Monday, April 28, 2014

On Tipping Points

Two years ago I wrote up a ten-part series, entitled ‘The Loser Generation,’ that dealt with the issues of the 25-30 bracket. Two years have gone by, and it seems like everyone is now interested in what I was back then: campaign finance reform.

In 2012 Citizen’s United was already two years old. Robert Reich wrote ‘Supercapitalism’ back in 2007, and ‘Beyond Outrage’ had just hit the kindles. Still, campaign finance seemed far off. The 2012 election ended up being the most expensive in history, and the candidates didn’t exactly make it a priority.

Perhaps it was the recent McCutcheon decision, but I doubt it. All of a sudden everyone’s talking campaign finance reform. Elizabeth Warren has a book (‘A Fighting Chance’). Justice Stevens has a book (‘Six Amendments’). There are multiple movements: New Hampshire Rebellion, The American Anti-Corruption Act (affiliated with Represent US), the No Labels movement… Perhaps some people realized there was political capital to be gained by re-enfranchising the American people.

Meanwhile I’m still ruminating and talking to people about my own movement, the one proposed two years ago, the Legislative Party. This notion is that we target the worst offenders in campaign finance and lobbying, and run identical candidates in their districts who will pledge to three things:

1) Get rid of money's corruption in Washington: no more lobbyists
2) Create a constitutional amendment to ensure all candidates get equal finances
3) Undo the Supreme Court's argument that money is speech

This would re-level the playing field, I think. Simple to list, but difficult to achieve when the game is already so terribly stacked against us. However, the reason why I came up with this in the first place, is because I fear the consequences of a non-legislative, non-peaceful change in this country. Campaign finance reform must change.

But the story is a deeper one. Reich started to grasp at it in last year’s documentary, ‘Inequality for All’. Now, on bookshelves in English, we have Thomas Piketty’s new tome ‘Capital in the 21st Century’ saying the same thing that Warren is arguing for as a Senator, and Justice Stevens is lamenting in his musings on the Constitution: The inequality between wealthy and poor is so vast, and so unfairly stacked, that we’re in a state of crisis, a necessary watershed confrontation.

Income inequality is a predictor of happiness, and we have some of the worst inequality in the world. Yet we also have achieved a ‘Brave New World’ level of complacence and apathy. Are we, as Neil Postman predicted some thirty years ago, “entertaining ourselves to death”? We rank 192nd in equality, of 196 countries, bottom of the list. Not surprising, then, that we were ranked 105th in happiness in 2012.

How much more will it take? Americans are miserable, looking for distraction, and middle class wages stagnated five presidential administrations ago, not only with no recovery, but with serious losses. Education is far more expensive than it used to be. Entry-level jobs pay less than they did in the 70s, even with a degree. Food is more expensive. Gas. But not only has the middle class lost purchasing power, the whole class has shrunk in comparison to the economy. In 1970 the middle class made up 70% of the U.S. economy. Now it makes up only 45%. And to be very clear, that is not the ownership of wealth. If the middle class owned 45% of the wealth, we’d be fine. What it means is that the middle class is responsible for 45% of the nation’s wealth, which is disgusting given how little of it we hold. America’s middle class, once the best-off in the world, no longer holds that distinction.

If you break it into quintiles it gets worse. According to data from 2009, these images show wealth inequality:

That’s not good. That’s bad.

1% own 40% of all the wealth in this nation. The bottom 80%, including the entire middle class, owns only 7% between them.

Money, therefore, can’t be speech. Not only is it totally inequitable, but it’s also illogical. Money ≠ Speech. If it did, then some people would have the right to more "speech" than others, a falsehood that is self-evident. If you, or anyone, value the Constitution and First Amendment rights, then they should not support that money is speech. No one person gets more of a say than anyone else.

