art Poetry Thoughts on writing Uncategorized Writing by others Writing tips

The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll

The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll

The only poem Lewis Carrol published that had an unhappy ending. Make no mistake, this is a happy and sometime joyous poems that revels in the English language.

Some say this is the most extended example of nonsense poetry in the language.

Lewis Carroll, though, was a professor of higher mathematics and some of this poetry and much of Alice hides behind little understood ideas. As he put it, “Arithmetical principles, cautiously inculcated.”

There’s a saying in quantum mechanics that anything not prohibited is required. Lewis Carroll would have liked that.

Full text (external link) and illustrations are everywhere on the net and in hardcopy at your local bookseller or online. Carroll’s explanatory remarks are at the bottom of this page.


an Agony in Eight Fits
Lewis Carroll


Fit the First

“Just the place for a Snark!” the Bellman cried,
As he landed his crew with care;
Supporting each man on the top of the tide
By a finger entwined in his hair.

“Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true.”

The crew was complete: it included a Boots—
A maker of Bonnets and Hoods—
A Barrister, brought to arrange their disputes—
And a Broker, to value their goods.

A Billiard-marker, whose skill was immense,
Might perhaps have won more than his share—
But a Banker, engaged at enormous expense,
Had the whole of their cash in his care.

There was also a Beaver, that paced on the deck,
Or would sit making lace in the bow:
And had often (the Bellman said) saved them from wreck,
Though none of the sailors knew how.

There was one who was famed for the number of things
He forgot when he entered the ship:
His umbrella, his watch, all his jewels and rings,
And the clothes he had bought for the trip.

He had forty-two boxes, all carefully packed,
With his name painted clearly on each:
But, since he omitted to mention the fact,
They were all left behind on the beach.

The loss of his clothes hardly mattered, because
He had seven coats on when he came,
With three pairs of boots—but the worst of it was,
He had wholly forgotten his name.

He would answer to “Hi!” or to any loud cry,
Such as “Fry me!” or “Fritter my wig!”
To “What-you-may-call-um!” or “What-was-his-name!”
But especially “Thing-um-a-jig!”

While, for those who preferred a more forcible word,
He had different names from these:
His intimate friends called him “Candle-ends,”
And his enemies “Toasted-cheese.”

“His form is ungainly—his intellect small—”
(So the Bellman would often remark)
“But his courage is perfect! And that, after all,
Is the thing that one needs with a Snark.”

He would joke with hyenas, returning their stare
With an impudent wag of the head:
And he once went a walk, paw-in-paw, with a bear,
“Just to keep up its spirits,” he said.

He came as a Baker: but owned, when too late—
And it drove the poor Bellman half-mad—
He could only bake Bridecake—for which, I may state,
No materials were to be had.

The last of the crew needs especial remark,
Though he looked an incredible dunce:
He had just one idea—but, that one being “Snark,”
The good Bellman engaged him at once.

He came as a Butcher: but gravely declared,
When the ship had been sailing a week,
He could only kill Beavers. The Bellman looked scared,
And was almost too frightened to speak:

But at length he explained, in a tremulous tone,
There was only one Beaver on board;
And that was a tame one he had of his own,
Whose death would be deeply deplored.

The Beaver, who happened to hear the remark,
Protested, with tears in its eyes,
That not even the rapture of hunting the Snark
Could atone for that dismal surprise!

It strongly advised that the Butcher should be
Conveyed in a separate ship:
But the Bellman declared that would never agree
With the plans he had made for the trip:

Navigation was always a difficult art,
Though with only one ship and one bell:
And he feared he must really decline, for his part,
Undertaking another as well.

The Beaver’s best course was, no doubt, to procure
A second-hand dagger-proof coat—
So the Baker advised it—and next, to insure
Its life in some Office of note:

This the Banker suggested, and offered for hire
(On moderate terms), or for sale,
Two excellent Policies, one Against Fire,
And one Against Damage From Hail.

Yet still, ever after that sorrowful day,
Whenever the Butcher was by,
The Beaver kept looking the opposite way,
And appeared unaccountably shy.

