Allerlei - Poetry, graffiti, prose. #1

When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer

When I heard the learn'd astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander'd off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.

Walt Whitman (American poet, 1819- 1892) published When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer in the 1865 edition of his poetry collection, Leaves of Grass.

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"Shit, I'm gettin' tired of these logging trucks."

I came upon this sign back in 1977 while biking from San Diego to Missoula. The graffiti was not mine! I never had a problem with logging trucks. It so happens that often there was no shoulder whatsoever on the highway so when being passed by a logging truck the clearance was quite small and the truck had to slow down. I found that when climbing hills the best approach was to get off the right side of the road onto the dirt and stop. That way I was safe and the trucker could just keep on climbing without worrying about me. Granted, it was hard for me to start moving again but not as hard as it would have been for a heavy logging truck to get back up to speed. Yes, I had every right to be on the pavement but sometimes it is better to not shove your rights down other people's throats. A little courtesy goes a long way!

Hiking in the Alpine in Summer

I wake to the sound of my tent flapping
Fabric torn in last night's hailstorm.
Peeking out I see a sky so incredibly blue,
The storm must have been
a hundred years ago.

No time for breakfast
Boots on I climb to twelve thousand feet.

Gentians, sedges, Old-Man-of-the-Mountain
Plants roar with life!
Taking in all the sun they can.
Ferociously alive!
Photosynthesizing every last bit of sunshine
Until, exhausted,
They will rest for eight long months.

Marmot runs across the trail
Mouth full of green
Eating as if there was no tomorrow.
And there almost isn't.
In three months that marmot will be sleeping
the sleep of the dead.

Heart beating once per minute.
Lungs taking in precious air once every five.
All the while dreaming
of green succulent leaves.

Winter Solstice will come and go
Stirring neither plant nor marmot.
They will continue their sleeping
Waiting for the snow to become
a trickle.

From Oh-Be-Joyful-Pass, Colorado, 2000

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The exception proves the rule.

This seems to imply that an exception affirms the rule to be true. However, the phrase uses 'prove' in an older sense - that is, 'to test.' In times past teachers proved their students by giving them tests. That usage is still current with the military today. A military proving ground is a place where weapons are tested. So an exception really does prove the rule. If an exception exists then perhaps the rule needs to be changed.

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The whole nine yards.

'Nine' does not necessarily relate to any specific measurement. The number nine was used in the past to represent completion, a cycle's end, or something absolute. Another possibility, which I came across on the web, is that nine yards was the length of a machine gun's ammunition belt. Thus gunners would sometimes give the enemy the whole nine yards or the complete ammunition belt.