The Mystery Cargo

A wagoner was asked to identify what his load contained. However, he provided the following vague response: Three-fourths of a cross, and a circle complete; An upright, where two semi-circles do meet; A right-angled triangle standing on feet; Two semi-circles, and a circle complete. Can you figure this out? Solution The verse describes capital letters. […]

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Gleanings from the Past #91

Monotony The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the […]

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Decide

In The Devil’s Dictionary (1906), Ambrose Bierce defined “Decide” as “to succumb to the preponderance of one set of influences over another set.” What followed is this short verse: A leaf was riven from a tree, “I mean to fall to earth,” said he. The west wind, rising, made him veer. “Eastward,” said he, “I […]

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“To Blossom”

Fair pledges of a fruitful tree, Why do ye fall so fast? Your date is not so past; But you may stay yet here a while To blush and gently smile, And go at last. What, were ye born to be An hour or half’s delight; And so to bid good-night? ‘Twas pity Nature brought […]

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Quotable #90: Silence

“Be silent or let thy words be worth more than silence.” — Attributed to Pythagoras Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, Only a look and a […]

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“The Arrow and the Song”

I shot an arrow into the air, It fell to earth, I knew not where; For, so swiftly it flew, the sight Could not follow it in its flight. I breathed a song into the air, It fell to earth, I knew not where; For who has sight so keen and strong, That it can […]

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Memory and Forgetfulness

Themistocles, when Simonides said that he would teach him mnemonics, or the art of improving one’s memory, replied that he would rather learn the art of forgetfulness: Memory, and thou, Forgetfulness, all hail! Each in her province greatly may avail. Memory, of all things good remind us still: Forgetfulness, obliterate all that’s ill. This was […]

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Gleanings from the Past #89

Default The credit department of the Hudson’s Bay Co. received this letter from a Canadian farmer: “I got your letter about what I owe. Now be pachant. I ain’t forgot you. When I have the money I will pay you. If this was the Judgment Day and you was no more prepared to meet your […]

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Gleanings from the Past #88

Fortune Fortune, they say, doth give too much to many; But yet she never gave enough to any. — John Harington, 1600, quoted in The London Quarterly Review, January 1865 Behind every successful fortune there is a crime. — Mario Puzo, The Godfather, 1969 Writing Novels A man who is not born with the novel-writing […]

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Advice to Book Borrowers (Book Inscriptions)

The following are some book inscriptions found on old books warning book borrowers to return the books that they borrow: Neither blemish this book, or the leaves double down, Nor lend it to each idle friend in the town; Return it when read; or, if lost, please supply Another as good to the mind and […]

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