C   (Poems/Prose  @ www.HappyOtter.Com)


CENSORSHIP

Don't join the book burner. Don't think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don't be afraid to go to the library and read every book, so long as that document doesn't offend our own ideas of decency; that should be the only censorship.

--Dwight D. Eisenhower (At Dartmouth College, June 14, 1953)


THE CHARACTER OF A HAPPY LIFE

How happy is he born or taught
That serveth not another's will;
Whose armor is his honest thought
And simple truth his utmost skill!

Whose passions not his masters are,
Whose soul is still prepared for death,
Untied unto the world by care
Of public fame or private breath;

Who envies none that chance doth raise
Nor vice; hath ever understood
How deepest wounds are given by praise;
Nor rules of state, but rules of good:

Who hath his life from rumors freed,
Whose conscience is his strong retreat;
Whose state can neither flatterers feed,
Nor ruin make oppressors great;

Who God doth late and early pray
More of His grace than gifts to lend;
And entertains the harmless day
With a religious book or friend;

-This man is freed from servile bonds
Of hope to rise, or fear to fall;
Lord of himself, though not of lands;
And having nothing, yet hath all.

--Sir Henry Wotton


MY CHOICE

I would rather go to the forest, far away, and build me a little cabin -- build it myself -- and daub it with clay, and live there with my wife and children; and have a winding path leading down to the spring where the water bubbles out, day and night, whispering a poem to the white pebbles, from the heart of the earth; a little hut with some hollyhocks at the corner, with their bannered bosoms open to the sun, and a thrush in the air like a winged joy -- I would rather live there and have some lattice work across the window so that the sun-light would fall checkered on the babe in the cradle -- I would rather live there, with my soul erect and free, than in a palace of gold, and wear a crown of imperial power, and feel that I was superstition's cringing slave, and dare not speak my honest thought.

--Robert G. Ingersoll


COMPENSATION

Who never wept knows laughter but a jest;
Who never failed, no victory has sought;
Who never suffered, never lived his best;
Who never doubted, never really thought;
Who never feared, real courage has not shown;
Who never faltered, lacks a real intent;
Whose soul was never troubled has not known
The sweetness and the peace of real content.

--E. M. Brainard


ON CONSISTENCY

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Out upon your guarded lips! Sew them up with pack thread, do. Else, if you would be a man, speak what you think today in words as hard as cannon balls, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today.... Fear never but what you shall be consistent in whatever variety of actions, so they be each honest and natural in their hour. For of one will, the actions will be harmonious, however unlike they seem. These varieties are lost sight of when seen at a little distance, at a little height of thought. One tendency unites then all. The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks. This is only a microscopic criticism. See the line from a sufficient distance, and it straightens itself to the average tendency, your genuine action will explain itself and will explain your other genuine actions.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson ("Self-Reliance")


COUNT THAT DAY LOST

If you sit down at set of sun
And count the acts that you have done,
And, counting, find
One self-denying deed, one word
That eased the heart of him who heard,
One glance most kind
That fell like sunshine where it went --
Then you may count that day well spent.

But if, through all the livelong day,
You've cheered no heart, by yea or nay --
If, through it all
You've nothing done that you can trace
That brought the sunshine to one face --
No act most small
That helped some soul and nothing cost --
Then count that day as worse than lost.

--George Eliot


COURAGE

Courage isn't a brilliant dash,
A daring deed in a moment's flash;
It isn't an instantaneous thing
Born of despair with a sudden spring
It isn't a creature of flickered hope
Or the final tug at a slipping rope;
But it's something deep in the soul of man
That is working always to serve some plan.

Courage isn't the last resort
In the work of life of the game of sport;
It isn't a thing that a man can call
At some future time when he's apt to fall;
If he hasn't it now, he will have it not
When the strain is great and the pace is hot.
For who would strive for a distant goal
Must always have courage within his soul.

Courage isn't a dazzling light
That flashes and passes away from sight;
It's a slow, unwavering, ingrained trait
With the patience to work and the strength to wait.
It's part of a man when his skies are blue,
It's part of him when he has work to do.
The brave man never is freed of it.
He has it when there is no need of it.

Courage was never designed for show;
It isn't a thing that can come and go;
It's written in victory and defeat
And every trial a man may meet.
It's part of his hours, his days and his years,
Back of his smiles and behind his tears.
Courage is more than a daring deed:
It's the breath of life and a strong man's creed.

--E. Guest


A CREED

There is a destiny that makes us brothers;
None goes his way alone:
All that we send into the lives of others
Comes back into our own.

I care not what his temples or his creeds,
One thing holds firm and fast --
That into his fateful heap of days and deeds
The soul of man is cast.

--Edwin Markham