Text of poem continues ——> (external link)


If—and the thing is wildly possible—the charge of writing nonsense were ever brought against the author of this brief but instructive poem, it would be based, I feel convinced, on the line (in p.4)

“Then the bowsprit got mixed with the rudder sometimes.” (more here — internal link)

In view of this painful possibility, I will not (as I might) appeal indignantly to my other writings as a proof that I am incapable of such a deed: I will not (as I might) point to the strong moral purpose of this poem itself, to the arithmetical principles so cautiously inculcated in it, or to its noble teachings in Natural History—I will take the more prosaic course of simply explaining how it happened.

The Bellman, who was almost morbidly sensitive about appearances, used to have the bowsprit unshipped once or twice a week to be revarnished, and it more than once happened, when the time came for replacing it, that no one on board could remember which end of the ship it belonged to. They knew it was not of the slightest use to appeal to the Bellman about it—he would only refer to his Naval Code, and read out in pathetic tones Admiralty Instructions which none of them had ever been able to understand—so it generally ended in its being fastened on, anyhow, across the rudder. The helmsman used to stand by with tears in his eyes; he knew it was all wrong, but alas! Rule 42 of the Code, “No one shall speak to the Man at the Helm,” had been completed by the Bellman himself with the words “and the Man at the Helm shall speak to no one.” So remonstrance was impossible, and no steering could be done till the next varnishing day. During these bewildering intervals the ship usually sailed backwards.

As this poem is to some extent connected with the lay of the Jabberwock, let me take this opportunity of answering a question that has often been asked me, how to pronounce “slithy toves.” The “i” in “slithy” is long, as in “writhe”; and “toves” is pronounced so as to rhyme with “groves.” Again, the first “o” in “borogoves” is pronounced like the “o” in “borrow.” I have heard people try to give it the sound of the “o” in “worry”. Such is Human Perversity.

This also seems a fitting occasion to notice the other hard words in that poem. Humpty-Dumpty’s theory, of two meanings packed into one word like a portmanteau, seems to me the right explanation for all.

For instance, take the two words “fuming” and “furious.” Make up your mind that you will say both words, but leave it unsettled which you will first. Now open your mouth and speak. If your thoughts incline ever so little towards “fuming,” you will say “fuming-furious;” if they turn, by even a hair’s breadth, towards “furious,” you will say “furious-fuming;” but if you have the rarest of gifts, a perfectly balanced mind, you will say “frumious.”

Supposing that, when Pistol uttered the well-known words—
“Under which king, Bezonian? Speak or die!”

Justice Shallow had felt certain that it was either William or Richard, but had not been able to settle which, so that he could not possibly say either name before the other, can it be doubted that, rather than die, he would have gasped out “Rilchiam!”
Follow me on Instagram: tgfarley


editing writing non-fiction writing Stanton Delaplane Thoughts on writing Uncategorized Writing by others Writing tips

The Pulitzer Prize And The State of Jefferson

Winning the Pulitzer was traditionally a career making event for a newspaper reporter. And a real point of pride for the newspaper that employed the writer.

It used to be simple, you won the Pulitzer. There were four original awards in journalism: reporting, public service, editorial writing, and a once granted award for the best newspaper history writing.

As with so many prestigious awards, however, and in keeping with Joseph Pulitzer’s will and wishes, the categories were broadened, diluted, and made great in number.

It’s the same way with the Oscars. Everyone in the film trade must now get an Oscar or be eligible for one.

The 1941 film Citizen Kane deftly showed the tumultuous era of big city newspapers. Back when a Pulitzer Prize truly meant something to a beat reporter. There was just one category for them: reporting.

In 1941 Stanton Delaplane (internal link) won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the nascent State of Jefferson, a political movement and a state of mind that continues to be in the news to this day. (external link)

As in Citizen Kane, with the character Charles Foster Kane often making up a story to make up the news, Delaplane played a major role in creating the story of The State of Jefferson.

In late 1941, Delaplane was assigned by the San Francisco Chronicle to visit far northern California and southern Oregon. Word was that a group of rebel counties were planning to secede from California and Oregon to form the State of Jefferson. The chief proponent, Mayor Gilbert Gable of Port Orford, a former high-powered advertising man, was itching to stir the pot of separatism. And Delaplane was eager to help.

