comments

John Dewey

Anyone who has begun to think, places some portion of the world in jeopardy.

23 November 2006 | 7:10 | No Comments

Lewis Carroll

How Doth the Little Crocodile

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws!

22 November 2006 | 7:24 | No Comments

Lord Franks

It is a secret in the Oxford sense. You may tell it to only one person at a time.

21 November 2006 | 7:25 | No Comments

Princess Marie Louise

When I left the room after sitting next to Mr. Gladstone, I thought he was the cleverest man in England. But after sitting next to Mr. Disraeli, I thought I was the cleverest woman in England.

20 November 2006 | 8:01 | No Comments

C S Lewis

.. . and almost at the same moment I knew that I had met this before, long, long ago (it hardly seems longer now) . . . And with that plunge back into my own past there arose at once, almost like heartbreak, the memory of Joy itself, the knowledge that I had once had what I had now for years, that I was returning at last from exile and desert lands to my own country; and the distance of the Twilight of the Gods and the distance of my own past Joy, both unattainable, flowed together into a single, unendurable sense of desire and loss, which suddenly became one with the loss of the whole experience, which, as I now stared round that dusty schoolroom like a man recovering from unconsciousness, had already vanished, had eluded me at the very moment when I could first say It is. And at once I knew (with fatal knowledge) that to “have it again” was the supreme and only important object of desire.

19 November 2006 | 8:42 | No Comments

T E Hulme

The Embankment

(The fantasia of a fallen gentleman on a cold, bitter night.)

Once, in finesse of fiddles found I ecstasy,
In the flash of gold heels on the hard pavement.
Now see I
That warmth’s the very stuff of poesy.
Oh, God, make small
The old star-eaten blanket of the sky,
That I may fold it round me and in comfort lie.

18 November 2006 | 14:55 | No Comments

Jewish Proverb

Nothing is difficult, you only need to know how.

17 November 2006 | 7:52 | No Comments

Benedict De Spinoza

All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.

16 November 2006 | 7:14 | No Comments

Marchette Gaylord Chute


You can’t see fairies unless you’re good.
That’s what Nurse said to me.
They live in the smoke of the chimney,
Or down in the roots of a tree;
They brush their wings on a tulip,
Or hide behind a pea.

But you can’t see fairies unless you’re good,
So they aren’t much use to me.

15 November 2006 | 7:08 | No Comments

Rex Todhunter Stout

I don’t answer questions containing two or more unsupported assumptions.

14 November 2006 | 9:54 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

‘Free verse’? You may as well call sleeping in a ditch ‘free architecture.’

13 November 2006 | 7:27 | No Comments

Beverly D’Onfrio

One day can make your life, one day can ruin your life. All life is, is four or five days that can change everything.

12 November 2006 | 10:03 | No Comments

X J Kennedy

Nude Descending a Staircase

Toe upon toe, a snowing flesh,
A gold of lemon, root and rind,
She sifts in sunlight down the stairs
With nothing on. Nor on her mind.

We spy beneath the banister
A constant thresh of thigh on thigh.
Her lips imprint the swinging air
That parts to let her parts go by.

One-woman waterfall, she wears
Her slow descent like a long cape
And pausing, on the final stair
Collects her motions into shape.

Inspired by the Marcel Duchamp painting of the same title which can be seen here.

11 November 2006 | 14:14 | No Comments

C S Lewis

Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness.

10 November 2006 | 8:56 | No Comments

Michel De Montaigne

Age imprints more wrinkles in the mind than it does on the face.

9 November 2006 | 7:17 | No Comments

Rudyard Kipling

The Idiot Boy

He wandered down the moutain grade
Beyond the speed assigned–
A youth whom Justice often stayed
And generally fined.

He went alone, that none might know
If he could drive or steer.
Now he is in the ditch, and Oh!
The differential gear!

8 November 2006 | 7:08 | No Comments

Mark Twain

You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth.

Opening lines of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”

7 November 2006 | 7:15 | No Comments

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The imitator dooms himself to hopeless mediocrity. The inventor did it because it was natural to him, and so in him it has a charm. In the imitator something else is natural, and he bereaves himself of his own beauty, to come short of another man’s.

6 November 2006 | 8:05 | No Comments

Robert Heinlein

I never learned from a man who agreed with me.

5 November 2006 | 10:13 | No Comments

Andrew Marvel

The Definition of Love

My Love is of a birth as rare
As ’tis, for object, strange and high;
It was begotten by Despair
Upon Impossibility.

Magnanimous Despair alone
Could show me so divine a thing,
Where feeble Hope could ne’er have flown
But vainly flapped its tinsel wing.

And yet I quickly might arrive
Where my extended soul is fixed;
But Fate does iron wedges drive,
And always crowd itself betwixt.

For Fate with jealous eye does see
Two perfect loves, no lets them close;
Their union would her ruin be,
And her tyrannic power depose.

And therefore her decress of steel
Us as the distant poles have placed
(Though Love’s whole world on us doth wheel),
Not by themselves to be embraced,

Unless the giddy heaven fall,
And earth some new convulsion tear,
And, us to join, the world should all
Be cramped into a planisphere.

As lines, so loves oblique may well
Themselves in every angle greet;
BUt ours, so truly parallel,
Though infinite, can never meet.

Therefore the love which us doth bind,
But Fate so enviously debars,
Is the conjunction of the mind,
And opposition of the stars.

4 November 2006 | 16:48 | No Comments

Michel de Montaigne

Even on the most exalted throne in the world we are only sitting on our own bottom.

3 November 2006 | 9:09 | No Comments

Will Rogers

An ignorant person is one who doesn’t know what you have just found out.

2 November 2006 | 7:26 | No Comments

Judith Nicholls

The Romans in Britain
(A history in forty words)

The Romans gave us aqueducts,
fine buildings and straight roads,
where all those Roman legionaries
marched with heavy loads.

