Johnson, Vanity of Human Wishes, 1749

Let Observation with extensive View,

Survey Mankind, from China to Peru;

Remark each anxious Toil, each eager Strife,

And watch the busy Scenes of crouded Life;

Then say how Hope and Fear, Desire and Hate,

O’er spread with Snares the clouded Maze of Fate,

Where wav’ring Man, betray’d by vent’rous Pride,

To tread the dreary Paths without a Guide;

As treach’rous Phantoms in the Mist delude,

Shuns fancied Ills, or chases airy Good.

How rarely Reason guides the stubborn Choice,

Rules the bold Hand, or prompts the suppliant Voice,

How Nations sink, by darling Schemes oppres’d,

When Vengeance listens to the Fool’s Request.

Fate wings with ev’ry Wish th’ afflictive Dart,

Each Gift of Nature, and each Grace of Art,

With fatal Heat impetuous Courage glows,

With fatal Sweetness Elocution flows,

Impeachment stops the Speaker’s pow’rful Breath,

And restless Fire precipitates on Death.”

via Johnson, Vanity of Human Wishes, 1749.

— more —

Facebook Twitter Email

ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF A DOG: Unamuno Compares Material World of Man & Dog to Spirit World

Scan0003“. . . But, there, we will not have the souls of the living things around our soul,the soul of the fields,the souls of the rocks,the souls of the trees and the rivers,of the beasts? . . .  ‘   — more —



For Samantha, 1999-2014

Facebook Twitter Email

Sumer Is Icumen In – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Middle English[edit]

Sumer is icumen in,

Lhude sing cuccu!

Groweþ sed and bloweþ med

And springþ þe wde nu,

Sing cuccu!

Awe bleteþ after lomb,

Lhouþ after calue cu.

Bulluc sterteþ, bucke uerteþ,

Murie sing cuccu!

Cuccu, cuccu, wel singes þu cuccu;

Ne swik þu nauer nu.

Sing cuccu nu. Sing cuccu.

Sing cuccu. Sing cuccu nu!

Modern English[edit]

Summer has come in,

Loudly sing, Cuckoo!

The seed grows and the meadow


And the wood springs anew,

Sing, Cuckoo!

The ewe bleats after the lamb

The cow lows after the calf.

The bullock stirs, the stag farts,

Merrily sing, Cuckoo!

Cuckoo, cuckoo, well you sing,


Don’t ever you stop now,

Sing cuckoo now. Sing, Cuckoo.

Sing Cuckoo. Sing cuckoo now!

The translation of “bucke uerteþ” is uncertain.[4] Some translate as “the buck-goat turns”, but the current critical consensus is that the line is “the stag farts”[citation needed], a gesture of virility indicating the stag’s potential for creating new life, echoing the rebirth of Nature from the barren period of winter[citation needed].

via Sumer Is Icumen In – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. THANKS WIKIPEDIA!

Facebook Twitter Email

My Master’s Hip Replacement by C. Tobin Tortoise

TORTU 821x513


Drawing by Carolyn Milliken


For the past several weeks my master here at The Tortoise Factor has undergone successful hip surgery.  I’ve had to secretly fill in for him.  The operation went as well as the dual knee replacement of several years ago. The hip joint like the buns that surround it, unlike the leaner neighborhood of the the knees, is harder to access and less painful in the end because of all the muscle in those climes.  So, according to Master, the knee trip was briefer but a little more  painful. The hip job just takes longer.  He took very few pain pills and Tylenol did the job.  Three days max in the hospital.

Although the tortoise has a hip, it has to have industrial strength due the long life of tortoises — sometimes over 100 years.  Then, too, I don’t suppose we tortoises subject our bodies to the risks of strenuous, unnatural feats of athletic prowess.  We sleep a lot in winter, too.  We don’t mow the lawn and experience a lot of rotation at the end of each cut.  We don’t bowl and crouch either. I can’t ride a bicycle as Master does.  I don’t know whether pumping uphill does good or bad for the hips.  Mostly I think Master just sat on his can too much and didn’t work out the arthritis, but I’m only a tortoise not a doctor.  Master is a bookworm.  He told me he’s going to look into one of those new desks with the elevator(crank or electric) that enables a sedentary man to at least stand at his computer.