Some have argued that this middle class decline is due to the shrinking numbers in unions, and it certainly is a clear correlation, if not causation. Not only has the decline of unions exactly matched the decline in middle class purchasing power, but studies have shown that states with higher proportions of union membership also have a stronger middle class. Pretty compelling data, and in-line with the likes of Warren and Piketty, who consistently have said that companies do not look after the middle class, but only the CEOs. Anyone who remembers the 2007 crash knows that Wall Street, and America’s businesses generally, are not in it for their workers. If they were, why would entry-level wages be so much less now than they were 40 years ago? Why would the middle class, responsible for driving the economy, not be better recompensed for their labor?

How else can we make money, if not through labor? We could invest, sure – but the bottom 50% of Americans account for only .05% of the nation’s investing. You can’t invest if you don’t have the cash in the first place, and with the rising cost of living, that means we can’t put our money in the market. It used to be a safe bet to put your money in your mortgage, but since the nosedive housing took in recent years that’s no longer a safe bet, either, in fact it’s quite risky. And the chance to be a homeowner, again, requires capital at the start, which is increasingly hard to come by.  About 60% of Americans own homes, unchanged for 50 years, and worse than much of Europe. Housing isn’t going to fix this problem, even if it made sense to invest in housing in the past.

I sincerely hope all three of these make sense someday. I want labor, investing, and home ownership to be aspirations as well as secure means of getting ahead. But for now they either aren’t viable or aren’t paying off.

What now?

The Legislative Party is still on the table. But Americans are, according to statistical polls, actually losing faith in democracy. This is an election year, and people are more bitter than ever. From the Huffington Post:

“Half say America's system of democracy needs either "a lot of changes" or a complete overhaul, according to the poll conducted by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Just 1 in 20 says it works well and needs no changes.

“Americans, who have a reputation for optimism, have a sharply pessimistic take on their government after years of disappointment in Washington.

“The percentage of Americans saying the nation is heading in the right direction hasn't topped 50 in about a decade. In the new poll, 70 percent lack confidence in the government's ability "to make progress on the important problems and issues facing the country in 2014."”

This goes right along with disapproval ratings. Obama’s around 45%. About the same for the Supreme Court. Congress? 13%. Yet the call for a third party is at all-time highs of around 60%.

But if voters are apathetic (and they are – the U.S. ranks 139 out of 172, just below Togo) then what will get them to the polls? And if, as the polling points out, most Americans think drastic change is needed, then why is apathy so high? The obvious solution is that people don’t think their vote can make a difference anymore. Even if they went to pull the lever, the distinctions between candidates are negligible – they both are “party hacks” “Washington insiders” or “corporate pawns”. To get Americans interested in politics, they have to see real differences. And in the era of big money, really, what are the differences?

So we face a paradox. Without campaign finance reform, Americans won’t go to the polls. And if Americans don’t go to the polls, there won’t be any campaign finance reform.

We have yet to see if the movements bubbling up for 2014 and 2016 will amount to anything. If they do not, we have three choices:

1)      Legislative Party
2)      Slow decline as Americans blithely give up their freedoms and democracy
3)      Chaotic, painful revolution

For me, the answer is obvious. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Random Access Crap: An Unposted Review from January

Why is it when I delve into contemporary music culture I am usually disappointed?

I like Daft Punk’s ‘Discovery’. A lot. It is a delightful blend of upbeat dance tracks and slower love songs. So When I hear the horribly bland imperative “Lose yourself to dance” over a weak beat on their new ‘Random Access Memories’ I’m concerned. Not only that – the songs have become terribly predictable. I found myself predicting key changes and lyrics. Sure, in dance music there’s repetition. But this was dull.

This is the first album I’ve bothered with since ‘The Electric Lady’ due mainly to the respect I had for ‘Discovery’ combined with the approval of the Grammy award. I’m not part of the zeitgeist, but I want to be aware of the cultural touchstones of the era.

It’s going to be one of those divisive shifts, like the distinction between ‘Aquemini’ and ‘Stankonia’ for OutKast (remember them?). Of course there was ‘Human After All’ in between for Daft Punk, but most people didn’t care for that attempt.

