Sunday, April 30

Fellow farmers

Yesterday's post was about a difference (or similarity) between humans and animals. Now, I believe humans are animals. However, this is a personal belief and I have no problem with people who have different beliefs on the matter. On the contrary, everybody is entitled to their own opinion. But I think it is interesting how some characteristics are believed to be typical for humans - while they are not. Take agriculture. I have always accepted agriculture to be a distinctive human activity. But it turns out that my beliefs were unfounded.

Atta sexdens, a species of leafcutter ant. Their societies are among the most complex found in social insects. In dutch, they are called parasolmieren ('parasol-ants') because they carry pieces of leaf above their heads, as if they seek shelter from the sun. But the leafs neither act as shelter nor food. They cut leaves to provide a substrate for their fungus farms, which are their principal source of food. According to Wikipedia;

Leaves and other soft plant material brought into the nest by the foragers is chewed into a pulp and fertilized with faeces. A small piece of fungus is placed on this substrate. The gardener-nurse caste takes care of the cultivation, transplanting fungus onto fresh substrate and weeding out wrong species of fungus which sometimes can contaminate nests. They also use secretions from their salivary glands and help from antibiotic-producing Streptomyces bacteria to keep their fungal gardens a strict monoculture. The gardener-nurses also cut pieces of mycelium for the other castes to eat.

What a sophisticated symbiotic relationship - reminding us of our own agriculture in so many ways. Being wrong doesn't have to be bad.

Saturday, April 29

To believe in love

I do not permit myself to believe in many things. Let's say it is against my religion. But I must admit I believe in a couple of things, such as science and evolution. I also believe - and this might be a little less obvious - that humans are not the only ones capable of experiencing emotions. Not because I have a profound relationship with my cats (but perhaps I do) or because I want to save the rainforest et cetera (well, I would like to save...) but because I feel it is only logical to believe this from the evolutionary point of view. Emotions did not emerge suddenly when our brains got large enough. It is more likely that all mammals are able to experience 'primitive' versions of emotions. Note; not just primal emotions.

Yes, I do believe my cats are able to experience a primitive sense of love for me. Now, don't laugh. The thing is, love is not some heavenly emotion, it has practical applications. That's why it has evolved in the first place. Feelings of affection are essential in nature - to keep a mother and her siblings together, for instance. My cats experience affection for me because I feed them and take care for them. It is a fact that modern-day cats don’t really reach mental maturity anymore. There is no need for them to become independent. I'm their surrogate mother. They 'loved' their real mother too - because they needed her. Of course, love (as we experience it) seems like much more than nature's way to keep dependent individuals together. What can I say to that? Only that I believe it takes more persuasive power to influence a sophisticated brain.


About the image: Adam and Eve. Perhaps the roots of love lie in Eden, I cannot say. I do believe that mistakes are human.

Friday, April 28

Waterhouse: Hylas and the Nymphs

John William Waterhouse (6 April 1849 – 10 February 1917) was a British painter, best known for his paintings of female characters from mythology and literature. I have a copy of one of his paintings hanging above my bed; Hylas and the Nymphs. I notice more details every time I look at it. The faces of the nymphs are beautifully painted, expressing seductiveness as well as innocence. I will post more work of Waterhouse soon and give some background information. The story behind a painting makes it much more significant and interesting, I reckon.

Hylas and the Nymphs (1896) According to Greek mythology, nymphs lived in every body of water. Actually, they were the water itself. The nymphs on this painting belong to the springs of the river Askanios which was located somewhere in Turkey. Hylas was a young companion of Herakles, and was said do be quite hansome. He was sent to fetch water from the springs. He cleared a path through the cane and peat, and leaned forward to fill the water jar. But then nymphs appeared from the water (they quite fancied him), taking his hands, seducing him and pulling him into the dark, black water. He was like a glowing star, falling from the heavens into the sea. Meanwhile, his mates were preparing to leave. One man went looking for Hylas and called out his name. The boy answered three times, but it sounded as if he were far away, his voice emerging softly from the water. The nymphs tried to comfort him, as he was crying. More men went looking for him. He was never found.

Wednesday, April 26

A scammer's universe

Due to some spam comments on the Silence blog, only registered users of Blogger will be able to comment from now on. I do not like to be annoyed by these kind of things. That's why I am not. Actually, it puzzles me that sending spam is something you can do for a living. It is profitable, apparently. Who are those mysterious people, sending us spam every day? And who are the people that are fooled by their scams?