They gave us central heating,
good laws a peaceful home –
then after just four centuries
they shuffled back to Rome.

1 November 2006 | 14:48 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

Fairy tales are more than true – not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.

31 October 2006 | 7:32 | No Comments

G E Moore

Moore’s Paradox

It is raining but I don’t believe that it is.

30 October 2006 | 6:17 | No Comments

P G Wodehouse

… I turned to Aunt Agatha, whose demeanour was now rather like that of one who, picking daisies on the railway, has just caught the down express in the small of the back.

29 October 2006 | 7:08 | No Comments

Michael Donaghy


Dearest, note how these two are alike:
This harpsichord pavane by Purcell
And the racer’s twelve-speed bike.

The machinery of grace is always simple.
This chrome trapezoid, one wheel connected
To another of concentric gears,
Which Ptolemy dreamt of and Schwinn perfected,
Is gone. The cyclist, not the cycle, steers.
And in the playing, Purcell’s chords are played away.

So this talk, or touch if I were there,
Should work its effortless gadgetry of love,
Like Dante’s heaven, and melt into the air.

If it doesn’t, of course, I’ve fallen. So much is chance,
So much agility, desire, and feverish care,
As bicyclists and harpsichordists prove
Who only by moving can balance,
Only by balancing move.

28 October 2006 | 12:13 | No Comments

Soren Kierkegaard

The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins.

27 October 2006 | 7:11 | No Comments

Ralph Charel

Avoid the crowd. Do your own thinking independently. Be the chess player, not the chess piece.

26 October 2006 | 10:27 | No Comments

James Russell Lowell

There is no good in arguing with the inevitable. The only argument available with an east wind is to put on your overcoat.

24 October 2006 | 7:50 | No Comments

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tobacco, coffee, alcohol, hashish, prussic acid, strychnine, are weak dilutions; the surest poison is time.

23 October 2006 | 8:01 | No Comments


This is slavery, not to speak one’s thought.

22 October 2006 | 10:21 | No Comments

Richard Wilbur

A Barred Owl

The warping night-air having brought the boom
Of an owl’s voice into her darkened room,
We tell the wakened child that all she heard
Was an odd question from a forest bird,
Asking of us, if rightly listened to,
“Who cooks for you?” and then “Who cooks for you?”

Words, which can make our terrors bravely clear,
Can also thus domesticate a fear,
And send a small child back to sleep at night
Not listening for the sound of stealthy flight
Or dreaming of some small thing in a claw
Borne up to some dark branch and eaten raw.

21 October 2006 | 15:41 | No Comments

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Poetry must be new as foam, and as old as the rock.

20 October 2006 | 7:19 | No Comments

Elizabeth Barret Browning

The earth is crammed with heaven and every common bush afire with God, but only those with eyes to see take off their shoes, the rest sit around and pluck blackberries.

19 October 2006 | 7:56 | No Comments

Piet Hein

People are self-centered
to a nauseous degree.
They will keep on about themselves
while I’m explaining me.

18 October 2006 | 8:36 | No Comments

Wendell Johnson

Always and never are two words you should always remember never to use.

17 October 2006 | 7:23 | No Comments

J M Barrie

It is all very well to be able to write books, but can you waggle your ears?

said to H.G. Wells.

16 October 2006 | 8:06 | No Comments

Bertrand Russell

Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.

15 October 2006 | 8:20 | No Comments

Anthony Thwaite

Simple Poem

I shall make it simple so you understand.
Making it simple will make it clear for me.
When you have read it, take me by the hand
As children do, loving simplicity.

This is the simple poem I have made.
Tell me you understand. But when you do
Don’t ask me in return if I have said
All that I meant, or whether it is true.

14 October 2006 | 10:18 | No Comments

Ashleigh Ellwood Brilliant

My sources are unreliable, but their information is fascinating.

13 October 2006 | 9:55 | No Comments

Michael Scott on Feynman

There were 183 of us freshmen, and a bowling ball hanging from the three – story ceiling to just above the floor. Feynman walked in and, without a word, grabbed the ball and backed against the wall with the ball touching his nose. He let go, and the ball swung slowly 60 feet across the room and back – stopping naturally just short of crushing his face. Then he took the ball again, stepped forward, and said: “I wanted to show you that I believe in what I’m going to teach you over the next two years.”

12 October 2006 | 7:51 | Comments Off on Michael Scott on Feynman

Rudyard Kipling

Down to Gehenna or up to the Throne,
He travels fastest who travels alone.

11 October 2006 | 7:22 | No Comments

P. G. Wodehouse

If not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.

10 October 2006 | 10:47 | No Comments

Mark Twain

Be respectful to your superiors, if you have any.

9 October 2006 | 8:49 | No Comments

Thomas Edison

Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.

8 October 2006 | 13:26 | No Comments

James Fenton

The Ideal

This is where I came from.
I passed this way.
This should not be shameful
Or hard to say.

A self is a self.
It is not a screen.
A person should respect
What he has been.

This is my past
Which I shall not discard.
This is the ideal.
This is hard.

7 October 2006 | 19:28 | No Comments

Ralph Waldo Emerson

A man builds a fine house; and now he has a master, and a task for life: he is to furnish, watch, show it, and keep it in repair, the rest of his days.

6 October 2006 | 19:01 | No Comments

Siegbert Tarrasch

One doesn’t have to play well, it’s enough to play better than your opponent.

5 October 2006 | 19:46 | No Comments

Fleur Adcock

Halfway Street, Sidcup

We did sums at school, Mummy –
You do them like this: look – I showed her.

It turned out she knew already .

4 October 2006 | 9:16 | No Comments

Fernando de Rojas

No one is so old that he cannot live yet another year, nor so young that he cannot die today.

3 October 2006 | 20:08 | No Comments

Jorge Luis Borges

The fact is that poetry is not the books in the library . . . Poetry is the encounter of the reader with the book, the discovery of the book.

2 October 2006 | 7:22 | No Comments

William Jennings Bryan

Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.