Slow crap. I don’t need techno slow crap. If I want slow electronica I’ll go to Brian Eno, circa 1978. If I want vocoder sounds I’ll listen to Kraftwerk, again circa 1978. What the hell did this album add, achieve, or innovate? I’m ready to blame a lot of this on contributing songwriter Paul Williams, whose best song was “Rainbow Connection” from…circa 1978. But he’s only on two tracks.

And the lyrics! If you are going to do slow songs, you better put extra effort in the lyrics. That’s what made tracks like “Something About Us” work.:

“It might not be the right time
I might not be the right one
But there's something about us I want to say
Cause there's something between us anyway”

But on ‘Random Access’ we’re treated to this, from “The Game of Love”:

“This is the game of love
And it was you
And it was you
The one that would be breaking my heart
When you decided to walk away
When you decided to walk away”

After the pathetic “Lose Yourself to Dance” Pharrell Williams returns with the single “Get Lucky” which actually has a beat, and uses some of the sound ‘Discovery’ listeners will recall as finding enjoyable about Daft Punk. The album starts to pick up and make up for deficits from the first half. But you’re already eight tracks into a thirteen track album, and it doesn’t last.

I kept waiting for tracks to end, glancing at runtimes, in a hope the next would convey the sound I had bargained for. And then…towards the end it sounds like the back, worse, half of Zappa’s ‘Freak Out!’ for an uncomfortable amount of time before launching into something saccharine to close it out.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

21 Fantasy Countries

The ever-excellent Bathroom Monologues has a current post wherein you have to create 21 fantasy countries, in as many sentences. I was so tickled by the idea I made my own in less than a half hour. These were, therefore, just the first ones I came up with. Given more time they'd probably be far more polished.

1.       I mean, look at the ghosts across the street – the neighborhood really is gentrifying.

2.       The meat stage slowly ended, over a pubescent course of years, whilst the end of the silicon in-between years transmogrified in a single night.

3.       No one can hear, or even experience vibrations, due to the incessant drumming clicks of the local fauna’s mating calls.

4.       These peoples engage in ritual scarification, removing eyes, earlobes, and pinkies, to be replaced with adornments of sentient metal.

5.       Half of the population experience time slow down when taxes are due, and half sped up; however, the accountants are the half that don’t get to relish the season.

6.       We went on thinking the island was uninhabited, enjoying the abundance of springs with fresh water, when crew began one by one to be heard only as disembodied voices.

7.       Without a mask, speech was impossible.

8.       Buy new Zambaquil, for your emotional allergies – relieves weariness, fatigue, and depression.

9.       Books can’t be read by us, but in reading our thoughts fill volumes for their own pleasure.

10.   Self-aware STDs keep breeding the host, but due to high mortality rates with infection, are trying to get the younger generations to practice abstinence.

11.   Everyone’s first hallucination becomes real, but none afterwards.

12.   In an inversion of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the species here requires morality and creativity to survive, and aspire someday to have food and shelter.

13.   No djinn had ever rubbed another’s lamp, and within a generation all of our problems were solved.

14.   Due to an early and advanced understanding of relativity, these people bend spacetime not to travel, but to make pretty doily designs.

15.   With translucent skin, these creatures have no sense of embarrassment, and consequently no understanding of shame or pride.

16.   Your life is experienced as a stream of consciousness by someone else, as you bungle through your own experiences, blinded by mental images of another’s reality.

17.   Two-and-a-half dimensional creatures have disdain for those confined to one plane or space.

18.   If only this house could talk, the stories it would tell would raise the asking price by at least a couple hundred bucks.

19.   Bells constantly ringing, as the winds attempt to make love to their luscious curves.

20.   The worst insult I ever received was a rose on my doorstep, from my garden – I mean, who would willfully slaughter our transcendent ancestors?