I can imagine people falling for 'SuperMeds' et cetera. If you have been living in a cave. And the first thing you do after spending a decade in this drafty, cold environment is to... check your email? Excuse me, that's not a very nice thing of me to say. Anyway, somebody might make the mistake of buying meds online. But to give confidential information to a Nigerian bloke that you have never met before...? A few years ago I responded to one of those Nigerian emails and it is astonishing how easy it was to fool this particular scammer. There is a dutch proverb describing it perfectly, but I can't find a translation of it... iemand aan het lijntje houden: To promise someone you will help him, but in the meantime only make excuses.

So, how can this 'job' be lucrative? It reminds me of the Drake Equation, a way to estimate the number of technologically advanced civilizations that might exist in our Galaxy:

N = R* fp ne fl fi fc L
N = The number of communicative civilizations
R* = The rate of formation of suitable stars (stars such as our Sun)
fp = The fraction of those stars with planets. (current evidence indicates that planetary systems may be common for stars like the Sun.)
ne = The number of Earth-like worlds per planetary system
fl = The fraction of those Earth-like planets where life actually develops
fi = The fraction of life sites where intelligence develops
fc = The fraction of communicative planets (those on which electromagnetic communications technology develops)
L = The "lifetime" of communicating civilizations


Let us assume that all these factors are quite small - in fact, they probably are. Say, only 1 suitable star per year forms, which has a 10% chance of having planets. Only 1 planet per 2 stars is capable of sustaining life, and in 10% of all cases life develops. 30% of life on all planets evolves to be intelligent enough to produce interstellar communication - which they do 30% of the time (some aliens just don't care about other intelligent life, you know). Being reasonably intelligent creatures, they should be able to survive a good 6.000 years. The chances of a technologically advanced civilization developing according to these statistics is very small. Just like the chances of a Nigerian scammer finding a victim. But according to the Drake Equation there are 3 civilisations in outer space waiting for a call from earth, right now. Chances are small, but the universe sure is big.

What are the odds? Find out here.

Tuesday, April 25

The genetic relay race

Before the final exams, every (dutch) pupil has to work on a project with one or several classmates. One has to write a so called profielwerkstuk, a paper on ‘the human heart’, ‘history of Russia’, ‘probability calculations on games of chance’ or any other subject you can possibly think of, provided that there is there is a reasonable amount of information to discuss. With two classmates I wrote my profielwerkstuk on gene therapy, which is the insertion of genes into an individual's cells and tissues to treat a disease.

In the current affairs program Netwerk on Monday evening, there was a documentairy about the scientific research of Marcus Pembrey, a British geneticist. He claims that our genetic code can change depending on occurrences we encounter during our lifetime. According to Pembrey, events in the lives of our ancestors - such as disasters or famines - have a considerable influence in our lives, through our genes. It makes you think about your bad habits or addictions.


The road from gene to body is not a one-way street. It is indeed a controversial issue in genetics, but if it turns out to be true, we should look upon our lives in a different way. We are not just carriers of our genes, we are responsible for taking good care of them. We should all contemplate on it; can we justify our actions to our descendants?

Monday, April 24

My favorite quotations

The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion. - G.K. Chesterton Because my attempts to start a discussion often result in dispute.

Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one. - Malcolm Forbes Because I think it is important to realize where education is supposed to lead us to.

To the man who is afraid everything rustles. - François, Duc de la Rochefoucould Because I remember the fears of my childhood.

When a man ceases to believe in god, he does not believe in nothing. He believes in everything. - G.K. Chesterton Because it expresses how I feel about my personal believes.

There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person. -
G.K. Chesterton
Because it reminds me of the fact that everything can be relativized.

Balance is never achieved by holding it. If you try to hold your balance you will lose it. Instead reach out for it and receive it. - anonymous Because it was the best advice in yoga I ever got, and it applies to much more than physical equilibrium.

The truth is more important than the facts. - Frank Lloyd Wright Because there's a difference.