1 October 2006 | 8:22 | No Comments

Walter Savage Landor


Alas, how soon the hours are over
Counted us out to play the lover!
And how much narrower is the stage
Allotted us to play the sage!
But when we play the fool, how wide
The theatre expands! beside,
How long the audience sits before us!
How many prompters! what a chorus!

30 September 2006 | 11:45 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

It is the one great weakness of journalism as a picture of our modern existence, that it must be a picture made up entirely of exceptions. We announce on flaring posters that a man has fallen off a scaffolding. We do not announce on flaring posters that a man has not fallen off a scaffolding. Yet this latter fact is fundamentally more exciting, as indicating that that moving tower of terror and mystery, a man, is still abroad upon the earth. That the man has not fallen off a scaffolding is really more sensational; and it is also some thousand times more common. But journalism cannot reasonably be expected thus to insist upon the permanent miracles. Busy editors cannot be expected to put on their posters, “Mr. Wilkinson Still Safe,” or “Mr. Jones, of Worthing, Not Dead Yet.” They cannot announce the happiness of mankind at all. They cannot describe all the forks that are not stolen, or all the marriages that are not judiciously dissolved. Hence the complex picture they give of life is of necessity fallacious; they can only represent what is unusual. However democratic they may be, they are only concerned with the minority.

29 September 2006 | 7:17 | No Comments

H G Wells

Whilst there is a chance of the world getting through its troubles, I hold that a reasonable man has to behave as though he were sure of it. If at the end your cheerfulness is not justified, at any rate you will have been cheerful.

28 September 2006 | 11:38 | No Comments

Sent Scent

A bottle of perfume that Willie sent
Was highly displeasing to Millicent.
Her thanks were so cold,
That they quarrelled, I’m told
‘Cause Willie sent Millicent silly scent.

27 September 2006 | 0:21 | No Comments

Andrew Jackson

It’s a damned poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.

26 September 2006 | 8:06 | No Comments

William Feather

Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.

25 September 2006 | 7:37 | No Comments

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Never read any book that is not a year old.

24 September 2006 | 10:59 | No Comments

Judith Saunders

Mathematicians at Work

hunker down on their hands and knees
and sniff the problem
poke it with ungentle fingers
rub it raw with steel wool
wad it up in a ball and cackle
then pound it flat with little mallets
watch it rise like dough (uh oh)
resume its original shape
screech, swing at it with hatchets
spatter the walls with oozing fragments
stare horrified at the shattered bits
reassembling themselves, jump up
attack the problem with icepicks
gouge holes six inches deep
and seven inches across
(chew the mangled matter
spit it out and belch) kick the thing
into a corner, remove their belts
and beat it senseless, walk off
with the answer in their pockets.

23 September 2006 | 13:53 | No Comments

George Eliot

I like not only to be loved, but also to be told that I am loved. I am not sure that you are of the same kind. But the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave. This is the world of literature and speech and I shall take leave to tell you that you are very dear.

22 September 2006 | 9:15 | No Comments

Friedrich Nietzsche

The irrationality of a thing is no argument against its existence, rather a condition of it.

21 September 2006 | 8:58 | No Comments

Wendy Cope

He Tells Her

He tells her that the earth is flat –
He knows the facts, and that is that.
In altercations fierce and long
She tries her best to prove him wrong.
But he has learned to argue well.
He calls her arguments unsound
And often asks her not to yell.
She cannot win. He stands his ground.

The planet goes on being round.

20 September 2006 | 13:08 | No Comments

Jules Renard

If you are afraid of being lonely, don’t try to be right.

19 September 2006 | 20:52 | 1 Comment

G K Chesterton

Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference, which is an elegant name for ignorance

18 September 2006 | 6:57 | No Comments

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

To know of someone here and there whom we accord with, who is living on with us, even in silence -this makes our earthly ball a peopled garden.

17 September 2006 | 8:19 | Comments Off on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Crossing the Bar

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

16 September 2006 | 9:20 | No Comments

Mahalia Jackson

It’s easy to be independent when you’ve got money. But to be independent when you haven’t got a thing, that’s the Lord’s test.

14 September 2006 | 6:23 | No Comments

Piet Hein

A Maxim for Vikings

Here is a fact
that should help you fight a bit longer:
Things that don’t actually kill you outright
make you stronger.

13 September 2006 | 9:29 | Comments Off on Piet Hein

Kin Hubbard

A bee is never as busy as it seems; it’s just that it can’t buzz any slower.

12 September 2006 | 6:50 | No Comments

Herman Melville

Life is a journey that is homeward bound.

11 September 2006 | 7:21 | No Comments

Kenneth Graham

There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do.

10 September 2006 | 12:50 | No Comments

Ted Hughes

Crow’s Account of a Battle

There was this terrific battle.
The noise was as much
As the limits of possible noise could take.
There were screams higher groans deeper
Than any ear could hold.
Many eardrums burst and some walls
Collapsed to escape the noise.
Everything struggled on its way
Through this tearing deafness
As through a torrent in a dark cave.

The cartridges were banging off, as planned,
The fingers were keeping things going
According to excitement and orders.
The unhurt eyes were full of deadliness.
The bullets pursued their courses
Through clods of stone, earth, and skin,
Through intestines pocket-books, brains, hair, teeth
According to Universal laws
And mouths cried “Mamma”
From sudden traps of calculus,
Theorems wrenched men in two,
Shock-severed eyes watched blood
Squandering as from a drain-pipe
Into the blanks between the stars.
Faces slammed down into clay
As for the making of a life-mask
Knew that even on the sun’s surface
They could not be learning more or more to the point
Reality was giving it’s lesson,
Its mishmash of scripture and physics,
With here, brains in hands, for example,
And there, legs in a treetop.
There was no escape except into death.
And still it went on–it outlasted
Many prayers, many a proved watch
Many bodies in excellent trim,
Till the explosives ran out
And sheer weariness supervened
And what was left looked round at what was left.

