Mark Twain

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."

- Mark Twain

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


I saw a peanut stand, heard a rubber band,
And seen a needle wink its eye
But I be done seen about everything
When I see an elephant fly



In my youth the growls.
In mine age the owls.
After death the ghouls.
--Alfred, Lord Tennyson


Some can gaze and not be sick,
But I could never learn the trick.
There's this to say for blood and breath,
They give a man a taste for death.
--A.E. Housman

We said goodbye, you're gone for good,
      And, sadly, we're forsaken;
We buried you 'cause you looked dead . . .
      We hope we weren't mistaken.
--Cap'n Bean (aka, David J. Cyr), East Hartford, CT

Within this grave do lie,
Back to back, my wife and I;
When the last trumpet the air shall fill,
If she gets up, I'll just lie still.
A muvver was barfin' 'er biby one night,
The youngest of ten and a tiny young mite,
The muvver was poor and the biby was thin,
Only a skelington covered in skin;
The muvver turned rahnd for the soap off the rack,
She was but a moment, but when she turned back,
The baby was gorn; and in anguish she cried,
"Oh, where is my bibe?"-The angels replied:
"You biby 'as fell dahn the plug-'ole,
Your biby 'as gorn dahn the plug;
The poor little thing was so skinny and thin
'E oughter been barfed in a jug;
Your biby is perfeckly 'appy,
'E won't need a barf any more,
Your biby 'as fell dahn the plug'ole,
Not lorst, but gorn before."

Thomas Hardy
"Ah, are you digging on my grave
      My beloved one?--planting rue?"
--"No: yesterday he went to wed
One of the brightest wealth has bred,
'It cannot hurt her now,' he said,
      'That I should not be true.'"
"Then who is digging on my grave?
      My nearest, dearest kin?"
--"Ah, no: they sit and think, 'What use!
What good will planting flowers produce?
No tendance of her mound can loose
      Her spirit from Death's gin.'"
"But someone digs upon my grave?
      My enemy?--prodding sly?"
--"Nay: when she heard you had passed the Gate
That shuts on all flesh soon or late
She thought you no more worth her hate,
      And cares not where you lie."
"Then, who is digging on my grave?
      Say-since I have not guessed!"
--"O it is I, my mistress dear,
Your little dog, who still lives near,
And much I hope my movements here
      Have not disturbed your rest?"
"Ah, yes!You dig upon my grave....
      Why flashed it not on me
That one true heart was left behind!
What feeling do we ever find
To equal among human kind
      A dog's fidelity!"
"Mistress, I dug upon your grave
      To bury a bone, in case
I should be hungry near this spot
When passing on my daily trot.
I am sorry, but I quite forgot
      It was your resting-place."

G. K. Chesterton
The gallows in my garden, people say,
Is new and neat and adequately tall.
I tie the noose on in a knowing way
As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
But just as all the neighbours -- on the wall --
Are drawing a long breath to shout 'Hurray!'
The strangest whim has seized me . . . After all
I think I will not hang myself today.
Tomorrow is the time I get my pay --
My uncle's sword is hanging in the hall --
I see a little cloud all pink and grey --
Perhaps the Rector's mother will not call --
I fancy that I heard from Mr Gall
That mushrooms could be cooked another way --
I never read the works of Juvenal --
I think I will not hang myself today.
The world will have another washing day;
The decadents decay; the pedants pall;
And H.G. Wells has found that children play,
And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall;
Rationalists are growing rational --
And through thick woods one finds a stream astray,
So secret that the very sky seems small --
I think I will not hang myself today.
Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal,
The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way;
Even today your royal head may fall --
I think I will not hang myself today.

Marcus Valerius Martialis (born A.D. 40 in Spain)
translated by Samuel Johnson

You told me, Maro, whilst you live
You'd not a single penny give,
But that, whene'er you chanced to die,
You'd leave a handsome legacy.
You must be mad beyond redress
If my next wish you cannot guess.

