Are you seeing a psychiatrist?' as a conversation opener would nowadays earn you a punch in the nose, but for fifty years it was a compliment. It meant, 'One can plainly see you are sensitive, intense, and interesting, and therefore neurotic.' Only the dullest of clods trudged around without a neurosis.
Toads are conservative animals, I think, and not much given to expecting the best from fortune. Some weeks ago, well before the end of October, I accidentally dug up one while turning over some garden earth. I was surprised, naturally, when one of the clods heaved over on its die and there, in some annoyance, sat at toad.
We say 'forest' but this word is made of the unknown, the unfamiliar, the unencompassed. The earth. Clods of dirt. Pebbles. On a clear day you rest among ordinary, everyday things that have been familiar to you since childhood, grass, bushes, a dog (or a cat), a chair, but that changes when you realize that every object is an enormous army, an inexhaustible swarm.
Most cats do not approach humans recklessly. The possibility of concealed weapons, clods or sticks, tend to make them reserved. Homeless cats in particular-with some justification, unfortunately-consider humans their natural enemies. Much ceremony must be observed, and a number of diplomatic feelers put out, before establishing a state of truce.
It was wonderful love that Christ should rather die for us than for the angels that fell. They were creatures of a more noble extract, and in all probability might have brought greater revenues of glory to God; yet that Christ should pass by those golden vessels, and make us clods of earth into stars of glory -- Oh, the hyperbole of Christ's love!
Stars are good too. I wish I could get some to put in my hair. But I suppose I never can. You would be surprised to find how far off they are, for they do not look it. When they first showed last night I tried to knock some down with a pole, but it didn't reach, which astonished me. Then I tried clods till I was all tired out, but I never got one. I did make some close shots, for I saw the black blot of the clod sail right into thee midst of the golden clusters forty or fifty times, just barely missing them, and if I could've held out a little longer, maybe I could've got one.
Intellectuals love Jefferson and hate markets, and intellectuals write most of the books. Intellectuals often think that they should, for the benefit of mankind, act as fiduciaries for the clods who don't have to be intellectuals, and I suspect that has to do with [why historians love Jefferson and not Hamilton, even though Hamilton's vision of America's commercial future was vastly more accurate than Jefferson's].
John Steele Gordon
The mysteries of a universe made of drops of fire and clods of mud do not concern us in the least. The fate of humanity condemned ultimately to perish from cold is not worth troubling about. If you take it to heart it becomes an unendurable tragedy. If you believe in improvement you must weep, for the attained perfection must end in cold, darkness and silence. In a dispassionate view the ardour for reform, improvement for virtue, and knowledge, and even for beauty is only a vain sticking up for appearances as though one were anxious about the cut of one's clothes in a community of blind men.
God is the one goal of all our passions and emotions. If you want to be angry, be angry with Him. Chide your Beloved, chide your Friend. Whom else can you safely chide? Mortal man will not patiently put up with your anger; there will be a reaction. If you are angry with me I am sure quickly to react, because I cannot patiently put up with your anger. Say unto the Beloved, "Why do You not come to me; why do You leave me thus alone?" Where is there any enjoyment but in Him? What enjoyment can there be in little clods of earth?
Belgium! name unromantic and unpoetic, yet name that whenever uttered has in my ear a sound, in my heart an echo, such as no other assemblage of syllables, however sweet or classic, can produce. Belgium! I repeat the word, now as I sit alone near midnight. It stirs my world of the past like a summons to resurrection; the graves unclose, the dead are raised; thoughts, feelings, memories that slept, are seen by me ascending from the clods-haloed most of them-but while I gaze on their vapoury forms, and strive to ascertain definitely their outline, the sound which wakened them dies, and they sink, each and all, like a light wreath of mist, absorbed in the mould, recalled to urns, resealed in monuments.
Twelve years ago, when I was 10, I played at being a soldier. I walked up the brook behind our house in Bronxville to a junglelike, overgrown field and dug trenches down to water level with my friends. Then, pretending that we were doughboys in France, we assaulted one another with clods of clay and long, dry reeds. We went to the village hall and studied the rust rifles and machine guns that the Legion post had brought home from the First World War and imagined ourselves using them to fight Germans. But we never seriously thought that we would ever have to do it. The stories we heard later; the Depression veterans with their apple stands on sleety New York street corners; the horrible photographs of dead bodies and mutilated survivors; 'Johnny Got His Gun' and the shrill college cries of the Veterans of Future Wars drove the small-boy craving for war so far from our minds that when it finally happened, it seemed absolutely unbelievable. If someone had told a small boy hurling mud balls that he would be throwing hand grenades twelve years later, he would probably have been laughed at. I have always been glad that I could not look into the future.
David Kenyon Webster
Birds of the Western Front Your mess-tin cover's lost. Kestrels hover above the shelling. They don't turn a feather when hunting-ground explodes in yellow earth, flickering star-shells and flares from the Revelation of St John. You look away from artillery lobbing roar and suck and snap against one corner of a thicket to the partridge of the war zone making its nest in shattered clods. History floods into subsoil to be blown apart. You cling to the hard dry stars of observation. How you survive. They were all at it: Orchids of the Crimea nature notes from the trench leaving everything unsaid - hell's cauldron with souls pushed in, demons stoking flames beneath - for the pink-flecked wings of a chaffinch flashed like mediaeval glass. You replace gangrene and gas mask with a dream of alchemy: language of the birds translating human earth to abstract and divine. While machine-gun tracery gutted that stricken wood you watched the chaffinch flutter to and fro through splintered branches, breaking buds and never a green bough left. Hundreds lay in there wounded. If any, you say, spotted one bird they may have wondered why a thing with wings would stay in such a place. She must have, sure, had chicks she was too terrified to feed, too loyal to desert. Like roots clutching at air you stick to the lark singing fit to burst at dawn sounding insincere above the burning bush: plough-land latticed like folds of brain with shell-ravines where nothing stirs but black rats, jittery sentries and the lice sliding across your faces every night. Where every elixir's gone wrong you hold to what you know. A little nature study. A solitary magpie blue and white spearing a strand of willow. One for sorrow. One for Babylon, Ninevah and Northern France, for mice and desolation, the burgeoning barn-owl population and never a green bough left.