Then everybody wept,
Or sat, too exhausted to weep,
Or lay, too hurt to weep.
And when the smoke cleared it became clear
This has happened too often before
And was going to happen too often in the future
And happened too easily
Bones were too like lath and twigs
Blood was too like water
Cries were too like silence
The most terrible grimaces too like footprints in mud
And shooting somebody through the midriff
Was too like striking a match
Too like potting a snooker ball
Too like tearing up a bill
Blasting the whole world to bits
Was too like slamming a door,
Too like dropping in a chair
Exhausted with rage
Too like being blown up yourself
Which happened too easily
With too like no consequences.

So the survivors stayed.
And the earth and the sky stayed.
Everything took the blame.

Not a leaf flinched, nobody smiled.

9 September 2006 | 20:47 | No Comments

William Faulkner

Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.

8 September 2006 | 7:45 | Comments Off on William Faulkner

Piet Hein

Living is
a thing you do
now or never –
which do you?

7 September 2006 | 7:56 | No Comments


Finally I’m becoming stupider no more.

his suggestion for his own epitaph

6 September 2006 | 8:03 | No Comments

Joseph Conrad

from Heart of Darkness

We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness. It was very quiet there. At night sometimes the roll of the drums behind the curtain of trees would run up the river and remain sustained faintly, as if hovering in the air high over our heads, till the first break of day … The dawn were heralded by a chill stillness; the wood-cutters slept, their fires burned low; the snapping of a twig would make you start. We were wanderers on a prehistoric planet … But suddenly, as we struggled round a bend, there would be a glimpse of rush walls, of peaked grass-roof, a burst of yells, a whirl of black limbs, a mass of hands clapping, of feet stamping, of bodies swaying, of eyes rolling, under the droops of heavy and motionless foliage.

5 September 2006 | 5:45 | 1 Comment

Richard Feynman

What did you ask at school today?

4 September 2006 | 7:06 | No Comments

Benjamin Stolberg

An expert is a person who avoids small error as he sweeps on to the grand fallacy.

3 September 2006 | 10:43 | No Comments

James Leigh Hunt

A Night-Rain in Summer

Open the window, and let the air
Freshly blow upon face and hair,
And fill the room, as it fills the night,
With the breath of the rain’s sweet might.
Hark! the burthen, swift and prone!
And how the odorous limes are blown!
Stormy Love’s abroad, and keeps
Hopeful coil for gentle sleeps.

Not a blink shall burn to-night
In my chamber, of sordid light;
Nought will I have, not a window-pane,
‘Twixt me and the air and the great good rain,
Which ever shall sing me sharp lullabies;
And God’s own darkness shall close mine eyes;
And I will sleep, with all things blest,
In the pure earth-shadow of natural rest.

2 September 2006 | 10:00 | No Comments

Alexander Pope

Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.

1 September 2006 | 7:51 | No Comments

Karl Popper

We are social creatures to the inmost centre of our being. The notion that one can begin anything at all from scratch, free from the past, or unindebted to others, could not conceivably be more wrong.

31 August 2006 | 7:02 | Comments Off on Karl Popper

Abbie Hoffman

You measure a democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists.

30 August 2006 | 20:58 | No Comments


Although to penetrate into the intimate mysteries of nature and thence to learn the true causes of phenomena is not allowed to us, nevertheless it can happen that a certain fictive hypothesis may suffice for explaining many phenomena.

29 August 2006 | 12:41 | No Comments

Siegbert Tarrasch

It is not enough to be a good player, you must also play well.

28 August 2006 | 10:28 | No Comments

Margaret Mitchell

Until you’ve lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was.

27 August 2006 | 8:29 | No Comments

Emily Dickinson

“Heaven” – is what I cannot reach!

“Heaven” – is what I cannot reach!
The Apple on the Tree –
Provided it do hopeless – hang –
That – “Heaven” is – to Me!

The Color, on the Cruising Cloud –
The interdicted Land –
Behind the Hill – the House behind –
There – Paradise – is found!

Her teasing Purples – Afternoons –
The credulous – decoy –
Enamored – of the Conjuror –
That spurned us – Yesterday!

26 August 2006 | 8:50 | No Comments

David Hume

Methinks I am like a man, who having struck on many shoals, and having narrowly escap’d shipwreck in passing a small frith, has yet the temerity to put out to sea in the same leaky weather-beaten vessel, and even carries his ambition so far as to think of compassing the globe under these disadvantageous circumstances.

25 August 2006 | 11:37 | No Comments

Jerome K Jerome

Let your boat of life be light, packed with only what you need – a homely home and simple pleasures, one or two friends, worth the name, someone to love and someone to love you, a cat, a dog, and a pipe or two, enough to eat and enough to wear, and a little more than enough to drink; for thirst is a dangerous thing.

24 August 2006 | 8:27 | No Comments

Edmund Clerihew Bentley

The People of Spain Think Cervantes

The people of Spain think Cervantes
Equal to half-a-dozen Dantes;
An opinion resented most bitterly
By the people of Italy.

23 August 2006 | 8:25 | No Comments

Bishop Richard Cumberland

It is better to wear out than to rust out.

22 August 2006 | 21:57 | No Comments

Michel de Montaigne

I want death to find me planting my cabbages.

21 August 2006 | 7:44 | No Comments

Jorge Luis Borges

If the pages of this book contain some successful verse, the reader must excuse me the discourtesy of having usurped it first. Our nothingness differs little; it is a trivial and chance circumstance that you should be the reader of these exercises and I their author.

20 August 2006 | 8:26 | No Comments

Ian Duhig

From the Irish

According to Dineen, a Gael unsurpassed
in lexicographical enterprise, the Irish
for moon means ‘the white circle in a slice
of half-boiled potato or turnip’. A star
is the mark on the forehead of a beast
and the sun is the bottom of a lake, or well.