Wislawa Szymborska
Die—you can't do that to a cat.
Since what can a cat do
in an empty apartment?
Climb the walls?
Rub up against the furniture?
Nothing seems different here,
but nothing is the same.
Nothing has been moved,
but there's more space.
And at nighttime no lamps are lit.
Footsteps on the staircase,
but they're new ones.
The hand that puts fish on the saucer
has changed, too.
Something doesn't start
at its usual time.
Something doesn't happen
as it should.
Someone was always, always here,
then suddenly disappeared
and stubbornly stays disappeared.
Every closet has been examined.
Every shelf has been explored.
Excavations under the carpet turned up nothing.
A commandment was even broken,
papers scattered everywhere.
What remains to be done.
Just sleep and wait.
Just wait till he turns up,
just let him show his face.
Will he ever get a lesson
on what not to do to a cat.
Sidle toward him
as if unwilling
and ever so slow
on visibly offended paws,
and no leaps or squeals at least to start.

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892--1950)

I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death.
I hear him leading his horse out of the stall; I hear the clatter on the barn floor.
He is in haste; he has business in Cuba, business in the Balkans, many calls to make this morning.
But I will not hold the bridle while he cinches the girth.
And he may mount by himself: I will not give him a leg up.
Though he flick my shoulders with his whip, I will not tell him which way the fox ran.
With his hoof on my breast, I will not tell him where the black boy hides in the swamp.
I shall die, but that is all that I shall do for Death; I am not on his payroll.
I will not tell him the whereabouts of my friends nor of my enemies either.
Though he promises me much, I will not map him the route to any man’s door.
Am I a spy in the land of the living, that I should deliver men to Death?
Brother, the password and the plans of our city are safe with me; never through me
Shall you be overcome.

John Donne (1573-1631)
Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou thin'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death; nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be
Much pleasure, then, from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones and soul's delivery.
Thou'rt slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell;
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than they stroke. Why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And Death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1893-1950)

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, – but the best is lost.
The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) 
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Mary Elizabeth Frye (1904-2004)

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight.
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there -- I do not die.

Visit do not stand at my grave and weep for the story behind this much-misquoted poem.

Robert Hillyer
Bring hemlock, black as Cretan cheese,
And mix a sacramental brew;
A worthy drink for Socrates,
Why not for you?

George Gordon, Lord Byron
Posterity will ne'er survey
A nobler grave than this.
Here lie the bones of Castlereagh:
      Stop, traveler, and piss.

Paul Dehn
Believing that his hate for queers
Proclaimed his love for God
He now (of all queer things, my dears)
Lies under his first sod.

X.J. Kennedy (1929--)
Here lies, neatly wrapped in sod,
Henry Hankins c/o God.
On the day of Resurrection,
May be opened for inspection.

Dorothy Parker

All her hours were yellow sands,
Blown in foolish whorls and tassels;
Slipping warmly through her hands;
Patted into little castles.
Shiny day on shiny day
Tumbled in a rainbow clutter,
As she flipped them all away,
Sent them spinning down the gutter.
Leave for her a red young rose,
Go your way, and save your pity;
She is happy, for she knows
That her dust is very pretty.

Robert Burns
Lament him, Mauchline husbands a',
      He aften did assist ye;
For had ye staid hale weeks awa',
      Your wives they ne'er had miss'd ye.
Ye Mauchline bairns, as on ye press
      To school in bands thegither,
O tread ye lightly on his grass--
Perhaps he was your father.

Edwin Brock

There are many cumbersome ways to kill a man.
You can make him carry a plank of wood
To the top of a hill and nail him to it.
To do this
Properly you require a crowd of people
Wearing sandals, a cock that crows, a cloak
To dissect, a sponge, some vinegar and one
Man to hammer the nails home.
Or you can take a length of steel,
Shaped and chased in a traditional way,
And attempt to pierce the metal cage he wears.
But for this you need white horses,
English trees, men with bows and arrows,
At least two flags, a prince and a
Castle to hold your banquet in.
Dispensing with nobility, you may, if the wind
Allows, blow gas at him. But then you need
A mile of mud sliced through with ditches,
Not to mention black boots, bomb craters,
More mud, a plague of rats, a dozen songs
And some round hats made of steel.
In an age of aeroplanes, you may fly
Miles above your victim and dispose of him by
Pressing one small switch. All you then
Require is an ocean to separate you, two
Systems of government, a nation's scientists,
Several factories, a psychopath and
Land that no one needs for several years.
These are, as I began, cumbersome ways
To kill a man. Simpler, direct, and much more neat
Is to see that he lives somewhere in the middle
Of the twentieth century, and leave him there.