Master didn’t want to write this article, because “There’s nothing more boring than an old fart rambling about aches, pains and travails of infirmity and inconvenience.”  Master was lucky to have those cheerful nurses and a long suffering wife stepping and fetching for him now for weeks.  By the way he says that tool called a reacher was a blessing as a man isn’t able to bend or allowed to bend more than 90 degrees).  It’s a wonderful tool.  Unlike the plastic urinal and the horrible surgical stockings, Master will keep the reacher  — but I wish he’d quit teasing me and the dogs with it.  Well, he feels good anyway, snapping away at all of us with his reacher.

While he was pretty diligent about his therapy, he groused a lot, especially at the leg lifts,  bridges and crotch crunchers.  He was great at wiggling his toes.  The walker made him feel really elderly and just as clanky as the device itself.  When cane time came, he was surprised at the challenging art of using a cane.  If you ever have to use one, remember to put it on the side opposite the injury  — seems strange but it works.  Master has trouble remembering this.  Truly he found caning as troubling  as walking and chewing gum at the same time.  Regardless of using a cane or  walker, a man has to look out for sleeping dogs and cats.  After surgery it’s all about balance and minute caution.  Oh, and Miller High Life. That rule he broke.

With the blessings of God, medical technology, a great wife, Medicare, books and the company of terriers and Toby. Master is very happy and thankful.  Oh, one last caveat, if you buy ankle weights add them VERY slowly.  A success with an effective half pound weight is no invitation to add five too soon. Easy does it. This is tortoise wisdom at its best: incremental, careful exertions.  Let the hare get the shin splints.

Steadfast and cautious,

C. Tobin Tortoise

Facebook Twitter Email

How the Tortoise Taught Soul Nada Brahma

“There exists in the East a legend which relates that The Great Spirit made a statue of clay in the image we now know as human, and asked the soul to enter into it. But the soul refused to enter into this prison, for its nature is to fly about freely, and not be limited and bound to any sort of captivity. The soul did not wish in the least to enter this prison. Then the Great Spirit asked the angels and devas to play their music and, as they played, the soul was moved to ecstasy. Through that ecstasy–in order to make this music more clear to itself–it entered this body.”  — more

via How the Tortoise Taught Soul Nada Brahma.

In the preceding blog Ambrose Bierce says the tortoise is without soul.  Perhaps, but here is how Tortoise inspired Soul with Nada Brahma.

Facebook Twitter Email

The Tortoise Defined — Ambrose Bierce

“TORTOISE, n. A creature thoughtfully created to supply occasion for the following lines by the illustrious Ambat Delaso:






TO MY PET TORTOISE   by Ambrose Bierce


My friend, you are not graceful –not at all;

Your gait’s between a stagger and a sprawl.

Nor are you beautiful: your head’s a snake’s

To look at, and I do not doubt it aches.

As to your feet, they’d make an angel weep.

‘Tis true you take them in whene’er you sleep.

No, you’re not pretty, but you have, I own,

A certain firmness –mostly you’re [sic] backbone.

Firmness and strength (you have a giant’s thews)

Are virtues that the great know how to use —

I wish that they did not; yet, on the whole,

You lack –excuse my mentioning it –Soul.

So, to be candid, unreserved and true,

I’d rather you were I than I were you.

Perhaps, however, in a time to be,

When Man’s extinct, a better world may see

Your progeny in power and control,

Due to the genesis and growth of Soul.

So I salute you as a reptile grand

Predestined to regenerate the land.

Father of Possibilities, O deign

To accept the homage of a dying reign!

In the far region of the unforeknown

I dream a tortoise upon every throne.

I see an Emperor his head withdraw

Into his carapace for fear of Law;

A King who carries something else than fat,

Howe’er acceptably he carries that;

A President not strenuously bent

On punishment of audible dissent —

Who never shot (it were a vain attack)

An armed or unarmed tortoise in the back;

Subject and citizens that feel no need

To make the March of Mind a wild stampede;

All progress slow, contemplative, sedate,

And “Take your time” the word, in Church and State.

O Tortoise, ’tis a happy, happy dream,

My glorious testudineous regime!

I wish in Eden you’d brought this about

By slouching in and chasing Adam out.”


Ambrose Bierce embed quote add to favorites email quote Created Creature Following Illustrious Lines Occasion Supply Thoughtfully Tortoise

Facebook Twitter Email