Delaplane filed stories of road blockades being set up, complete with photographs showing men with rifles handing out Jefferson State leaflets and proclamations. But some photos were staged. Delaplane’s fiancé Miriam Moore posed in two photographs as a San Francisco tourist, resplendent in her full length fur coat, with nary a mention of her relation to Delaplane.

Gilbert and Delaplane brainstormed ideas for stories, at least one session fueled by heavy drinking. Gilbert and his cronies stood to land governing jobs in this new state. Acting on these conversations and the true anger he found in ordinary citizens, Delaplane quickly spun a number of articles in the best tradition of Mark Twain or Hunter S. Thompson. The least factual story and yet the most accurate. And for that, he bagged the Pulitzer.

Where can you read those articles? You can’t. Not online. Not yet. The Chronicle hasn’t digitized much of their content from the late 1920s through the 1960s. The original newspapers have so deteriorated with age that it makes OCR work nearly impossible. When I looked into the Delaplane archives kept at the California State Library in Sacramento, it seemed that it would be faster to retype the articles than scan them and then correct the results.

Never-the-less, I did manage to make good three of his articles but I’d need to go back to the Library to complete the task. If any serious researcher wants to see what I’ve found, let me know. As the State of Jefferson continues to be in the news, I think it’s important to get its founding correct. Who knows? Maybe you’ll win a Pulitzer Prize.

Reporting (1917-1947)

Local Reporting – Edition time (1953-1963)
Local General or Spot News Reporting (1964-1984)
General News Reporting (1985-1990)
Spot News Reporting (1991-1997)
Local Reporting – No edition time (1953-1963)
Local Investigative Specialized Reporting (1964-1984)
Explanatory Journalism (1985-1997)
Specialized Reporting (1985-1990)
Beat Reporting (1991-2006)
Correspondence (1929-1947)
Telegraphic Reporting – National (1942-1947)
Telegraphic Reporting – International (1942-1947)
Criticism or Commentary (1970-1972)
Photography (1942-1967)
Spot News Photography (1968-1999)
Newspaper History Award (1918)

Current Categories

Public Service (1917-present)
Breaking News Reporting (1998-present)
Investigative Reporting (1985-present)
Explanatory Reporting (1998-present)
Local Reporting (1948-1952, 2007-present)
National Reporting (1948-present)
International Reporting (1948-present)
Feature Writing (1979-present)
Commentary (1973-present)
Criticism (1973-present)
Editorial Writing (1917-present)
Editorial Cartooning (1922-present)
Breaking News Photography (2000-present)
Feature Photography (1968-present)
Follow me on Instagram: tgfarley

non-fiction writing revising writing Thoughts on writing Uncategorized Writing by others Writing tips

Deeper Into SEO

Search engine optimization means producing high ranking web pages. Quality content isn’t enough, that content must employ a variety of techniques to get your client’s website on the first or second page of Google’s search results. A company might produce the best hiking poles in the business but so what? What good is that if the client can’t be found online?

SEO is a dark art. Google keeps the methods behind its algorithms hidden. Optimizing for Google, therefore, relies on endless speculating, experimenting, and poring over site statistics. Your client’s stats, the stats of their competitors. Google doesn’t want anyone to game or manipulate their system. Despite the sponsored ads and links that Google often presents first, they still want search results to have integrity.

If someone had a sure-fire way of getting a client’s pages always ranked above their competitors, faith in search would be lost. You would have nothing but manipulated results. At least with ads, you know they are ads. And most of us usually skip to the listings below the ads. Which gets us back to producing pages to best attract the search engines.

If you’re producing a personal website like this one you probably don’t care about designing pages with SEO in mind. I don’t. If you are a working writer, however, you need to get familiar with SEO and what it means. You’re not writing for yourself anymore, you are writing for a client. And that client’s great message or great content is invisible if it is on page 12 of a search result. Although this is a speculative number, it could be that 97% of traffic from search comes from the first page of Google’s search results.