Saturday, April 22

Stealing one's soul


In the past few days I have been taking quite some pictures of our new dog. He doesn't mind at all, but in some cultures it is believed that the soul of a person is stolen when somebody takes a photograph of them. The picture could also be used for voodoo magic and such. This superstition seems unfounded but when you think about it, there's a logic behind it. A picture of yourself is really a piece of paper with 'a part' of yourself on it. Of course you know that it is just a reflection of light, which allows us to see each other and to take photographs. But it's still you on that picture. Isn't it?

About the image: This picture by Alfred Cheney Johnston was taken before 1920. A naked woman with an old fashioned camera. Clearly, it is not her soul that has been taken, but I don't know about her clothes.

Friday, April 21

Hawaiian hotspot


About a week ago I received some great US sand samples, including a sample from the very beach where Lost scenes are filmed, at Oahu, Hawaii. The brother of the person sending me the sand bribed a guard to get on the set. I love samples with stories. Anyway, today I made a geography exam in which we needed to calculate the avarage speed of the Pacific Plate as it moves over the Hawaiian hotspot. According to abc.net.au:

Hot, solid rock rises to the hot spot from greater depths. Due to the lower pressure at the shallower depth, the rock begins to melt, forming magma. The magma rises through the Pacific Plate to supply the active volcanoes. The older islands were once located above the stationary hot spot but were carried away as the Pacific Plate drifted to the northwest.

This is the kind of thing I love about geology. It's thinking big, it's seeing the bigger picture. If I can only make a picture of it in my mind, then I can understand it. If I interpreted the given sources correctly, the avarage speed is about 9,7 centimetres per year [checking] and this turns uit to be the right answer, according to the mighty Internet. A good thing too, as I tend to forget some zeros - somewhere along the way.

Wednesday, April 19

Meet Louis

It's in dutch, but with lots of cute pictures
shh, he's sleeping now!

Monday, April 17

Thinking big


Small things can help us understand the grandiosity of other things. Everything is relative, and size is no exception. For instance, take a look at a grain of sand. A tiny rock of about a 1/2 to 2 mm in diameter, consisting mostly of quartz. One grain weighs about 0.30 to 11 micrograms, which means that you would need between 91000 and 3,3 million grains for one gram of sand. And in this single grain there might be ten million billion atoms. To describe the exact atomic structure of a single grain of sand would require a vast library. To describe the laws which govern the structure of all grains of sand requires a pamphlet.

One of the hardest things to imagine is the vastness of the universe - and everything in this huge space. If the sun would be a grain of sand,the stars in our galaxy would fill an Olymic-sized swimming pool. If our galaxy were a grain of sand, the galaxies would fill several Olymic-sized swimming pools. The extensiveness of visible matter in the universe can be compared to one grain of sand in a cube of 32x32x32 kilometres or 20x20x20 miles. The mass of a white dwarf (an astronomical object which is produced when certain stars die) is enormous compared to its size; It's like a grain of sand with the mass of a skyscraper.

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower;
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.
- William Blake


Find a grain of sand and hold it in your hand. Subject of these incomprehensible thought experiments. It seems so small and insignificant, and in many ways it is. One futile grain in your hand, billions of futile grains touching your bare feet on the beach. Futile in the universe. But everything is relative. In ways we cannot imagine, that grain in your hand is of great importance. If not for the universe, then let it be important to you.

God says thus to him that loves him, and serves him faithfully: "Go and consider the sands of the sea, O my servant, how many they are. Wherefore, if the sea should give you one single grain of sand, would it appear small to you? Assuredly, yes. As I, your creator, live, all that I have given in this world to all the princes and kings of the earth is less than a grain of sand that the sea would give you, in comparison of that which I will give you in my paradise."
- Gospel of Barnabas

About the image A screenshot from The Neverending Story (1984). A troubled boy dives into a wonderous fantasy world through the pages of a mysterious book. He reads about Fantasia, consisting of the fantasies of every child. But this world is doomed, slowly disappearing in Nothingness. In the end, all that is left is a grain of sand. But not all is lost. The boy is given the chance to recreate Fantasia, using his own imagination.

A little imagination is all you need to turn one grain of sand... into so much more.

Sunday, April 16

Art

This work by Christopher Gilbert is beautiful! Very inspiring, such creativity.



Saturday, April 15

Great expectations


Finally! Next wednesday we can pick up 'our' puppy-for-a-year. As I've explained in this post, the dog needs to be given basic training and experience to become a potential guide dog. I wonder how our cats will react. Knowing Tommy, that grumpy old hairball (though only 4 years old) will be nittled for quite some time. I expect more of Smokey. If you're bored to death every day, you will try anything to get some attention.

