Technology Needs Poetry

bookAmy and I had just entered the biblio-pilgrims destination in Portland Oregon this past Tuesday. Even though the temple was under construction Powell’s Books was busy with life. Grabbing a facilities map as we entered we chose to divide and conquer each of us heading toward our favorite areas of erudite worship.

It wasn’t long before Amy shot me a text. She had found a really intriguing and really old book of poetry on the top floor near the rare books section.

She showed me her rare find.

The book was small and had the familiar smell of dust mixed with age; its pages darkened with time.

Compiled in 1929, the title was utilitarian: “One Hundred and One Famous Poems, with a prose supplement.”

Many of the writers were familiar, but the selected works were like a newly found  picture of an old friend. Quickly I scanned the poems and noted some that I would need to read.  What struck me immediately, though,  was the preface penned by the editor Roy J. Cook. It reads as follows:

“This is the age of science, of steel-of speed and the cement road. The age of hard faces and hard highways. Science and steel demand the medium of prose. Speed requires only the look-the gesture What need then of poetry?

Great need!

There are souls, in these noise-tired times, that turn aside into unfrequented lanes, where the deep woods have harbored the fragrances of many a blossoming season. Here the light, filtering through perfect forms, arranges itself in lovely patterns for those who perceive beauty.

It is the purpose of this little volume to enrich, enable, encourage. And for man, who has learned to love convenience, it is hardly larger than his concealing pocket.”

How timely for us today. The age of science and speed, and I would add technology. As technology continues to increase at an exponential rate, the need to slow, and read prose, practice meditation and find balance in solitude and silence with God also rises.

The very advances that were supposed to bring us more time to enjoy life, seem to absorb any spare moment we might otherwise have.

Noise-tired and technologically-saturated lives have great need of words that remind of what matters most.

hamletsblackberry385-01A book I have read in the past couple years titled Hamlet’s Blackberry (which I highly recommend) looks at our current “screen addiction” offering  some hope for our souls in a culture that is obsessive about connectivity. Hamlet’s Blackberry  illustrates how our technological advances over the centuries have eroded  much more than we realize, and the author gives great advice on how to regain what we have lost. Check it out here.

So, yes, our data-filled, noise-filled, and growth-oriented world need prose, poetry and verse to bring balance and beauty back to us. To that end, allow me to reveal some prose from my new little book. The title is “A Psalm of Life.”  The author is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

I know you are busy. There are more things in your inbox than in your completed box. You don’t have time to slow and read something that doesn’t help your current end-game…but hold on.

Maybe reading this will be a tipping point for your soul…

Perhaps in the next few moments your soul will be stirred and offer a different direction for your future…

Maybe, just maybe, you will breathe deeper and feel the joy of life return to your bones. So relax, and absorb Longfellow’s words. May they be a dessert for your busy-soul.

A Psalm of Life

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
Life is but empty dreams!–
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like a muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,—act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

I agree with the editors premise…our world of science, steel and speed need poetry.

Elementary My Dear Watson.

I will admit it…I have been a huge Sherlock Holmes fan all of my reading life. I have the anthologies, every story scribed, and even the modern authors who tried to find the voice of Holmes and write new cases for him to solve.

There is a new show that premiered this week called “Elementary” starring Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu which is a modern day adaption of Arthur Conan Doyle’s infamous characters. I haven’t seen it yet, but I hope too, and more so, I hope it doesn’t destroy the incredible characters invented in the genius of Doyle.

As I saw a commercial for the new series, my mind went to some famous Sherlockian quotes, so I am sure you can probably deduce by now, that this wee=ks Sunday Night Quotes are coming from Sherlock Holmes! I know, that was elementary…

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“You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.” ~Sherlock Holmes –A Scandal in Bohemia

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” ~Sherlock Holmes – A Case of Identity

“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”  ~Sherlock Holmes –The Sign of Four

“You have a grand gift for silence, Watson. It makes you quite invaluable as a companion.”  ~Sherlock Holmes

“Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself; but talent instantly recognizes genius.” ~ Arthur Conan Doyle, The Valley of Fear

“I am a brain, Watson. The rest of me is a mere appendix.” ~ Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone

“My mind,” he said, “rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation. That is why I have chosen my own particular profession, or rather created it, for I am the only one in the world.”  ~Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four

“Now is the dramatic moment of fate, Watson, when you hear a step upon the stair which is walking into your life, and you know not whether for good or ill.”  ~ Sherlock Holmes

“There is nothing more to be said or to be done tonight, so hand me over my violin and let us try to forget for half an hour the miserable weather and the still more miserable ways of our fellowmen.”  ~Arthur Conan Doyle, The Five Orange Pips

“Beyond the obvious facts that he has at some time done manual labour, that he takes snuff, that he is a Freemason, that he has been in China, and that he has done a considerable amount of writing lately, I can deduce nothing else.”  ~ Arthur Conan Doyle, The Red Headed League

“When one tries to rise above Nature one is liable to fall below it. The highest type of man may revert to the animal if he leaves the straight road of destiny.”  ~Sherlock Holmes

“A sandwich and a cup of coffee, and then off to violin-land, where all is sweetness and delicacy and harmony, and there are no red-headed clients to vex us with their conundrums.”  ~Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

“Dr. Watson’s summary list of Sherlock Holmes’s strengths and weaknesses:

“1. Knowledge of Literature: Nil.
2. Knowledge of Philosophy: Nil.
3. Knowledge of Astronomy: Nil.
4. Knowledge of Politics: Feeble.
5. Knowledge of Botany: Variable. Well up in belladonna, opium, and poisons generally. Knows nothing of practical gardening.
5. Knowledge of Geology: Practical but limited. Tells at a glance different soils from each other. After walks has shown me splashes upon his trousers, and told me by their colour and consistence in what part of London he had received them.
7. Knowledge of Chemistry: Profound.
8. Knowledge of Anatomy: Accurate but unsystematic.
9. Knowledge of Sensational Literature: Immense. He appears to know every detail of every horror perpetrated in the century.
10. Plays the violin well.
11. Is an expert singlestick player, boxer, and swordsman.
12. Has a good practical knowledge of British law.”
~Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet

“The best way of successfully acting a part is to be it.” ~ Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure Of The Dying Detective

“Never theorize before you have data. Invariably, you end up twisting facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.” Sherlock Holmes

“I have been beaten four times – three times by men and once by a woman.”  ~Sherlock Holmes to John Openshaw: The Five Orange Pips

“Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent.”  ~Sherlock Holmes  –A Case of Identity