That’s why I was disappointed by the Berkeley Extension course I signed up for and then immediately dropped. They offered this hopeful paragraph before the course started but things fell apart when the course was outlined on the first day of class. Here’s how the course was presented:

Writing for Social Media: Prose That Works for Web 2.0

“Learn to write effectively for social media, specifically blogs, Twitter and Facebook. Establish a coherent writing process; learn editing techniques; and examine the interplay among context, content and style. Classes focus primarily on workshop critiques, peer editing and weekly composition of posts and tweets. Note: This course focuses primarily on content writing and editing, not Web technology.”

The instructor revealed on the first day that he was focused on helping people write better, something any English 101 class could do. He was silent on SEO at first and then admitted he wouldn’t be addressing it. Nonsense. He described writing effectively for social media. That can only be done with SEO in mind when you are in business or writing for someone else. Again, quality content is not enough, there’s plenty of original writing and wonderful photographs and terrific videos on the web. Too much. Way too much. You could be Hemingway or Twain and it doesn’t matter. Not for the web.

To cut through the noise you have to write for algorithms and bots as well as your human bosses, clients, and the end reader. Quality content is good but, again, not just by itself. Some parts of a post must catch Google’s attention. There are ways to do this. Keywords are still important, external links aren’t anymore, and other methods are catching on. Any technique needs constant testing and analysis and even the analytical tools needed to do this are complicated and often contradictory.

Take using, for example, an expensive reporting service that throws a fire hose of information at you. Some of its data is good, some not so much. People can completely disagree on what ahrefs means and any value it might assign a web page. Same with Google Analytics, you need to be at least a low-level rocket scientist to interpret its results. When reading about SEO, limit your search results to no more than a month ago. This field gets dated. In a hurry.

If you are interested in SEO then I would recommend trade conferences and not anything associated with academia. You need to meet people working in the field to know the field. My partial involvement in SEO does not require me to attend seminars but I am aware of its importance and I try to keep up on it. Besides the way we write, our team adds other tricks to the way a page is coded or designed internally. This is a big and complex field but I am writing and editing pages with SEO strongly in mind. You should be, too.


Some of my writing related to this page (all internal links)

More on Writing for Machines (More on business writing for bots and algorithms)

Do I Need to Repeat Myself? (Business writing must incorporate SEO techniques)

Deeper into SEO (A Berkeley Writing for Social Media course fails) YOU ARE HERE

Who/m are We Writing For? (The end reader today may not be human)

What Content Authority Means in SEO and Why it is Important (A discussion of content authority fundamentals)

Uncategorized Writing by others

We Can Be Heroes

What a set of pipes! David Bowie killing it in Berlin in 2002. At age 55.

The different versions of this performance total over 118 million views.


by David Bowie

I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can beat them, just for one day
We can be Heroes, just for one day

And you, you can be mean
And I, I’ll drink all the time
‘Cause we’re lovers, and that is a fact
Yes we’re lovers, and that is that
Though nothing will keep us together
We could steal time, just for one day
We can be Heroes, for ever and ever
What d’you say?

I, I wish you could swim
Like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim
Though nothing, nothing will keep us together
We can beat them, for ever and ever
Oh we can be Heroes, just for one day

I, I will be king
And you, you will be queen
Though nothing will drive them away
We can be Heroes, just for one day
We can be us, just for one day

I, I can remember (I remember)
Standing by the wall (by the wall)
And the guns shot above our heads (over our heads)
And we kissed, as though nothing could fall (nothing could fall)
And the shame was on the other side
Oh we can beat them, for ever and ever
Then we could be Heroes, just for one day

We can be Heroes
We can be Heroes
We can be Heroes
Just for one day
We can be Heroes

We’re nothing, and nothing will help us
Maybe we’re lying, then you better not stay
But we could be safer, just for one day

Oh-oh-oh-ohh, oh-oh-oh-ohh
Just for one day
Follow me on Instagram: tgfarley

books Magazine article non-fiction writing organizing writing Thoughts on writing Uncategorized Writing by others

American Heritage is Alive Online and Ongoing

More great history from American Heritage, a lay publication written for decades by famous, notable historians. I never got into this title but I did have three articles published in their sister magazine, Invention & Technology. Which is still going, too, in fact, I think they have some of my articles archived (external link) although without the original illustrations and photographs.