Well, if I say to you your face
is like a slice of half-boiled turnip,
your hair is the colour of a lake’s bottom
and at the centre of each of your eyes
is the mark of the beast, it is because
I want to love you properly, according to Dineen.

19 August 2006 | 8:17 | No Comments

William Morris

If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

18 August 2006 | 11:00 | No Comments

Erica Jong

Take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.

17 August 2006 | 6:59 | No Comments

Howard Nemerov

Because You Asked About the Line
Between Prose and Poetry

Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle That while you watched turned into pieces of snow Riding a gradient invisible From silver aslant to random, white, and slow.

There came a moment that you couldn’t tell.
And then they clearly flew instead of fell.

16 August 2006 | 7:32 | No Comments

William Somerset Maugham

Anyone can tell the truth, but only very few of us can make epigrams.

15 August 2006 | 8:36 | No Comments

Richard Feynman

From a long view of the history of mankind – seen from, say, ten thousand years from now, there can be little doubt that the most significant event of the 19th century will be judged as Maxwell’s discovery of the laws of electrodynamics. The American Civil War will pale into provincial insignificance in comparison with this important scientific event of the same decade.

14 August 2006 | 8:33 | Comments Off on Richard Feynman

G H Hardy

There is no scorn more profound, or on the whole more justifiable, than that of the men who make for the men who explain. Exposition, criticism, appreciation, is work for second-rate minds.

13 August 2006 | 19:28 | No Comments

Howard Aiken

Don’t worry about people stealing an idea. If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats.

10 August 2006 | 6:49 | No Comments

Peter Goldsworthy


Carving this same face
out of soap, each morning
slightly less perfectly

9 August 2006 | 7:21 | No Comments

Emily Dickinson

If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.

8 August 2006 | 8:07 | No Comments

Marva Collins

Trust yourself. Think for yourself. Act for yourself. Speak for yourself. Be yourself. Imitation is suicide.

7 August 2006 | 7:41 | No Comments

C S Lewis

You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.

6 August 2006 | 8:28 | No Comments

Andrew Motion

To whom it may concern

This poem about ice cream
has nothing to do with government
with riot, with any political scheme

It is a poem about ice cream. You see ?
About how you might stroll into a shop
and ask; One Strawberry Split. One Mivvi.

What did I tell you ? No one will die.
No licking tongues will melt like candle wax.
This is a poem about ice cream. Do not cry.

5 August 2006 | 7:58 | No Comments

Dr E E Peacock

One day when I was a junior medical student, a very important Boston surgeon visited the school and delivered a great treatise on a large number of patients who had undergone successful operations for vascular reconstruction. At the end of the lecture, a young student at the back of the room timidly asked, “Do you have any controls?” Well, the great surgeon drew himself up to his full height, hit the desk, and said, “Do you mean did I not operate on half of the patients” The hall grew very quiet then. The voice at the back of the room very hesitantly replied, “Yes, that’s what I had in mind.” Then the visitor’s fist really came down as he thundered, “Of course not. That would have doomed half of them to their death.” God, it was quiet then, and one could scarcely hear the small voice ask, “Which half?”

4 August 2006 | 8:40 | No Comments

Robert Browning

Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!’

3 August 2006 | 5:31 | No Comments

Piet Hein

Problems worthy
of attack
prove their worth
by hitting back.

2 August 2006 | 6:19 | No Comments

Bob Woodward

All good work is done in defiance of management.

1 August 2006 | 6:34 | No Comments

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

There are two things children should get from their parents: roots and wings.

31 July 2006 | 7:00 | No Comments

Karl Popper

Good tests kill flawed theories; we remain alive to guess again.

30 July 2006 | 8:45 | Comments Off on Karl Popper

Charles Causley

I Am the Song

I am the song that sings the bird.
I am the leaf that grows the land.
I am the tide that moves the moon.
I am the stream that halts the sand.
I am the cloud that drives the storm.
I am the earth that lights the sun.
I am the fire that strikes the stone.
I am the clay that shapes the hand.
I am the word that speaks the man.

29 July 2006 | 8:19 | 6 Comments

A A Milne

I am a bear of very little brain, and long words bother me.

28 July 2006 | 9:54 | No Comments

Mark Twain

Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted;
persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished;
persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.

warning at the front of “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”

27 July 2006 | 11:15 | 1 Comment

John Von Neumann

There’s no sense in being precise when you don’t even know what you’re talking about.

26 July 2006 | 16:00 | No Comments

Alfred, Lord Tennyson


somebody being a nobody
thinking to look like somebody
says that he thought me nobody
good little somebody nobody
had you not known me somebody
would you have called me nobody

25 July 2006 | 7:40 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

Shall I tell you the secret of the whole world? It is that we have only known the back of the world. We see everything from behind, and it looks brutal. That is not a tree, but the back of a tree. That is not a cloud, but the back of a cloud. Cannot you see that everything is stooping and hiding a face? If we could only get round in front.

24 July 2006 | 6:08 | No Comments

Bruce Cockburn


You can’t tell me there is no mystery
You can’t tell me there is no mystery
It’s everywhere I turn

Moon over junk yard where the snow lies bright
Snow lies bright
Snow lies bright
Moon over junk yard where the snow lies bright
Can set my heart to burn

Stood before the shaman, I saw star-strewn space
Star-strewn space
Star-strewn space
Stood before the shaman, I saw star strewn space
Behind the eye holes in his face

Infinity always gives me vertigo
Infinity always gives me vertigo
And fills me up with grace

I was built on a Friday and you can’t fix me
You can’t fix me
You can’t fix me
I was built on a Friday and you can’t fix me
Even so I’ve done okay

So grab that last bottle full of gasoline
Grab that last bottle full of gasoline
Light a toast to yesterday

And don’t tell me there is no mystery
And don’t tell me there is no mystery
It overflows my cup

This feast of beauty can intoxicate
This feast of beauty can intoxicate
Just like the finest wine

So all you stumblers who believe love rules
Believe love rules
Believe love rules
Come all you stumblers who believe love rules
Stand up and let it shine
Stand up and let it shine

22 July 2006 | 8:19 | No Comments

James Thurber

There is no safety in numbers, or in anything else.