21.   A tribe of savages who on outrigger canoes are slowly trying to put the sea to sleep by covering it in an enormous blanket, to the dismay of other coastal peoples.

Carl Spitteler Poems

In 1919, after the Great War, the Nobel Committee awarded the Prize for Literature to Swiss author Carl Spitteler. Spitteler avoided politics, but since Switzerland was part French and part German, had urged his countrymen to avoid going to war on one side or the other. This position likely helped with the Swiss acceptance of  neutrality.

Only a handful of Nobel winners have won for specific works. Hemingway won for 'The Old Man and the Sea', Thomas Mann for 'Buddenbrooks', Knut Hamsun for 'Growth of the Soil', and John Galsworthy for 'The Forsythe Saga'. Besides these there is only Carl Spitteler, who won for his epic poem, 'Olympian Spring'. This work, however, is not available in English.

In fact, only one publication of Spitteler's poems is available in English, 'Selected Poems' translated by Ethel Colburn Mayne and James F. Muirhead. This 250-page volume is the only English work of Spitteler's I know of, published in 1928. I am fairly sure this work has passed into the public domain,  and so want to provide here some of his poems, since there is a complete dearth online.

Of his poems the best selection is his last, the 'Bell Songs' of 1906. I have included what I consider the best of the translated 'Bell Songs' bellow, for the curious reader or student who is having trouble getting their hands on a copy of the nearly century-old translation.

Bell Songs


Bell with tongue of silver tone,
I would make thy secret known -
Cooped with screech-owl, flittermouse,
In the crumbling belfry-house,
Tell m whence thy festal ring -
Who hath taught thee so to sing?

"Long in murky shaft I lay,
Stygian night for all my day;
Here, where mighty winds blow free,
Here, from sunlit spire, I see
Beauty born of human pain -
Now you will not ask again."


The Silver Maids

High in their belfry swinging,
The Silver Maids are singing
Their matin-psalm of praise and cheer;
No angel tones diviner,
The farther off, the finer,
Nor even fails one practiced ear.

Joined are the sister-fingers
And in the blue there lingers
A subtly-colored endless chain,
The primrose clusters wooing,
Its shadow-dance pursuing,
Now up the bank, now down again.

The larks on high are trilling,
The air of April filling,
But these, triumphant, drown the song;
The sun is listening to them,
Echo would fain outdo them,
Tries, and repeats the sound ere long.

The dusty wanderer raises
Eyes that the sunshine dazes,
Smiles, and a moment stands to rest;
But roadside brooks run quicker,
And wavelets flicker, bicker,
Bright in their eager laughing zest.

The tower gives warning. Frightened,
Turning with faces whitened,
They hurry homeward now apace;
Alas! the fairest, fleetest,
Of all the maids the sweetest,
Is far behind, has lost her place.

Finger in mouth she hovers,
Flutters ans fails, recovers -
"I'll catch them up, I must, I will!"
Her dove-wings bravely spreading,
Now for the belfry heading,
She slips inside, and all is still.

So loud the silence - hear it!
The zephyr circles near it,
And lurks awhile the tower beside,
To see if skirts or laces,
Or any sort of traces,
Of Silver Maids may yet be spied.


Another Waking

From the nightmare world of dream
I awakened with a scream.
Chime of bells and song of bird
Deep in budding woods I heard;
Broke the friendly golden day,
Fear and anguish fled away.

Come there will a time for me
When no day shall set me free,
When my only comfort shall
Lie in dreams fantastical,
When from darkling night I fain
Never would be waked again.


Morning Bell

It seemed as though the dawn would never come
To save me from the night's delirium,
Those hells of thought I wandered in - who schooled
My brain at other times, and strictly ruled
Its every motion. Fever now was king;
My spirit groped, a shuddering helpless thing,
Through labyrinths of dream no pause, no rest,
The Furies' prey, disarmed and dispossessed.