At the boarding house where I live
Things are getting very old.
Long grey hairs are in the butter
And the cheese is green with mold.
When the dog died we had sausage.
When the cat died, catnip tea.
When the landlord died I left it;
Spareribs are too much for me.

W.H. Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Benjamin Franklin King (1857-1894)
      If I should die tonight
And you should come to my cold corpse and say,
Weeping and heartsick o'er my lifeless clay--
      If I should die tonight,
And you should come in deepest grief and woe--
And say: "Here's that ten dollars that I owe,"
      I might arise in my large white cravat
      And say, "What's that?"
      If I should die tonight
And you should come to my cold corpse and kneel,
Clasping my bier to show the grief you feel,
      I say, if I should die to-night
And you should come to me, and there and then
Just even hint 'bout payin' me that ten,
      I might arise the while,
      But I'd drop dead again.

On being told by the dentist that this will be over soon

Phyllis McGinley (1905-1978)

Indeed, it will soon be over, I shall be done
With the querulous drill, the forceps, the clove-smelling cotton.
I can go forth into fresher air, into sun,
This narrow anguish forgotten.
In twenty minutes or forty or half an hour,
I shall be easy, and proud of my hard-got gold,
But your apple of comfort is eaten by worms, and sour.
Your consolation is cold.
This will not last, and the day will be pleasant after.
I'll dine tonight with a witty and favorite friend.
No doubt tomorrow I shall rinse my mouth with laughter.
And also that will end.
The handful of time that I am charily granted
Will likewise pass, to oblivion duly apprenticed.
Summer will blossom and autumn be faintly enchanted.
Then time for the grave, or the dentist.
Because you are shrewd, my man, and your hand is clever,
You must not believe your words have a charm to spell me.
There was never a half of an hour that lasted forever.
Be quiet. You need not tell me.

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892--1950)
Listen, children:
Your father is dead.
From his old coats
I'll make you little jackets:
I'll make you little trousers
From his old pants.
There'll be in his pockets
Things he used to put there,
Keys and pennies
Covered with tobacco;
Dan shall have the pennies
To save in his bank;
Anne shall have the keys
To make a pretty noise with.
Life must go on,
And the dead be forgotten.
Life Must Go On,
Though good men die;
Anne, eat your breakfast.
Dan, take your medicine;
Life must go on;
I forget just why.

Jane Kenyon

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.
Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.
Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.
Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.
To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.
Let it come, as it will, and don't
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

Roger McGough (1937-)

Let me die a youngman's death
not a clean and inbetween
the sheets holywater death
not a famous-last-words
peaceful out of breath death
When I'm 73
and in constant good tumour
may I be mown down at dawn
by a bright red sports car
on my way home
from an allnight party
Or when I'm 91
with silver hair
and sitting in a barber's chair
may rival gangsters
with hamfisted tommyguns burst in
and give me a short back and insides
Or when I'm 104
and banned from the Cavern
may my mistress
catching me in bed with her daughter
and fearing for her son
cut me up into little pieces
and throw away every piece but one
Let me die a youngman's death
not a free from sin tiptoe in
candle wax and waning death
not a curtains drawn by angels borne
'what a nice way to go' death

(for a child who skipped rope)

X. J. Kennedy (1929--)

Here lies resting, out of breath,
Out of turns, Elizabeth
Whose quicksilver toes not quite
Cleared the whirring edge of night.
Earth whose circles round us skim
Till they catch the lightest limb,
Shelter now Elizabeth
And for her sake trip up Death.

Tony Harrison

Though my mother was already two years dead
Dad kept her slippers warming by the gas,
put hot water bottles her side of the bed
and still went to renew her transport pass.
You couldn't just drop in. You had to phone.
He'd put you off an hour to give him time
to clear away her things and look alone
as though his still raw love were such a crime.
He couldn't risk my blight of disbelief
though sure that very soon he'd hear her key
scrape in the rusted lock and end his grief.
He knew she'd just popped out to get the tea.
I believe life ends with death, and that is all.
You haven't both gone shopping; just the same,
in my new black leather phone book there's your name
and the disconnected number I still call.

