Lucretius, not Locutus

Excerpt from On The Nature of Things by Lucretius, translated by Charles E. Bennett ©1946:

Not wholly, then, doth perish what may seem
To die, since from one thing doth nature build
Another, nor will suffer aught to come
To birth without the death of something else.

A lot of things that were codified into scientific laws were sort of intuitive all along.  A generation before Christ’s birth, Lucretius put the Law of Conservation of Energy into poetic form.

Of course, a thing is true whether or not you write it down.

At least one English translation of On The Nature of Things is in the public domain, and may be downloaded freely from Project Gutenberg, HERE.

Beastie

To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest With the Plough, November, 1785
by Robert Burns

 

Side by side comparison (via Wikipedia)
The original wording The poem in modern English

Wee, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion,
Has broken nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An’ fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
‘S a sma’ request;
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss’t!

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell-
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.

Thy wee bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld!

But, Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

Little, artful, cowering, timid beast,
Oh, what a panic is in your heart!
You need not start away so hasty
With bickering prattle!
I would be loath to run and chase you,
With murdering scraper

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
And justifies that ill opinion
Which makes you startle
At me, your poor, earth born companion
And fellow mortal!

I doubt not, sometimes, that you may steal;
What then? Poor beast, you must live!
An odd ear in twenty-four sheaves
Is a small request;
I will get a blessing with what is left,
And never miss it.

Your small house, too, in ruin!
Its feeble walls the winds are scattering!
And nothing now, to build a new one,
Of coarse green foliage!
And bleak December’s winds coming,
Both bitter and piercing!

You saw the fields laid bare and empty,
And weary winter coming fast,
And cozy here, beneath the blast,
You thought to dwell,
Till crash! The cruel plough passed
Out through your cell.

That small heap of leaves and stubble,
Has cost you many a weary nibble!
Now you are turned out, for all your trouble,
Without house or holding,
To endure the winter’s sleety dribble,
And hoar-frost cold.

But Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!

Still you are blessed, compared with me!
The present only touches you:
But oh! I backward cast my eye,
On prospects dreary!
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear!

For A Few Days

Excerpt from The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, ©2013:

“Wow, Mr. Neat. How come there are no pictures on the walls?”

“Because after a while I would stop noticing them. The human brain is wired to focus on differences in its environment– so it can rapidly discern a predator. If I installed pictures or other decorative objects, I would notice them for a few days and then my brain would ignore them. If I want to see art, I go to the gallery. The paintings there are of higher quality, and the total expenditure over time is less than the purchase price of cheap posters.”

True to a point, but I still like my art, posters, and decorative objects.

I could have told you, Vincent

Three things I learned about Vincent Van Gogh from reading Van Gogh by Pierre Cabanne, © 1961:

  1. When Van Gogh took up painting, late in life, he began by taking lessons, visiting museums to study the works of the masters, and inviting established artists to critique his work.  In the popular imagination he simply sat down at his canvas and let the genius flow forth– and there was an element of that– but he had carefully laid the foundation.
  2. He didn’t cut off his whole ear, just the tip of his earlobe.  That’s still disturbing and indicative of a troubled mind, but far less ghastly than if he had lopped off the whole thing.
  3. While it is true he sold only a single painting while alive, his career had a major breakthrough shortly before his suicide.  A respected art critic had published a glowing review of his work, and he was being contacted by other successful painters who were intrigued by his work and wanted to meet him and exchange paintings.  He had several public exhibitions which were widely attended and brought positive attention.  He had every objective reason to be optimistic.

A Lamp

In this excerpt from Rob Lowe’s autobiography, Stories I Only Tell My Friends ©2011, a teenage Rob Lowe finds himself alone with Francis Ford Coppola and brings up the obvious:

“Francis, I’m sure you hear this a lot, but Godfather was on in the hotel and we all watched it for the hundredth time. What an unbelievable movie.”

“You know, Rob, to me The Godfather is like that lamp,” he says, pointing. “It exists. It’s right there. People have opinions about it,” he continues mildly. “The real Godfather, for me, is the experience I had making it.”

It would be many years and many projects before I fully understood what he meant. If you are fortunate enough to be part of a hit, particularly a transcendent one, all emotional ownership is transferred to the audience. They judge it and embrace it; project their own hopes, dreams, and fears onto it; take their personal meaning from its themes, and with those investments it becomes theirs. The significance of your participation pales in comparison to the significance the project has on their imaginations. And so, you are left outside the phenomenon. Just as Paul McCartney can never experience the Beatles, Francis Ford Coppola can never experience The Godfather. It becomes a lamp.

I like this book a lot more than I expected to.  I’m not a huge Rob Lowe fan, although I did enjoy him in Parks and Recreation, but it turns out you don’t have to be to enjoy his anecdotes and stories.