This is from Edwin Grosvenor, a fine fellow who has tirelessly led the fight to keep AH going. I worked with him and his team on my articles and he is a good egg.

February 22, 2020

Here’s another batch of essays we’ve just added to our 70th Anniversary issue, in which we are asking 25 leading historians to answer the question, “What made America great?”

Please share this special issue with friends, on Facebook or other media. We need your help to let people know that American Heritage, an important intellectual legacy for our nation, is active and growing again!.

John Marshall Saves the Republic, by Harlow Giles Unger
Our greatest Chief Justice defined the Constitution and ensured that the rule of law prevailed at a time of Presidential overreach and bitter political factionalism.

Harriett Beecher Stowe and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by David S. Reynolds
Her novel helped to end slavery and proved that Lincoln was right when he said, “Whoever can change public opinion can change the government.”

The Woman Who Said “No” To McCarthy, by Bruce Watson
Republican Sen. Margaret Chase Smith was the first in Congress to stand up to the bullying of Joe McCarthy.

Ride Sally Ride, by Rachel Swaby
The first American woman in space inspired thousands of girls to dream of a career in science.

Venture Capital Builds Our Modern World, by Tom Nicholas
The American method of high-risk, potentially high-reward investments has fueled innovation from New England whaling ventures to Silicon Valley start-ups such as Apple, Intel, Cisco, and Google.

If you have comments or a Letter to the Editor, please email me.


Edwin S. Grosvenor, President and Editor
American Heritage Publishing
Follow me on Instagram: tgfarley

Poetry Thoughts on writing Uncategorized Writing by others

The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot

The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot

The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot

Mistah Kurtz—he dead.

A penny for the Old Guy

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death’s dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
No nearer—

Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
Waking alone
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.

The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

Sightless, unless
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Multifoliate rose
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
Follow me on Instagram: tgfarley


The IRS Can’t Keep Up With the New Workforce

I’m an independent contractor who receives a small amount of income from Canada. This year, about three thousand dollars. The IRS doesn’t know how to deal with this and no online tax service can process my taxes. This same situation undoubtedly faces tens of thousand of Americans in the new economy, especially those in the gig workforce.

The problem is that I am an independent contractor who receives no form or statement of income from my boss. He’s under no obligation to do so and there appears to be no Canadian form for him to fill out in the first place. He also has contract workers in the Philippines for different lengths of time which would mean he’d probably need something country specific, a form tailored for every government a contract worker might be living under. Not realistic. I’ve had this problem before.

In 2007 and 2008 I sold magazine articles to publishers in Norway, Germany and Japan. One article sold for over $2,000. Never got a tax form from any of these companies and I don’t recall how I reported this income to the IRS. But I must have as I have never been contacted by the IRS over this.

Returning to the present and backing up, here’s an explanation of an independent contractor:

“An independent contractor is someone who is working for someone else and who provides services, but who is not an employee. An independent contractor is typically a creative professional or technical person, like a designer, web expert, or IT professional. The independent contractor receives a 1099-MISC form at the end of the year, instead of a W-2, showing total income received from companies for whom the contractor has worked.” 

I have no form from my foreign employer. And I am not subject to self-employment tax as the money I get has no relation to help fund the social security system of the United States. And my Canadian employer does not contribute taxes to that system, either. Instead, I always pay taxes based on my overall income. Self-employment tax, by the way, would require an American employer to send the right form but again, I have no form and no American employer.

Another option would be to declare myself a sole proprietorship which is not what an independent contractor is:

“A sole proprietor is the default business type, for income tax purposes. If you start a business, count business expenses and income separately from personal expenses and income, and you do nothing to register your business with your state, you’re a sole proprietor.”

The IRS has a section for reporting income if one is an employee for a foreign business but I am not that, I am on no payroll, I am a contract worker.

This reminds me greatly of when I was in the California Conservation Corps. Two of us were fired without any kind of due process, even though we were working as employees for the state. Had our checks issued by the State. The California State Employees Association originally expressed interest in helping us out. Their legal team, however, eventually decided that despite how our checks were signed, we were neither independent contractors nor civil service state employees. They stepped away from helping and we engaged a poverty law firm.