Archibald MacLeish (1892--1982)

Around, around the sun we go:
The moon goes round the earth.
We do not die of death:
We die of vertigo.

Percy Bysshe Shelley
Music, when soft voices die,
      Vibrates in the memory.
Odours, when sweet violets sicken,
      Live within the sense they quicken.
Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
Are heaped for the beloved's bed;
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone,
Love itself shall slumber on.

Lilith Lorraine
If it so happens
 that when I die
I shall discover
that this whole terrestial madhouse
has been a horror story
invented by me,
to escape the boredom
of my older playthings,
shot through with not too subtle
that I, too, was invented
to relieve the boredom
of Someone Else....
it will be no more than I expected.

Robert Frost (1874--1963)

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Ogden Nash (1902-1971)
People expect old men to die,
They do not really mourn old men.
Old men are different. People look
At them with eyes that wonder when...
People watch with unshocked eyes;
But the old men know when an old man dies.

Robert Burns
Here lies with death auld Grizzel Grim
      Rineluden's ugly witch.
O death how horrid is thy taste,
To lie with such a bitch!

Jane Kenyon (1947-1995)

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.
At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

Robert Louis Stevenson
From: Underwood

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me;
"Here he lies where he longed to be,
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill."

Oscar Wilde (1856-1900)
Tread lightly, she is near
      Under the snow,
Speak gently, she can hear
      The daisies grow.
All her bright golden hair
      Tarnished with rust,
She that was young and fair
      Fallen to dust.
Lily-like, white as snow,
      She hardly knew
She was a woman, so
      Sweetly she grew.
Coffin-board, heavy stone,
      Lie on her breast;
I vex my heart alone,
      She is at rest.
Peace, peace; she cannot hear
      Lyre or sonnet;
All my life's buried here.
      Heap earth upon it.

William Rose Benet

We knew so much, her beautiful eyes could lighten,
Her beautiful laughter follow our phrase;
Or the gaze go hard with pain, the lips tighten,
On the bitterer days.
Oh, ours was all knowing then, all generous displaying.
Such wisdom we had to show:
But now there is merely silence, silence, silence crying
All we did not know.

William Wordsworth
She dwelt among the untrodden ways
      Beside the springs of Dove;
A maid whom there were none to praise
      And very few to love.
A violet by a mossy stone
      Half-hidden from the eye;
Fair as a star, when only one
      Is shining in the sky.
She lived unknown, and few could know
      When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and oh
      The difference to me!

Henry King (1592-1669)

Like to the falling of a star,
Or as the flights of eagles are,
Or like the fresh spring’s gaudy hue,
Or silver drops of morning dew,
Or like a wind that chafes the flood,
Or bubbles which on water stood:
Even such is man, whose borrowed light
Is straight called in, and paid to night.
The wind blows out, the bubble dies,
The spring entombed in autumn lies,
The dew dries up, the star is shot,
The flight is past, and man forgot.

Christina Rossetti

When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me:
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.
I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain;
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.

Robert Frost (1874-1963)
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 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.

W.H. Auden

As the poets have mournfully sung,
Death takes the innocent young,
      The rolling-in-money,
      The screamingly funny,
And those who are very well hung.

Matt McGinn (1928-1975)

The butchers of Glasgow have all got their pride
But they’ll tell you that Willie’s the prince
For Willie the butcher he slaughtered his wife
And he sold her for mutton and mince.
It’s a terrible story to have to be telt
And a terrible thing to be done
For what kind of man is it slaughters his wife
And sells her a shilling a pun
For lifting his knife and ending her life
And hanging her high like a sheep
You widnae object but you widnae expect
He wid sell the poor woman so cheap
But the Gallowgate folk were delighted
It didnae cause them any tears
They swore that Willie’s wife Mary
Was the best meat he’d sold them for years.

A.D. Hope (1907- )

The doctor loves the patient,
The patient loves his bed;
A fine place to be born in,
The best place to be dead.
The doctor loves the patient
Because he means to die;
The patient loves the patient bed
That shares his agony.
The bed adores the doctor,
His cool and skillful touch
Soon brings another patient
Who loves her just as much.

