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IF YOU CAN'T GO OVER OR UNDER, GO ROUND
Often the straight road to the thing we desire is blocked. We should not then weakly give over our purpose, but should set about attaining it by some indirect method. A politician knows that one way of getting a man's vote is to please the man's wife, and that one way of pleasing the wife is to kiss her baby.
BABY mole got to feeling big,
And wanted to show how he could dig;
He sat on his haunches, began to pout;
A traveler came to a stream one day,
If you come to a place that you can't get through,
Is to find a way round the impassable wall,
Not say you'll go YOUR way or not at all.
If the mountains are high, go round the valley;
THICK IS THE DARKNESS
How many of us forget when the sun goes down that it will
THE BELLY AND THE MEMBERS
(ADAPTED FROM "CORIOLANUS")
No doubt the world is cursed with grafters and parasites-men who live off the body economic and give nothing substantial in return. But an appearance of uselessness is not always proof of such. We should not condemn men in ignorance. As old as Esop is the fable of the rebellion of the other members of the body against the idle unproductiveness of the belly. In this passage the fable is used as an answer to the plebeians of Rome who have complained that the patricians are merely an encumbrance.
HERE was a time when all the body's members
That only like a gulf it did remain
I' the midst o' the body, idle and unactive,
Like labor with the rest, where the other instruments
Not rash like his accusers, and thus answered:
Even to the court, the heart, to the seat o' the brain;
Whereby they live. Though all at once cannot
Yet I can make my audit up, that all
From me do back receive the
flour of all,
What say you to 't?
THE CELESTIAL SURGEON
We may acquire the resolution to be happy by resting on a bed of roses. If that fails us, we should try a bed of nettles.
F I have faltered more or less
In my great task of happiness;
Robert Louis Stevenson.
MAN, BIRD, AND GOD
Robert Bruce, despairing of his country's cause, was aroused to new hope and purpose by the sight of a spider casting its lines until at last it had one that held. In the following passage the poet, uncertain as to his own future, yet trusts the providence which guides the birds in their long and uncharted migrations.
GO to prove my soul!
I see my way as birds their trackless way.
The thought of this poem is that a man's best helper may be that which gives him no direct aid at all—a sense of humor.
E fought for his soul, and the stubborn fighting
"One needs seven souls for this long requiting,"
"Six times have I come where my first hope jeered me And laughed me to scorn;
But now I fear as I never feared me
To fall forsworn.
"God! when they fight upright and at me I give them back
Even such blows as theirs that combat me;
"They fight with the wiles of fiends escaping
Six times, O God, and my wounds are gaping!
"Six battles' span! By this gasping breath No pantomime.
'Tis all that I can. I am sick unto death. And a seventh time?
"This is beyond all battles' soreness!"
Then his wonder cried;
For Laughter, with shield and steely harness,
From "Merchants from Cathay,"
Yale University Press.
William Rose Benét.