The song Hello from Lionel Ritchie was used in a tv commercial of KNGF (Royal Dutch Guide dog Fund) a few years ago, and I think it's quite apposite. Some parts of the lyrics sound like thoughts of a guide dog owner (You're all I've ever wanted), others of puppy families (I wonder where you are) andthe guide dog itself . Hello, is it me you're looking for? With a little imagination...

Hello, is it me you're looking for I can see it in your eyes I can see it in your smile You're all I've ever wanted, and my arms are open wide 'Cause you know just what to say And you know just what to do And I want to tell you so much, I love you I long to see the sunlight in your hair And tell you time and time again how much I care Sometimes I feel my heart will overflow Hello, I've just got to let you know 'Cause I wonder where you are And I wonder what you do Are you somewhere feeling lonely, or is someone loving you Tell me how to win your heart For I haven't got a clue But let me start by saying, I love you

Friday, April 14

To do the impossible

Legend: Any person of extraordinary accomplishment.

Joaquim Agostinho. A Portuguese professional bicycle racer. Several times Portuguese champion and winner at the infamous Alpe d'Huez stage of the Tour de France. 1984. Racing in Algarve, he collides with a dog at full speed. The crash is serious; Agostinho fractures two ribs and his skull. He gets up and just makes it to the finish line, supported by fellow cyclists. He is carried to the nearest hospital by car - it takes hours to get there. He falls into a coma. Ten days later, Agostinho dies. But to make it to the finish line with such a serious injury... Legendary.

Wednesday, April 12

Piece of world & peace of mind


A few years ago, I didn't think I would ever start collecting anything. I mean, why would I? But I found that -in a strange way- building a collection can bring a certain peace of mind. A sense of achieving something in my spare time. Sand is a nice to collect for several reasons. It doesn't cost anything (although storage and shipping can be quite expensive), it's very interesting if you like geology, and your collection will never be really completed (I think that's a good thing). This hobby does cause a mess, even if you try to keep everything tidy and orderly. But to have a small piece of the far reaches of the earth, to imagine the incredible journey of each grain... Call me crazy, but I love the idea. Some of my favorite sands; Japanese star sand consisting of the remains tiny starshaped organisms, sand from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean (between Scotland and Iceland), sand from Antarctica and sand from Nova Zembla. And over 500 other samples from all over the world, which is just a fraction of all sand available on earth. I think I need some help!

Monday, April 10

Lucky

The human mind makes connections, though some of them are unfounded and false. These irrational links are the origin of superstition. A person performs a certain action - or a specific event takes place in his environment - and after this occurence, something happens that seems to be a result of the event. Certainly if this happens twice or more times. I'm not supposed to be judging of course, but it seems to be probable that this presumed connection between cause and consequence is only imagined. About a year ago, I spend some hours expanding the dutch Wikipedia article on superstition; in dutch bijgeloof . It's hard to translate literally... geloof means belief or religion, and bij indicates it being a belief 'beside' common belief. Visiting today, I read one of the rhymes that was used to remember unlucky days (I added it to the article myself).

"April: Op de tiende en de elfde beide, Zal de dood een 'warm' ontvangst bereiden."
"April: On both the tenth and eleventh, Death will prepare a 'warm' welcome."


What it means exactly, I do not know. The words sound very ominous though. Dying today doesn't seem like a good idea. There are many other things that are believed to bring misfortune too. Other sinister events that attracted my attention;

  • To drop a book and not step on it.
  • To comb your hair in the dark.
  • To dream of cabbage.
  • To meet somebody without a head (?)

If you've just lost all your luck by doing one of the first three things of this list; below is a small 'to do list'. If you've just met a headless person, please call an ambulance.

To do list: Tomorrow before breakfast, sing and sneeze three times. After you've had a pancake, set out to the refuse-dump and find a horseshoe and a dog you've never met before - use a sausage or something to make sure he walks home with you. The next thing is going to be painful; punch yourself to make your right nostril bleed. Then go to the zoo to meet a lion and hear a nightingale sing. Call a chimney sweeper (even if you don't have a chimney) and make sure you touch him. Give him a cup of tea or something. If it's raining, take a walk. In stormy weather, get your hair cut. In the evening it's time for your favorite hobby; spinning. No, this has nothing to do with bikes.