Joseph Payne Brennan
"The wind has a tongue tonight," he said,
And knocked his pipe against the chair.
Just then a chestnut jumped and split;
When they looked again he wasn't there.

"Guess I'll hitch my chair up," someone said,
And moved in closer toward the fire.
Sitting warm, they watched the chestnuts,
Whose jumped first and whose higher.
The next day when they found him dead,
Each one recalled what he had said.
They knew that night no wind had blown
And wondered what he might have known.
They lay and pondered in the dark
His enigmatic last remark,
And cursed the chestnut's sudden height
That kept them all from just: "Goodnight!"

A.E. Housman
"Is my team plowing,
      That I used to drive
And hear the harness jingle,
      When I was alive?"
Aye, the horses trample,
      The harness jingles now;
No change though you lie under
      The land you used to plow.
"Is football playing
      Along the river shore,
With lads to chase the leather,
      Now I stand up no more?"
Aye, the ball is flying,
      The lads play heart and soul,
The goal stands up, the keeper
      Stands up to keep the goal.
"Is my girl happy,
      That I thought hard to leave,
And has she tired of weeping
      As she lies down at eve?"
Aye, she lies down lightly,
      She lies not down to weep:
Your girl is well-contented.
      Be still, my lad, and sleep.
"Is my friend hearty,
      Now I am thin and pine;
And has he found to sleep in
      A better bed than mine?"
Aye, lad, I lie easy.
      I lie as lads would choose;
I cheer a dead man's sweetheart.
      Never ask me whose.

Frances Cornford (1886-1960)

I wakened on my hot, hard bed,
Upon the pillow lay my head;
Beneath the pillow I could hear
My little watch was ticking clear.
I thought the throbbing of it went
Like my continual discontent;
I thought it said in every tick:
I am so sick, so sick, so sick;
O death, come quick, come quick, come quick,
Come quick, come quick, come quick, come quick.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)
It costs me never a stab nor squirm
To tread by chance upon a worm.
"Aha, my little dear," I say,
"Your clan will pay me back one day."

David R. Slavitt

Who does not love the Titanic?
If they sold passage tomorrow for that same crossing,
who would not buy?
To go down...We all go down, mostly
alone. But with crowds of people, friends, servants,
well fed, with music, with lights! Ah!
And the world, shocked, mourns, as it ought to do
and almost never does. There will be the books and movies
to remind our grandchildren who we were
and how we died, and give them a good cry.
Not so bad, after all. The cold
water is anaesthetic and very quick.
The cries on all sides must be a comfort.
We all go: only a few, first class.

Gerald Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

David Ignatow (1914- )
I have something to tell you.
I'm listening.
I'm dying.
I'm sorry to hear.
I'm growing old.
It's terrible.
It is, I thought you should know.
Of course, and I'm sorry. Keep in touch.
I will and you too.
And let me know what's new.
Certainly, though it can't be much.
And stay well.
And you too.
And go slow.
And you too.

Christina Rossetti

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
      Yes, to the very end.
Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
      From morn to night, my friend.
But is there for the night a resting-place?
      A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
      You cannot miss that inn.
Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
      Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
      They will not keep you standing at that door.
Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
      Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
      Yea, beds for all who come.


Why Girls’ Brains Mature Faster Than Boys’ Brains

Why Girls’ Brains Mature Faster Than Boys’ Brains

It’s always been conventional wisdom that girls reach maturity more quickly than boys, but now scientists have provided some proof.

In new research published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, an international group of researchers led by a team from Newcastle University in England found that girls’ brains march through the reorganization and pruning typical of normal brain development earlier than boys’ brains.

In the study, in which 121 people between ages 4 to 40 were scanned using MRIs, the scientists documented the ebb and flow of new neural connections, and found that some brain fibers that bridged far-flung regions of the brain tended to remain stable, while shorter connections, many of which were redundant, were edited away. And the entire reorganization seemed to occur sooner in girls’ brains than in boys’ brains.

Females also tended to have more connections across the two hemispheres of the brain. The researchers believe that the earlier reorganization in girls makes the brain work more efficiently, and therefore reach a more mature state for processing the environment.