The result? A seven year lawsuit against the state which my friend and I eventually won. The question of employee status, though, was never addressed when the appeals court finally awarded us damages. Gray areas exist throughout the law and are sometimes never settled.

How have I handled this in years past? I gave up on online filing services and instead would mail the IRS a 1040 that was partially filled in. I included a printout of my invoices to make sure I disclosed all of my income. Then I wrote a little note apologizing for not correctly filling out the form and should they need any more money than what I sent, or if they had questions, send me a letter.

They have not protested this method so far, although I am sure they are not overjoyed with completing a taxpayer’s form themselves. I usually get a small refund each year. I tried again just now to file online, hoping that perhaps the IRS and online preparers had caught up with the rest of us global-wide workers. They haven’t.

Back to snail mail, an incomplete form, my paper invoice copies, and a handwritten note. I have always tried to do the right thing and tonight I made a tremendous effort in time and frustration in trying to file online. But nothing works since the categories that exist don’t relate to my situation. Online support can’t help. Total waste of time and a bad signal to all of us in the new workforce.
Follow me on Instagram: tgfarley

art Photography Uncategorized

A Different Look at Time

Isn’t this amazing? This is a Ressence watch, their TYPE 1² Squared.(external link)

The indicators or complications are disks that revolve and are always in motion, just as the hands of a conventional watch are always revolving. The orange tinged indicator is the power reserve dial, showing how much time this mechanical watch has left before winding down.

This watch is in the $20,000 range, never-the-less, we can always enjoy amazing industrial design simply by looking at it.

This is a speeded up look at the watch, in real-time videos the watch is far less playful. Still, I get the idea and I like it. Ressence makes other fascinating models.

This might be what an alien or a supercomputer might produce, when tasked to design a timepiece without giving it any images of existing watches.
Follow me on Instagram: tgfarley

art Poetry Uncategorized video Writing by others



Miranda Hale delivers a slower and better paced reading than most video tellings. She reads with a smile in her voice for the first minutes but then settles down.

The epigraph recalls Dante’s travel through the Underworld. Seeing that Dante could mount the steps out of the pit of Hell, a condemned wretch cries, “By that virtue which leads you to the top of the stairs, think of me in my time of pain.”

The third line of the first verse of the actual poem should shock and be repeatedly read over and over until the imagery sinks in.

I do my own reading at the bottom of this page, it got me far more emotional than I could have guessed.

Do I dare
Disturb the universe?

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

by. T.S. Eliot

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair–
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin–
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?
And I have known the eyes already, known them all–
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all–
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

* * * *

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? …

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

* * * *

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet–and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”–
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the
And this, and so much more?–
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”

* * * *

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous–
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

From Project Gutenberg (external link)

More Eliot here (internal link)

My reading — kind of intense
Follow me on Instagram: tgfarley

books non-fiction writing Photography Uncategorized

Beyond Books

Something from my rockhounding site, (external link) Click twice to blow up the photo.

It was recently recommended on FB that I read some field guides to rock and mineral ID. This was in response to some specific observations I made with material I had collected and with reference specimens I had bought. The suggester offered no further advice or any response to my observations which he didn’t read through. At least five people gave him a thumbs up. That’s extremely discouraging when all I was trying to do was help.

Well, I have a few books. Quite a lot, actually. But you have to go beyond books to learn more. You can’t teach a geology course without lab work or field trips. Books are fine but rocks and minerals and prospecting are also hands on.

This is a look at part of my reference collection of over two hundred rock types and various minerals. They are mostly hand or teaching specimen size. All labeled in detail. At any time I can pull something out to test or experiment it using my hardness picks, my acid, my metal detectors, my UV lamps, my black and white streak plates, my super magnet, my microscope, or my geiger counters. No, I don’t have anything to test specific gravity. Working on that. If I can’t identify something complex, which is too often, I send it on for lab results. I’m not a know it all, I am trying to be a know it all.
Follow me on Instagram: tgfarley