Hark! Through the lightless gloom, the black dismay,
A distant bell-note throbs... Deliverance! Day!
Young life, young faith breathes "I." And soft and clear
Whispers the morning-dream of human cheer.


A Vignette

A troop of children scales the ridge, and cries
Challenge to April skies.
     "Come on! No fear!"
     Hats off! This is not play;
They mean to storm high-heaven today.
     It lies so near!
See how, above, it peeps through tall green grasses!

Two silver bell-notes, borne on morning breeze that passes,
     Happy and careless, lightly swinging.
     Come singing, ringing.
"Where lies our pathway now?"
"Above that little crowd of starry faces,
     Over the hill we go
To paths that pearl-white cherry-blossom traces,"
     They say - then sing, then soar
To hill, to cherry-blossoms, and are heard no more.

But what of the child-army under?
Oh, they are all gazing in wonder:
"A hedge-hog!" they say -
Heaven's safe for to-day.


Green Fingers

Green Fingers rides through the wood.

And never a word says she,
But she sets her mark upon every tree.
And soon there's a whisper, a titter,
And out comes Kobolds with a skitter
To dance int he faery-ring,
And high int he branches swing -
Catch the gold
That on branching boughs doth its curls unfold.

Green Fingers rides through the glade.

And through lashes demure she looks
And her soft little finger crooks.
And then come the birds a-winging,
In thousands come fluttering, singing;
On her shoulders, her head, they perch content,
Like a collar, a crown, a hair-ornament -
And her lips are open the song to meet.

Green Fingers rides through the fields.

Her sweet breath slips
Through her finger-tips,
And everything's growing and blowing,
And the earth is with blossoms glowing;
And behind the walls of the city swells
A chorus of bells -
O, the sweet breath of Spring!

Green Fingers rides through the dell.

And a word to her wise little horse she says,
And still as a mouse he stays.
Then out of the dell come creeping
A pair that a tryst were keeping;
But heavy is each fond heart,
For now they must kiss and part -
     They sigh
And "When shall I see you again?" they cry.

Green Fingers rides on the road.

And the blossoms of May she stows
On the pair as her way she goes;
And through all of their grief and rue
Breaks the Song of Songs: "You are true."
And what happiness each has known
Through their love in its beauty shown -
     "Nay, nay!
     Mine for aye!"
"I can never forget you, come what may!"

Green Fingers rides o'er a grave.


A Shout of Joy

Oh what has changed my thought's defiant tread
To wing`ed ride on drifting clouds o'erhead?

Is it my view, unfettered and wide,
     O'er countryside?
Is it the torrent's ringing call,
Tumbling through woods from fall to fall?
Is it the peal of sabbath bells
That clear from peaceful valley swells?
     Ah, nay!
My joy has fairer feet than they.

Because this truth rings clear,
Love shall be always near;
And woman's realm, divine, yet lowly,
Is full of wonders holy;
Because my heart, in thirsting hour,
Has thy love for its princely dower.


The King of Noon and the Lord of Bells

The forest opens wide its spacious leafy gate
And through, on puissant steed, the Noon King rides in state.
At the brave sight the sun slackens his proud career,
The mountains stretch their necks, the massy clouds uprear,
Waving their streaming flags athwart the azure dome.

But, lo, the Lord of Bells, from out his airy home,
Alert his sovereign liege with honor due to greet,
Spreads out a carpet of soft sounds before his feet.
The Midday King rides up the ramparts wov'n of air,
Shading his dazzled eyes from sunlight's blinding glare.
And what his path? The swirling waves of billowy sound.
The throbbing ether waits, in sultry silence bound.

The steeds triumphant neigh, as lord meets noble lord,
And each the other hails, in brotherly accord
Upon the battlements. Then side by side they make their round
Mid wind of banners blown and storm of clangorous sound,
While far below the web of earthly life is spun -
The workaday has now right royally begun!


The Stragglers

"Have all the bell-notes come back to me?"
"All but the notes that stray farthest - three."
"And which are those that return so late?"
"The full-toned, the searching, the delicate."