What drives the gender-based difference in timing isn’t clear from the current study, but the results suggest that may be a question worth investigating.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Psychology of eating adds dimension to weight-loss efforts

 Stewart weighed about 300 pounds before he began the Optifast program.

Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette

Psychology of eating adds dimension to weight-loss efforts

David Stewart says the Optifast program “probably saved my life.”

For nearly his entire life, David Stewart had a relationship with food he never even thought about, much less understood.

So when he looks back, it’s not surprising that there were no moments of clarity that pushed him to change his life. Instead, it was a culmination of things that mounted over time.

There were the expanding waistlines on his pants, which went from 40 inches to 42 inches to 44 inches.

There were the old pictures he’d look at, the ones that made him reminisce about the trimmer man he used to be.

And then there was being diagnosed with hypertension and Type 2 diabetes.

By then, he knew he needed to lose weight.

For Stewart, though, a gym wasn’t the answer. Through friends, he heard about a program at Lutheran Health Network’s Weight Management Center, and soon enough, the now-50-year-old was on the phone, asking how to enroll.

When he entered the program in November 2010, he weighed 303 pounds. Within a year, he’d lost more than a third of his body weight.

And what the program addressed most, what helped him the most, was something he never expected: the psychology behind his eating habits.
Lifestyle changes
Lutheran Health Network’s Bariatric Center and Weight Management Center offers  the Optifast program, something Lutheran has offered for 15 years.

“We don’t like to use the word ‘diet,’ ” Wheatcraft, the office coordinator, said of the program. “They are ‘lifestyle changes.’ That’s what we prefer.”

The program is geared toward people who have a body mass index greater than 27 or who need medical supervision while losing weight.

People who enroll typically are between the ages of 30 and 60 – though some are younger or older – who are looking to lose more than 50 pounds or more without surgery

Many who call have tried diets to lose weight, according to Wheatcraft, and have some knowledge about the food they should be eating.

People in the program are overseen and counseled by health care professionals, starting with a visit to the doctor.

Eating while bored
What drew Stewart to the program was the seeming simplicity of it.

He knew what he’d have to do and when to do it.

Those going into the program spend the first three months drinking nothing but five shakes a day and one protein bar. ... nothing more.

After those three months, real food is reintroduced.

The program also makes those who go through it face some of their psychological issues when it comes to food.

Stewart knew going in that group sessions would be a part of the program ...

During that meeting, a behavior specialist went around the small group and zeroed in on what food meant to each person there.

“That’s the linchpin to the whole thing,” Stewart said. “That whole environment, figuring out in your brain why you’re eating the way you do.”

For Stewart, he was eating while bored. 

“One thing people misunderstand is that there’s a huge psychological component to this,” Stewart said.

Success story
Stewart knows the importance of exercise when it comes to losing weight. He bikes and runs regularly – though he hates running – and loves to play basketball.

As he went through the Optifast program – and the weight began to melt off – he found all of these things much easier to do. He was especially more adept at getting up and down the basketball court.

By October 2011, less than a year into the program, he had dropped to 199 pounds.

“It’s amazing how the knees could work without those 100 pounds,” he said.


Intelligence is less about what you know (from past) more about ability to predict, mentally simulate and act on future.  
- Martin Seligman


10 Twitter Feeds for a Timely Dose of Inspiration

Need something stronger than a double-espresso to get motivated? These Twitter feeds could offer just the jolt of inspiration you're seeking.

Blair Singer: @blairsinger
"You may set a goal and not reach it, but you will always have accomplished something else in the process."
Author, entrepreneur, sales guru and Rich Dad advisor Blair Singer fills his Twitter timeline with business and sales takeaways and motivational quotes to rev up your entrepreneurial spirit.

Simon Sinek: @SimonSinek

"Authorities act with themselves in mind. Leaders act with others in mind. Authorities take. Leaders give. Authorities die. Leaders live on."

Author and a leading voice of inspiration, Simon Sinek is a frequent speaker at TED events. His timeline is frequently updated with inspirational one-liners that are sure to spark your drive.