21 July 2006 | 6:11 | No Comments

Kin Hubbard

A good listener is usually thinking about something else.

20 July 2006 | 6:55 | No Comments

Nursery Rhyme for a Scientist

Twinkle twinkle little star,
I don’t wonder what you are.
For by spectographic ken,
I know you are hydrogen.

19 July 2006 | 6:59 | No Comments

Malcolm Muggeridge

I wonder whether, in the history of all the civilisations that have ever been, a more insanely optimistic notion has ever been entertained than that you and I, mortal, puny creatures, may yet aspire, with God’s grace and Christ’s help, to be reborn into what St Paul calls the glorious liberty of the children of God. Or if there was ever a more abysmally pessimistic one than that we, who reach out with our minds and our aspirations to the stars and beyond, should be able so to arrange our lives, so to eat and drink and fornicate and learn and frolic, that our brief span in this world fulfils all our hopes and desires.

18 July 2006 | 6:18 | No Comments

William Safire

Never assume the obvious is true.

17 July 2006 | 6:50 | No Comments

J M Barrie

Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.

16 July 2006 | 17:32 | No Comments

John Masefield


I have seen dawn and sunset on moors and windy hills
Coming in solemn beauty like slow old tunes of Spain:
I have seen the lady April bringing the daffodils,
Bringing the springing grass and the soft warm April rain.

I have heard the song of the blossoms and the old chant of the sea,
And seen strange lands from under the arched white sails of ships;
But the loveliest thing of beauty God ever has shown to me,
Are her voice, and her hair, and eyes, and the dear red curve of her lips.

15 July 2006 | 6:35 | No Comments

Benjamin Franklin

The absent are never without fault. Nor the present without excuse.

14 July 2006 | 6:57 | No Comments

William D Tammeus

You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around – and why his parents will always wave back.

13 July 2006 | 8:17 | No Comments

Raymond Carver

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

12 July 2006 | 6:26 | No Comments

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.

11 July 2006 | 7:21 | No Comments

George Orwell

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.

10 July 2006 | 8:34 | No Comments

Sir John Lubbock

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.

9 July 2006 | 8:12 | 1 Comment

Bruce Cockburn

Joy Will Find A Way (A Song About Dying)

Make me a bed of fond memories
Make me to lie down with a smile
Everything that rises afterward falls
But all that dies has first to live.

As longing becomes love
As night turns to day
Everything changes
Joy will find a way

8 July 2006 | 10:09 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

I believe in getting into hot water; it keeps you clean.

7 July 2006 | 6:39 | No Comments

Frank Lloyd Wright

An expert is a man who has stopped thinking – he knows!

6 July 2006 | 6:47 | No Comments

Su Shi

To what can our life on earth be likened?
To a flock of geese,
alighting on the snow.
Sometimes leaving a trace of their passage.

5 July 2006 | 7:42 | No Comments

Blaise Pascal

The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room.

4 July 2006 | 7:17 | No Comments

Andre Gide

Complete possession is proved only by giving. All you are unable to give possesses you.

3 July 2006 | 4:21 | No Comments

Gilda Radner

I base most of my fashion taste on what doesn’t itch

2 July 2006 | 10:06 | No Comments

W B Yeats

A Drinking Song

Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

1 July 2006 | 10:27 | No Comments


Cease to ask what the morrow will bring forth and set down as gain each day that fortune grants.

30 June 2006 | 7:18 | No Comments


No man can be brave who thinks pain the greatest evil; nor temperate, who considers pleasure the highest good.

29 June 2006 | 17:49 | No Comments

Piet Hein

What Love is Like

Love is like
a pineapple,
sweet and

28 June 2006 | 7:32 | No Comments

Paul Bowles

Security is a false god; begin making sacrifices to it and you are lost.

27 June 2006 | 8:58 | No Comments

Arthur Schopenhauer

Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world.

26 June 2006 | 7:58 | No Comments

H.G. Wells

When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair or the future of the human race.

Found here

My new bicycle here

25 June 2006 | 10:13 | No Comments

Walt Whitman

A Clear Midnight

This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou
lovest best.
Night, sleep, and the stars.

24 June 2006 | 23:42 | No Comments

Anna Quindlen

I would be the most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.

23 June 2006 | 10:37 | No Comments


There are seven sins in the world: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice and politics without principle.

22 June 2006 | 6:20 | 1 Comment

Wendy Cope


When they ask me, “Who’s your favourite poet?”
I’d better not mention you,
Though you certainly are my favourite poet
And I like your poems too.

21 June 2006 | 1:00 | 1 Comment

Leanne Womack

When you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.

20 June 2006 | 5:47 | 1 Comment

Elwyn Brooks White

I wake up every morning determined both to change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning the day a little difficult.

19 June 2006 | 8:20 | No Comments

Matt Cartmill

As an adolescent I aspired to lasting fame, I craved factual certainty, and I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life – so I became a scientist. This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls.

18 June 2006 | 17:49 | Comments Off on Matt Cartmill

William Shakespeare

Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

17 June 2006 | 8:10 | No Comments

Vincent van Gogh

One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul and yet no one ever come to sit by it. Passersby see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on the way.

16 June 2006 | 7:45 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.

15 June 2006 | 7:09 | No Comments

Alexander Pope

I am his Highness’ dog at Kew;
Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?

Engraved on the collar of a dog he gave to the King.

14 June 2006 | 6:51 | No Comments

Federico Fellini

I claim the right to contradict myself. I don’t want to deprive myself of the right to talk nonsense, and I ask humbly to be allowed to be wrong sometimes.

13 June 2006 | 6:55 | No Comments

Dan Eldon

What is the difference between exploring and being lost?

