Blue sky this morning

Listened to a podcast on poetry. Enjoyed it but was puzzled to hear them calling each other mom and dad. Realized it was a Christian homeschooling outfit from the West Coast. Still, not bad….made me think about the whole credentialing thing — who gets to wear the mantle of expert — and one of the participants did offer an interesting phrase — literary density. I like this idea as some texts definitely carry more weight and can sustain repeated, thorough analysis, with new payoffs each time.

This too shall pass

Went down the internet rabbit hole to try and figure out the source of this saying. I like the sound of “this too shall pass” more than “this, too, shall pass away.” I thought it was biblical, but no, it’s a story that’s floated around for awhile. Persian poets? Jewish folklore?

Abraham Lincoln, though, used it in a speech in 1859. Here are additional excerpts from that speech:

 The mind, already trained to thought, in the country school, or higher school, cannot fail to find there an exhaustless source of profitable enjoyment. Every blade of grass is a study; and to produce two, where there was but one, is both a profit and a pleasure. And not grass alone; but soils, seeds, and seasons — hedges, ditches, and fences, draining, droughts, and irrigation — plowing, hoeing, and harrowing — reaping, mowing, and threshing — saving crops, pests of crops, diseases of crops, and what will prevent or cure them — implements, utensils, and machines, their relative merits, and [how] to improve them — hogs, horses, and cattle — sheep, goats, and poultry — trees, shrubs, fruits, plants, and flowers — the thousand things of which these are specimens — each a world of study within itself.

The thought recurs that education — cultivated thought — can best be combined with agricultural labor, or any labor, on the principle of thorough work — that careless, half performed, slovenly work, makes no place for such combination. And thorough work, again, renders sufficient, the smallest quantity of ground to each man. And this again, conforms to what must occur in a world less inclined to wars, and more devoted to the arts of peace, than heretofore.

It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! — how consoling in the depths of affliction! “And this, too, shall pass away.” And yet let us hope it is not quite true. Let us hope, rather, that by the best cultivation of the physical world, beneath and around us; and the intellectual and moral world within us, we shall secure an individual, social, and political prosperity and happiness, whose course shall be onward and upward, and which, while the earth endures, shall not pass away.

Three echoes as I read and re-read Lincoln’s words:

one, the line from the Gettysburg address: “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

two, at 1:28, facing a creature of fire and ash: you shall not pass…

three, All Things Must Pass.

Room of Requirement

From a definition early in the show:

A library: one of the few places left in America where you can enter without requirements, where you don’t have to buy or believe anything.

It’s an interesting idea, though, one to think about: how rarely or how often does school provide a room of requirement? How do we distinguish between what we think we want, what we think we need, and what we require?

This American Life: The Room of Requirement