Brendon Burchard: @brendonburchard
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. --Jim Ryuh"
Personal development coach Brendon Burchard, author of Millionaire Messenger, packs his Twitter feed with inspiring quotes from around the web and, of course, a few of his own motivational messages.

Dawn Thierfelder: @coachdawn 
" 'We ANTICIPATE What's to Come... then I G N O R E what's Actually Here' -- Stephan Rechtschaffen"
Success coach Dawn Thierfelder offers frequent updates of uplifting and inspiring quotes from movies, thought-leaders and others.

Ingrid Elfver: @ingridelfver
" Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough. -- Josh Billings"
Ingrid Elfver is a brand consultant to celebrities whose timeline is a goldmine of moving quotes, including those from other thought-leaders.

Daniel Foisy: @wisdomalacarte
"Super powers always fighting, but Mona Lisa just keeps on smiling. -- Queen"
If you're a big music buff, then you will enjoy Daniel Foisy's timeline filled with lyrics from classic musicians and songs, applicable to just about any situation in life.

Paulo Coelho: @paulocoelho
"When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too #TheAlchemist"
Brazilian author and a member of the U.N. Messengers of Peace (along with the likes of George Clooney and Stevie Wonder), Paulo Coelho reminds his followers of the power of love and the human spirit.

Kim Kiyosaki: @kimkiyosaki
"Being crystal clear and what you want and what your dreams are makes the fulfillment process flow smoother."
Business expert and entrepreneur Kim Kiyosaki often directs her tweets to women, focusing on advice on business, finances and living life well.

Tony Robbins: @tonyrobbins
""Add more value than anyone else does, and you'll have a chance to win." @tonyrobbins on @piersmorgan #CNN"
Entrepreneur, author and peak-performance strategist Anthony Robbins often tweets business-centric motivational quotes, as well as tips on living a healthier life and maintaining a sound mind.

Russell Simmons: @unclerush
"You can never tell from what direction your gift will be coming, so you must stay open to all possibilities."
Entrepreneur Russell Simmons, founder of the label Def Jam, regularly publishes tweets motivational for nearly any person from any walk of life.

What Twitter feeds do you follow for inspiration?  

Nine Things Successful People Do Differently:

Why have you been so successful in reaching some of your goals, but not

If you aren't sure, you are far from alone in your confusion. It turns out that even brilliant, highly accomplished people are pretty lousy when it comes to understanding why they succeed or fail.

The intuitive answer — that you are born predisposed to certain talents and lacking in others — is really just one small piece of the puzzle.

In fact, decades of research on achievement suggests that: successful people reach their goals - not simply because of who they are, but
-  more often because of what they do.

Nine Things Successful People Do Differently:

1.)   Get specific. When you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible.

"Lose 5 pounds" is a better goal than "lose some weight," because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like.

Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there.

Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal.

Just promising you'll "eat less" or "sleep more" is too vague — be clear and precise.

"I'll be in bed by 10pm on weeknights" leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you've actually done it.

2.)   Seize the moment to act on your goals. 

Given how busy most of us are, and how many goals we are juggling at once, it's not surprising that we routinely miss opportunities to act on a goal because we simply fail to notice them.

Did you really have no time to work out today?

No chance at any point to return that phone call?

Achieving your goal means grabbing hold of these opportunities before they slip through your fingers.

To seize the moment, decide when and where you will take each action you want to take, in advance.

Again, be as specific as possible (e.g., "If it's Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I'll work out for 30 minutes before work.")

Studies show that this kind of planning will help your brain to detect and seize the opportunity when it arises, increasing your chances of success by roughly 300%.

3.)   Know exactly how far you have left to go. Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of your progress — if not by others, then by you yourself.

If you don't know how well you are doing, you can't adjust your behavior or your strategies accordingly.

Check your progress frequently — weekly, or even daily, depending on the goal.

4.)   Be a realistic optimist. 

 When you are setting a goal, by all means engage in lots of positive thinking about how likely you are to achieve it.

Believing in your ability to succeed is enormously helpful for creating and sustaining your motivation.

But whatever you do, don't underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal.

Most goals worth achieving require time, planning, effort, and persistence.

Studies show that thinking things will come to you easily and effortlessly leaves you ill-prepared for the journey ahead, and significantly increases the odds of failure.