12 June 2006 | 8:53 | No Comments

Samuel Johnson

Men are generally idle, and ready to satisfy themselves, and intimidate the industry of others, by calling that impossible which is only difficult.

11 June 2006 | 13:26 | No Comments

Alfred Lord Tennyson


Come, my friends,
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

10 June 2006 | 9:36 | No Comments


Tactics is when you keep firing so that the enemy won’t realise you ran out of ammo half an hour ago.

9 June 2006 | 12:29 | No Comments

Swedish Proverb

Love me when I least deserve it, because that is when I really need it.

8 June 2006 | 20:18 | 1 Comment

Ruby Ingraham

Someone must play the minor parts,
Someone must hold the spear,
And someone, when the music starts,
Must follow in the rear.
Not everyone can be the star,
That shines with great white light,
But some must twinkle from afar
To harmonize the night.

7 June 2006 | 23:57 | No Comments

Chinese Proverb

Luck never gives: it only lends.

6 June 2006 | 7:34 | 1 Comment

Chambers English Dictionary

eclair: a cake, long in shape but short in duration.

5 June 2006 | 7:35 | No Comments

Sir Isaac Newton

No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess.

4 June 2006 | 8:34 | No Comments

Tu Fu

Written On The Wall At Chang’s Hermitage

It is spring in the Mountains.
I come along seeking you.
The sound of chopping wood echoes
Between the silent peaks.
The streams are still icy.
There is snow on the trail.
At sunset I reach your grove
In the stony mountain pass.
You want nothing, although at night
You can see the aura of gold
And silver ore all around you.
You have learned to be gentle
As the mountain deer you have tamed.
The way back forgotten, hidden
Away, I become like you
An empty boat, floating, adrift.

3 June 2006 | 9:58 | No Comments

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

You cannot slander human nature; it is worse than words can paint it.

2 June 2006 | 0:14 | No Comments

Harry Graham


Auntie did you feel no pain
Falling from that willow tree?
Could you do it, please again
‘Cos my friend here didn’t see.

31 May 2006 | 7:00 | No Comments

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

30 May 2006 | 7:27 | No Comments

George Jackson

Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it’s cowardice.

29 May 2006 | 11:57 | No Comments



I control the thunder ruining Days.
Hiring A
Big Marching Band to
Create my Praise.
But today I
am weary And
so i’ll just let you play

(age 9) posted with permission

28 May 2006 | 5:41 | No Comments

C S Lewis

Joys That Sting

To take the old walks alone, or not at all,
To order one pint where I ordered two,
To think of, and then not to make, the small
Time-honoured joke (senseless to all but you);

To laugh (oh, one’ll laugh), to talk upon
Themes that we talked upon when you were there,
To make some poor presence of going on,
Be kind to one’s old friends, and seem to care,

While no one (O God) through the years will say
The simplest, common word in just your way.

27 May 2006 | 8:47 | No Comments

Barbara Cook

If you’re able to be yourself, then you have no competition. All you have to do is get closer and closer to that essence.

26 May 2006 | 6:12 | No Comments

Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all.

25 May 2006 | 8:33 | No Comments

G K Chesterton

If one looks at something nine hundred and ninety nine times one is perfectly safe, if however one looks for the thousandth time one is in frightful danger of seeing things for the first time!

23 May 2006 | 5:42 | No Comments

Natalie Clifford Barney

Why grab possessions like thieves, or divide them like socialists, when you can ignore them like wise men?

22 May 2006 | 6:21 | No Comments

Galileo Galilei

I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him.

21 May 2006 | 11:29 | No Comments

John Donne

Holy Sonnets – V

I am a little world made cunningly
Of elements, and an angelic sprite;
But black sin hath betrayed to endless night
My worlds both parts, and (oh!) both parts must die.
You which beyond that heaven which was most high
Have found new spheres, and of new lands can write,
Pour new seas in mine eyes, that so I might
Drown my world with my weeping earnestly,
Or wash it if it must be drowned no more:
But oh it must be burnt! alas the fire
Of lust and envy have burnt it heretofore,
And made it fouler: Let their flames retire,
And burn me, O Lord, with a fiery zeal
Of Thee and Thy house, which doth in eating heal

20 May 2006 | 8:50 | No Comments

Van Morrison

Rave on John Donne, rave on thy Holy fool
Down through the weeks of ages
In the moss borne dark dank pools
Rave on, down through the industrial revolution
Empiricism, atomic and nuclear age
Rave on down through time and space down through the corridors
Rave on words on printed page
Rave on, you left us infinity
And well pressed pages torn to fade.

20 May 2006 | 8:49 | No Comments

Linus Pauling

How do you have a good idea? Have a lot of ideas and keep the good ones.

19 May 2006 | 7:22 | No Comments

Vincent van Gogh

The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storms terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.

18 May 2006 | 8:00 | No Comments


Spring is sprung
The grass is rizz
I wonder where the birdies is
The birdies is upon the wing
No, that’s absurd
The wing should be upon the bird.

17 May 2006 | 7:28 | No Comments

Hans Christian Andersen

Just living is not enough… One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.

16 May 2006 | 7:35 | No Comments

Blaise Pascal

When we try to anchor ourselves to any point, it wavers and leaves us; and if we pursue it, it eludes our grasp and vanishes forever. Nothing stands still for us. This is our natural condition, yet it is completely contrary to our inclination.

15 May 2006 | 6:56 | No Comments

Don Patterson

Some people achieve their humility by prayer and fasting, some by great charitable works. My own method is to behave in public like a complete moron every three months or so.

14 May 2006 | 8:33 | No Comments

Moniza Alvi

Arrival 1946

The boat docked in Liverpool.
From the train Tariq stared
at an unbroken line of washing
from the North West to Euston.

These are strange people, he thought
an Empire, and all this washing,
the underwear, the Englishmen’s garden.
It was Monday, and very sharp.