Over the breast-work, lustrous with noonday light,
     Leant the cathedral sprite,
Good-humored and warm with sun.
And first came the delicate one.
     "You're late - why so?
Twelve o'clock struck eight minutes ago.
     And your radiant air!
You have little leaves in your hair!"

(The Delicate Note)

"Slim was I born,
I can creep through hawthorn.
As through hawthorn crept I,
A blackbird chanced on my head to fly,
And a sunbeam glanced through my leg - so we
Were blithesome fellow-travelers three.
The blackbird kept singing, and I kept singing,
And the sunbeam from one to the other kept springing."

     "O bravely done!"
And now comes the searching one.
     "You're late - why so?
Twelve o'clock struck nine minutes ago.
     And your radiant air!
You've a little rose in your hair!"

(The Searching Note)

     "Completely I lost my way
     In faery-wood to-day;
     Heard the lilt of a brook,
     So to find it must look.
And a girl was playing,
Of beauty beyond all saying.
From above looked the heaven of blue,
So I thought I would watch her too."

 "O bravely done!"
And now comes the full-toned one.
     "You're late - why so?
Twelve o'clock struck ten minutes ago.
     And your radiant air!
You've a little crown in your hair!"

(The Full-Toned Note)

"Of the boundless ether drinking,
I came on a man who was thinking.
I wondered of what it could be,
And followed unseen to see.
He entered a house, and there
Glad welcome rent the air.
I wanted to see glad wind-pipes thrill,
So lingered awhile at the window-sill."

 "O bravely done!"
Tomorrow's day is another one.
Go now with your radiance gleaming
To color the bell's deep dreaming -
     No hue is too bright;
Paint all your delight!
For good-will and glad heart
     Are the marrow of art."


The Blue-Green Secret


The Treacherous Tower


When was it we lay in the cool green grass?
     "Oh, long ago."
You said you would think about being my lass?
     "Mayhap it was so."


What flower did you have in your lips of rose?
And what did you look like, do you suppose?
     "A garden-plot."


I asked "How on earth shall I surely know
     The flower from weed?"
As you looked at me slyly, you murmured low
     "Yes, how indeed?"


We stayed content in our sunny nook,
     Hour after hour,
Till over the hill did maliciously look
     A prim church-tower.


"All right, Old Boy! You may listen and spy
     Till kingdom come!
And count every kiss. Not a jot care I!
     For why? You're dumb.


"The hands on your dial can only tell
     The time of day.
No stroke of the thing you call your bell
     Could give us away."


And as the light-hearted don't care a pin
     For airs and graces,
At the tower forthwith we began to grin
     And make grimaces.


And then, for a change, we were very polite
     With curtsy and bow.
If anyone says that was far from right,
      We can't see how.


Full of blue magic, we left at last
     That heaven of green,
Pursued by the tower and its bells, aghast
     At what they'd seen.


"Arson's afoot! Forest-guards hurry here!
     Quite proof against shame,
Two lovers have set, afar and anear,
     The forest aflame!"


"So shocking a tryst in the fields I saw,
     It gave me a turn.
The song I heard was against all law -
     It made my cheeks burn."


"May lightning strike you, you cowardly sneak!
     That's only your due
The stuff about churchyard rest that you speak
     Is smugly untrue!"


But now that the world and his wife know what
     And how it befell,
We'll stick to each other the closer for that.
      All's well that ends well!



On the upland, high above the village,
Under the hazel-branches lay the goatherd,
Crossed his hands behind his neck for pillow,
Pulled his straw-hat farther down for sunshade.
But the straw-hat could not stop the golden
Trickle of the sunbeams through its meshes.