5.).  Focus on getting better, rather than being good.   Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability.

Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed — that no matter what we do, we won't improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills.

Fortunately, decades of research suggest that the belief in fixed ability is completely wrong — abilities of all kinds are profoundly malleable.

Embracing the fact that you can change will allow you to make better choices, and reach your fullest potential.

People whose goals are about getting better, rather than being good, take difficulty in stride, and appreciate the journey as much as the destination.

6.)  Have grit. Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty.

Studies show that gritty people obtain more education in their lifetime, and earn higher college GPAs. Grit predicts which cadets will stick out their first grueling year at West Point. In fact, grit even predicts which round contestants will make it to at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The good news is, if you aren't particularly gritty now, there is something you can do about it.

People who lack grit more often than not believe that they just don't have the innate abilities successful people have. If that describes your own thinking .... well, there's no way to put this nicely: you are wrong.

As I mentioned earlier, effort, planning, persistence, and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed.

Embracing this knowledge will not only help you see yourself and your goals more accurately, but also do wonders for your grit.

7.)  Build your willpower muscle. Your self-control "muscle" is just like the other muscles in your body — when it doesn't get much exercise, it becomes weaker over time. But when you give it regular workouts by putting it to good use, it will grow stronger and stronger, and better able to help you successfully reach your goals.

To build willpower, take on a challenge that requires you to do something you'd honestly rather not do.

Give up high-fat snacks, do 100 sit-ups a day, stand up straight when you catch yourself slouching, try to learn a new skill.

When you find yourself wanting to give in, give up, or just not bother — don't.

Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they occur ("If I have a craving for a snack, I will eat one piece of fresh or three pieces of dried fruit.") It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier, and that's the whole point.

As your strength grows, you can take on more challenges and step-up your self-control workout.

8.)  Don't tempt fate. No matter how strong your willpower muscle becomes, it's important to always respect the fact that it is limited, and if you overtax it you will temporarily run out of steam.

Don't try to take on two challenging tasks at once, if you can help it (like quitting smoking and dieting at the same time).

And don't put yourself in harm's way — many people are overly-confident in their ability to resist temptation, and as a result they put themselves in situations where temptations abound.

Successful people know not to make reaching a goal harder than it already is.

9.)   Focus on what you will do, not what you won't do.

Do you want to successfully lose weight, quit smoking, or put a lid on your bad temper?

Then plan how you will replace bad habits with good ones, rather than focusing only on the bad habits themselves.

Research on thought suppression (e.g., "Don't think about white bears!") has shown that trying to avoid a thought makes it even more active in your mind.

The same holds true when it comes to behavior — by trying not to engage in a bad habit, our habits get strengthened rather than broken.

If you want to change your ways, ask yourself, What will I do instead?

For example, if you are trying to gain control of your temper and stop flying off the handle, you might make a plan like "If I am starting to feel angry, then I will take three deep breaths to calm down."

By using deep breathing as a replacement for giving in to your anger, your bad habit will get worn away over time until it disappears completely.

Remember, you don't need to become a different person to become a more successful one.

It's never what you are, but what you do.

Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. is a motivational psychologist, and author of the new book Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals (Hudson Street Press, 2011).

She is also an expert blogger on motivation and leadership for Fast Company and Psychology Today.

Her personal blog, The Science of Success, can be found at

Follow her on Twitter @hghalvorson

More blog posts by Heidi Grant Halvorson

More on: Career planning, Managing yourself

Learn more about the science of success with Heidi Grant Halvorson's HBR

Single, based on this blog post.

by Heidi Grant Halvorson

Nine Things Successful People Do Differently - Heidi Grant Halvorson - Harvard Business Review

Contributor-  Heidi Grant Halvorson

I am a psychologist, speaker, and author. My research has focused on identifying the strategies that help us overcome obstacles to success at work and in our personal lives. I'm the author of Focus (Hudson Street Press, Penguin, 2013), Nine Things Successful People Do Differently (Harvard Business Press, 2011) and Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals (Hudson Street Press, Dec 2010). I'm also the Associate Director of the Motivation Science Center at the Columbia University Business School, and I blog regularly for HBR, Fast Company, and Huffington Post.