13 May 2006 | 6:55 | 1 Comment

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Lose this day loitering; t’will be the same old story tomorrow, and the next day more dilatory … Each indecision brings its own delays and days are lost lamenting o’er lost days … What you can do or think you can, begin it–boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

12 May 2006 | 8:55 | 1 Comment

Claude Bernard

It is what we know already that often prevents us from learning.

11 May 2006 | 7:59 | No Comments

John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester

Impromptu on Charles II

God bless our good and gracious King,
Whose promise none relies on.
Who never said a foolish thing,
Nor ever did a wise one

10 May 2006 | 6:41 | No Comments

C S Lewis

Friendship is…the sort of love one can imagine between angels.

9 May 2006 | 8:00 | No Comments

Samuel Johnson

Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble.

8 May 2006 | 7:59 | No Comments


Hippocratic Oath

I swear by Apollo the physician, and Aesculapius, and Health, and All-heal, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this stipulation- to reckon him who taught me this Art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance with him, and relieve his necessities if required; to look upon his offspring in the same footing as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation; and that by precept, lecture, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the Art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath according to the law of medicine, but to none others. I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion. With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art. I will not cut persons laboring under the stone, but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of this work. Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and, further from the seduction of females or males, of freemen and slaves. Whatever, in connection with my professional practice or not, in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret. While I continue to keep this Oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art, respected by all men, in all times! But should I trespass and violate this Oath, may the reverse be my lot!

7 May 2006 | 10:47 | No Comments

John Masefield

A Wanderer’s Song

A wind’s in the heart of me, a fire’s in my heels,
I am tired of brick and stone and rumbling wagon-wheels;
I hunger for the sea’s edge, the limit of the land,
Where the wild old Atlantic is shouting on the sand.

Oh I’ll be going, leaving the noises of the street,
To where a lifting foresail-foot is yanking at the sheet;
To a windy, tossing anchorage where yawls and ketches ride,
Oh I’l be going, going, until I meet the tide.

And first I’ll hear the sea-wind, the mewing of the gulls,
The clucking, sucking of the sea about the rusty hulls,
The songs at the capstan at the hooker warping out,
And then the heart of me’ll know I’m there or thereabout.

Oh I am sick of brick and stone, the heart of me is sick,
For windy green, unquiet sea, the realm of Moby Dick;
And I’ll be going, going, from the roaring of the wheels,
For a wind’s in the heart of me, a fire’s in my heels.

6 May 2006 | 9:41 | No Comments

Robert Benchley

Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing.

5 May 2006 | 8:10 | No Comments

Robert H. Jackson

It is not the function of our Government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the Government from falling into error.

4 May 2006 | 7:21 | No Comments


A rose, by any other name, as sweet would smell;
a rhododendron, by any other name, would be easier to spell.

3 May 2006 | 6:16 | No Comments

Ralph Waldo Emerson

If a man has good corn, or wood, or boards, or pigs to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles, or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad, hard-beaten road to his house, tho it be in the woods.

2 May 2006 | 0:52 | No Comments


11 hads

Peter where John had had “had”, had had “had had”; “had had” had had more marks from the examiner.

21 ands

Wouldn’t the sentence “I want to put a hyphen between the words Fish and And and And and Chips in my Fish-And-Chips sign” have been clearer if quotation marks had been placed before Fish, and between Fish and and, and and and And, and And and and, and and and And, and And and and, and and and Chips, as well as after Chips?

30 April 2006 | 8:37 | No Comments

Philip Larkin

The Trees

The trees are coming into leaf,
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again,
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

29 April 2006 | 9:04 | No Comments

Harry S Truman

There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.

28 April 2006 | 6:43 | No Comments

Mohandas Gandhi

There they go. I must run and catch up with them, beause I am their leader!

27 April 2006 | 8:20 | No Comments

Eugene Fitch Ware

He & She

When I am dead you’ll find it hard,
Said he,
To ever find another man
Like me,

What makes you think, as I suppose
You do,
I’d ever want another man
Like you?

26 April 2006 | 7:20 | No Comments

John Gardner

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.

25 April 2006 | 7:37 | No Comments

Lord Byron

There is pleasure in the pathless woods,
there is rapture in the lonely shore,
there is society where none intrudes,
by the deep sea, and music in its roar;
I love not man the less, but nature more.

24 April 2006 | 8:50 | No Comments

Johannes Kepler

Nature uses as little as possible of anything.

23 April 2006 | 7:48 | No Comments

Tu Fu


A hawk hovers in the air.
Two white gulls float on the stream.
Soaring with the wind, it is easy
To drop and seize
Birds who foolishly drift with the current.
Where the dew sparkles in the grass,
The spider’s web waits for its prey.
The processes of nature resemble the business of men.
I stand alone with ten thousand sorrows.

22 April 2006 | 9:37 | No Comments

William Shakespeare

When we are born we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.

21 April 2006 | 7:21 | No Comments

Anthony Burgess

His dentist had once told him that he was one of the lucky few whose teeth would outlive him; he would have preferred his work to, but you can’t have everything.

20 April 2006 | 7:07 | No Comments

Edna St. Vincent Millay

April comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

19 April 2006 | 12:31 | No Comments

Thomas Ford

There is a Lady Sweet and Kind

There is a lady sweet and kind,
Was never a face so pleased my mind;
I did but see her passing by,
And yet I’ll love her till I die.

Her gesture, motion, and her smiles,
Her wit, her voice my heart beguiles,
Beguiles my heart, I know not why,
And yet I’ll love her till I die.

Cupid is winged and he doth range,
Her country, so, my love doth change:
But change she earth, or change she sky,
Yet, I will love her till I die.

18 April 2006 | 8:38 | No Comments

Arabic Proverb

A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.

17 April 2006 | 15:42 | No Comments

A. E. Housman

Loveliest of Trees

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

16 April 2006 | 10:58 | 1 Comment

Anna Lappe

Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.

15 April 2006 | 16:12 | No Comments