To himself the poor boy murmured sadly:
"Oh, to catch that glitter in my fingers,
Tie it in my handkerchief and hasten
Down into the village to the goldsmith!
He would surely pay a thousand dollars -
Then I'd buy a pair of spurs, a pony,
Ride him to the manse, and knock so loudly
(Using my new whip) that Fraulein Anna
Eagerly would run to find her mother,
Say: 'Dear mother, hurry to the cellar,
Bring a flask of ruby wine, the finest,
Set a fowl to roast within the oven;
For a stranger soldierly and haughty
Has arrived - He must have come to woo me.'

Ah but not the bottle, not the chicken,
Would I touch, however fine and tender;
Nothing but herself, but Fraulein Anna!
Her I'd set upon the pony, clasping
Both my arms around her, and would gallop
All along the street, along the village,
Up the hill, and stop at Friedli's hostel -
Then we would be married in the autumn."

Thus the poor boy communed with his fancies;
Then remembered all, and sighing deeply
Thought: "The fool you are with your fool-stories!
You will live and you will die a goatherd,
Penniless and barefoot and a no-one.
Anna would not look at you an instant."

Hark - the goats were bleating, at their tethers
Dragging, and in circles wildly leaping;
And in single file along the footpath
Came two fine young ladies from the city.
And the first one, calling to the second,
Cried: "We are in luck! You see the boy there
Stretched beneath the hazel-bough? His forehead's
All a mass of curls, his mouth is rosy,
Rosy too his cheeks, and soft for kissing!"
Saying so, she ran across the meadow,
Stooped above the boy, while her companion
Curtain-wise her petticoats extended.
Then on the mouth and cheeks the first one kissed him -
Ten or twelve times kissed the startled youngster.

After that they altered their arrangements;
While the first assumed the part of curtain,
 She who came the second took her kisses.
Then they threw their arms round one another,
Danced into the wood, and singing vanished.

But the boy lay still among the grasses,
Qualms of conscience, pangs of shame, upon him:
"Curse thee for a faithless wanton fellow,
Faithless to thy loved, thy peerless lady!
On thee have the lips of strangers feasted,
Sinner! and theyself hast likewise feasted!
Never now of gracious Fraulein Anna
Canst thou front the pure angelic beauty -
As the burrowing mole before the sunlight,
Thou shalt flinch before that face from heaven."

But when the evening bells began to tinkle
And the boy, despairing, broken-hearted,
Homeward slunk, his goats behind him dragging,
Lo! upon the path appeared the pastor,
Then the pastor's wife, and then - confound it! -
Last of all herself, his Fraulein Anna.
Wonders never cease, though - for the pastor
Took him by the chin, and asked him kindly
"How's the weather? And the Paternosters?"
And the pastor's lady stroked his lovelocks,
And his Fraulein Anna very sweetly
Looked behind, and whispered to her mother:
"Hasn't he grown manly and good-looking!"


The Modest Little Wish

In the days when I was little
   had they asked me what I wanted,
What I'd wish for first if wishes
   ever could be really granted,
As the thought of such abundance
   I should long have hesitated,
Picture-books, paint-boxes, soldiers -
   between these have vacillated.
But grown older, plans were bolder;
   I had made my proud election
- Fame as hero, fame as victor,
   worlds o'erthrown for resurrection;
Or as a artist crowned with laurel,
   lord of some domain entrancing,
Magic trees around me blossoming,
   and lovely ladies glancing.
Nowadays, if hope grown weary
   in the wishing-game persisted,
Though I blushed to think the childish,
   foolish longing still existed,
I would ask to hear the old way
   bells would sound when lying lonely
Half-asleep, a little fellow. . .
   I would ask to hear that only.


The Beggar

He was my foe, and friend he was to none.
I read his death, unmoved, but yesterday.
And then, last night, I saw him in a dream
Who wandered o'er a waste of barren moor
Alone, and there a beggar's bowl he rattled,
And came to me and spoke, while the bowl rattled -
     "A homeless waif and stray, a poor dead man
     Who now can do no harm to any man,
     Was looking for you, that old debt to pay -
     Drop a kind thought, Sir, in my bowl, I pray."