Sunday, April 9

Imagined connections


What a coincidence. After posting yesterday's text on time and time travelling, I watched The Time Machine - a movie based on a novel of H.G. Wells. The similarity didn't occur to me until the credits. I wrote about the same topic without knowing that the movie would be on tv the very same day. Very improbable - or maybe it wasn't a coincidence. To my subjective mind it seems like there's a connection between the two events, but sometimes the human brain connects things that have nothing to do with each other. There are three possibilities to explain what happened. First of all, maybe I díd know The Time Machine was going to be on tv. Maybe I read it days ago and forgot about it. I thought of posting something on time and time travelling because my subconscious remembered.

The second possibility seems unlikely. It might have been sheer coincidence. The chance of something like this happening is very small, of course. On the other hand; for every day that an improbable event happens, there are hundreds of days when nothing strange happens. But nobody ever dwells on improbable events not happening. We only remember events that stand out, we only notice things that aren't happening every day.

Possibility number three is not very obvious either, but it could be... I could have been unconsiously looking into the future. Who is to say what is true or false?

Saturday, April 8

Fast forward


Time flies by. In dutch, there is a verb I would like to use to describe how I feel it goes by, with such devastating speed and strength; denderen. A vision comes to my mind, just thinking of this word. Lying a few inches besides the tracks while a freight train comes by. Seeing it, hearing it, feeling it boom in all my bones. But then again, we're in the train itself, seeing the outside world pass by. If we were lying alongside the track, the Present Express would soon be out of sight, leaving us at the hollow and deserted Station of the Past. I guess it must feel like the forlorn airport of Bangor, Maine in Stephen King's story the Langoliers. Left behind in a deadened, lifeless world. I'm not going to give away the plot - for those of you who haven't read it - but I can recommend reading it. Even if you're not into horror. It's more like a thought experiment.

To modern man, time is scarce. Every second is valuable, squandered time will be lost for ever. Trown out of a rumbling train. All the more reason to stop rushing, and start taking a look out of the window.

Friday, April 7

Muses


Praise the evening hours
that bring upon their cooling breeze
sweet whispering of Muses
and the approaching of their feet

It seems as if some Muses are night owls; I know Erato only visits me after 10pm. Muse of lyric poetry. She likes sitting at my bed and keeping me out of my sleep. "Write it down, or you'll have forgotten it in the morning!" she whispers. She can drop by any time she likes. I've only met one of her sisters: Urania. Those concerned with philosophy and the heavens are dearest to her. Yes, the heavens tempt me too - but mostly at daytime (it's so cold in the evening). I think miss Urania has better things to do when daylight fades and stars are lit.

Thursday, April 6

Illusions


Sometimes, movies are more than entertainment. Sometimes they strike me. Instinct was released in 1999, starring Anthony Hopkins. IMDb: Nearly two years after having gone amiss in Africa, the renowned anthropologist Dr. Ethan Powell is caught attacking a group of gorilla-poachers. He is imprisoned in a Florida mental institution, where aspiring psychologist Dr. Theo Calder takes over his important case. Dr. Powell, who has been with a group of gorillas during all that time, is not talking at all and seems to be living in a dreamworld. Very slowly, Dr. Calder manages to reach Ethan Powell and starts finding out why Ethan killed two of the poachers. Yet Theo's case is not just about why the murders have happened, but also about how Dr. Powell became the being he is in the first place. With Ethan's silence broken, Theo is introduced into a world beyond common human comprehension: The true nature of being.

Time for some dialogues. Dr. Calder interviews Ethan:

Calder: I'm the one.
Powell: The one in control, huh?
Calder: Yes.
[Dr. Powell grabs the psychologist, forces him on the floor and nearly chokes him]
Powell: Who's in control? So who is in control, huh?Are you? Am I? The guards outside? The warden in his office? Yeah? Who's in control? [grabs recorder] Testing, testing, testing. One, two, three, four. Dr Ethan Powell,interviewing Dr Theo Caulder. Now, this will be a very simple test. Pass or fail, life or death. Ready, Juha ? Now, you write onthis paper what l have taken from you. What have you lost? Write it! Write it! [Calder writes "control"] Wrong. You never had control.You only thought you had it. An illusion, TabibuJuha And what do you control for sure, huh? The volume on your stereo, the airconditioning in your car? What else? What else?All right. Another chance, you were nervous. Too much pressure. Try again. What have you lost ?What did I take ? Write it. Write it ! ["my freedom"] You're a fool, Juha. Ha! Did you think you were free ? Where were you going at today? Into the gym, right ? In the morning,your wake-up call. In the middle of the night when you wakeup sweating, with your heart pounding. What is it that has you all tied up, Juha, tied up in little knots? Is it ambition ? Yeah. You're no mysteryto me, boy. I used to be you. Okay. One last chance. You think I won't do it ? [ chuckles ] What's one psychiatrist less to the world ? I'm already deep in the pit. So what can they do to me ? Last try. Get it right. What have you lost ? What did l take from you ? Write it. ["my illusions"] Yeah. Congratulations. You're a student, after all. And you've lost nothing but your illusions... and a little bit of skin.

When Powell has drawn a map of the world on the walls of his prison cell (see picture):

Calder: What are you making here?
Powell: The true history of mankind. It's a true history.No fiction, no lie. Africa,two million years ago. Humans. Then they moved. Migrated. Ten thousand years ago,civilization. (...) You.
Calder: This is me?
Powell: Yeah, and me too. Us. Takers.
Calder: Who arethe blue people ?
Powell: They're tribal societies - hunters, gatherers, planters. They never killed more animals than they could use. They never ploughed more landthan they needed. They fought, but they never waged war. Never exterminated. They had a place in the world. They were part of it. And they shared it. We changed all that.
Calder: Now, what, are we supposed to change it back? What are we supposed to do?
Powell: Move.
Calder: Move where?
Powell: Out of my way.
[Dr. Calder moves aside]
(...)
Powell: Dominion.
Calder: What ?
Powell: We have only one thingto give up - our dominion. We don't own the world. We're not kings here, not gods. Can we give that up? Too precious,all that control? Too tempting, being a god?


Sometimes they're right.

Tuesday, April 4

The Architecture of Happiness


In his book The Architecture of Happiness, Alain de Botton wonders how architecture and interior design influence our emotions. Does a beautiful surrounding make people happier? De Botton disagrees with this idea. For example, many tyrants and murderers have lived in the most magnificent and exquisite residences, yet this didn't prevent them from suppressing and killing people.

I think environment does have a big effect on people's state of mind, but like all material things it only works complementary to other factors. For instance, living in a dump can make you seriously unhappy. This doesn't mean that you can't be just as unhappy in a country house. Other influences can make somebody feel quite content, even when he's homeless and unemployed. But he'd probably feel better if he could live in a nice house. So, what I'm saying is; material things are important - we all need some basics - but it's not enough by far.

What more do we need? As I've written a few posts ago (Reaching), I think there are several factors one could name. Having something to do and something to look forward to. But above all, love seems to be the ultimate key to happiness. Love for your life companion, relatives and friends. Love for what you do and what you believe in. Love for yourself.

Sunday, April 2

Watching sports


I understand why humans practise sports. There are plenty of reasons. To socialize, to stay fit, to satisfy our natural drive for competition... But why watch it? Why buy expensive tickets or turn on your television to "watch unusually tall individuals get together in groups to hurl a spherical object through a suspended ring", for instance? This post at Philosophy Talk got me thinking. Sports are very competitive activities - and even when you're not in the game yourself, you want 'your team' to win. When you're watching an exciting match or race, it can almost feel like you're competing yourself. You even feel the rush of adrenaline. The only explanation I can think of, is the fact that people can get semi-addicted to that feeling. It's like being addicted to bungee jumping or other extreme sports, but with a much weaker stimuli. Personally, I love roller coasters.

About the image: A girl's basketball team in North Dakota, 1908. Photograph taken by John McCarthy. Source.

Saturday, April 1

There Is A Word


There is a word
Which bears a sword
can pierce an armed man.

It hurls its barbed syllables, --
At once is mute again.
But where it fell
The saved will tell
On patriotic day,
Some epauletted brother
Gave his breath away.

Wherever runs the breathless sun,
Wherever roams the day,
There is its victory!
Behold the keenest marksman!
Time's sublimest target
Is a soul "forgot"!

Emily Dickinson

About the image: Way to the Sea by Will Barnet