And the stepping into a niche, it is called Death.
LXV... I have learned my lesson, - I have learned it well; I have
learned that the Lord is always with us, from the rising of the sun to
its setting, and through the watches of the night. His arms are
around us, continually and forever, - day by day He walketh with us,
night by night doth He waken at our side.
In the soiled laborer, at the close of the day resting upon his pick,
Looking into his stern and patient face and into his strong eyes,
I saw not the weary workman of today,
But I saw the king who is to be, when ages shall have gone,
Sprung from his loins.
LXVII... A man being shipwrecked, was cast upon an uninhabited island,
where he lived alone for many years. When at length he was rescued
and had returned home his friends asked : Were you not greatly
oppressed with the lonliness? Not so, said he : I had a good comrade
with whom I talked every day. Indeed, said they, Who was that? Said
he, It was the other me.
LXVIII... A man said to his slave : I am your master no longer ; you
are free. No, master, said the slave, my work is not oppressive, and
I fare well ; and in being a slave I feel no degradation.
But, said the man, I feel the degradation of being a master. You
LXIX... A man had an enemy whom he hated. Every day he passed by his
enemy's gate. And every day a child stood at the gate. And the man
hated the child because she was the child of his enemy. And every day
the child stood at the gate.
But one day the man saw that it was not a child, but a woman, who
stood at the gate. And his hate for her vanished in that moment. And
his hate for his enemy, her father, was gone as though it had never
LXX...A fisherman had watched his nets all day but had caught no fish.
So he went home gloomy, for he would have no supper. But his wife
said, be of good cheer, we shall have tomorrow's fish for supper.
Said he, But how can we have tomorrow's fish today? Nay, said she,
LXXI... A man took a boy to task for frightening his younger brother.
Said he, Unless you are good, Satan will get you !
LXXII... Their father having died, two brothers fought for the mastery
of the house, and the elder overcame the younger, and ruled the house
as he would. And the younger learned to submit and to control
himself, and in learning to control himself he learned to control
others, and his brother amongst the rest. So that, in not a long
time, he became the real master of the house and all that were in it.
LXXIII... A man said, I am free ; I call no man master. And he went
and worked for a man for pay, obeying his every beck and nod, and
doing things at his command that he knew to be wrong, and for which
his conscience smote him.
LXXIV... An angel was sent to carry to a man a great good fortune.
And (as angels must), the angel disguised himself, and he knocked at
the door of the man as a beggar child, and stood shivering in the
cold. The man was asleep, but he heard the knock, and he said, This
must be that good fortune I am expecting. So he arose and opened his
window and looked down. But, seeing the child, he said, It is only a
beggar, and he closed the window and went back to sleep.
And the angel with the good fortune went away.
LXXV... A man prided himself that he was not black, and that he was a
gentleman. And that very day an old man, black and a cripple, with
broken shoes, stepped from the path into the wet, that he might pass
with dry feet.
LXXVI... A child was born rich. He was to know every sane pleasure.
He was to be made wise, and good, and great.
The child was stolen. He was brought up in the slums. He
tasted every ill of poverty. He became a vagabond and a thief. And
he was hanged on the gallows.
LXXVII... A boy lived where the fields were wide, - where the breezes
where he could count the stars. His heart was big like the fields. He
was happy and content.
His beard grew. He lived in the city. The streets were narrow,
and the wind did not blow. He could not see the stars. The houses
drew so close together they pressed upon his heart. He was unhappy
His beard grew grey. Again he lived where the fields were wide.
- where the breezes blew, where he could count the stars, Again his
heart grew big like the fields. He was happy and content.
LXXVIII... A man feared Death, but wished that he could fly. Then
came Death, whom he had feared, and touched him into real life, and
he soared away as a bird.
LXXIX... A child asked me, ``What do they mean by Death?'' I said to
him, ``What do you think that is meant?'' Said he, ``I think that it
LXXX... A man said, Some day I will come back to this place in my life
and see these things as they now are.
He was drifting upon a river, in an open boat, without sails, or
oars, or rudder, the sound of the sea already in his ears.
LXXXI...A woman loved a man with all her heart, -- all, all. She
thought of him, not every day, not every hour, but all the time, - all
the time. If she looked at a picture, she saw him ; if she read in a
book, she read about him ; if she sewed, with every stitch she sewed
she sewed him into the clothes she made ; if she stood amid the
curtains looking out her window at the falling leaves, he stood by her
side, looking at the fall of the leaves with her. To her there were
two worlds ; one was he, the other was all else. But she died, and he
was bereft of her, - for a time till they should meet and love again.
Then he went to her room, which she had used, where he had never
been before ; and all the pictures, and the books, and the curtains,
and the falling leaves cried out to him : ``We know you! We know
you! We know you!''
LXXXII... A man worked at a problem in figures. The result came bad
for his hopes. Sighing, he said to his friend, If that six had been
seven, all that followed would have been different, and the result
would have been good. Said his friend, If that six had been seven,
all before it would have been different, even the very beginning of
LXXXIII... It will all come right in the end, did you say? Nay, but I
say it is all right now, and always was, and ever will be, and never
will aught be out of plumb, no, not by the thinness of the straightest
LXXXIV... A child asked me, What is the water? I said, It is one part
oxygen, and two parts hydrogen. Said he, But what is the water?
LXXXV...Thousands of times it has been asked, and millions of times it
has been asked, Why? But never once yet has any man answered Why.
And if I could tell you the reason of any one thing, I would have
solved all the secrets of the universe. This intuition only do I have
: That the reason of all things, if we could but understand it, is
that one and one make two, and one more three, and another four, and
so on through the illimitable tale.
LXXXVI... A man found a hobby, which he thought to be a real horse,
but other people knew it was only a hobby. So he mounted it to ride.
And he rode far and well, for it was a real horse.
LXXXVII... As the king walked with one of his courtiers they came to a
spider's web stretched across the path. The courtier raised his hand
to brush it away. Stop, said the king, it is his house which he hath
built ; we may not destroy it. And he led the way around the web.
LXXXVIII... Cruelty, unkindness, selfishness, these so narrow the mind
and dwarf the soul that a man will not be capable of thinking large
thoughts or of doing great deeds.
LXXXIX... A man threw a stone at a dog. The dog ran away, limping.
The man laughed.
As the man passed by a house a stone fell from the roof and broke
his arm. The man did not laugh.
XC... A bird hung in a cage. And a wild bird came in the night and
perched by the cage and sang. Said the bird in the cage, Why do you
sing at night? Neither food or praise will you get, for they will not
hear you. But the free bird said, I sing for joy.
XCI... A man killed a bird. Then the dead bird's mate came to his
window and sang out all her grief. The man's heart was touched, and
he was moved with remorse, and he tried in every way to bring the dead
bird back to life. But with all his trying he could not again give
back the life he had so easily taken away.
XCII... In a certain world men and women were not born as children, to
grow up into manhood and womanhood, but they came into being as men
and women. But once a child was born. And all the people of that
world flocked to see the child, and they counted it the most wonderful thing.
It is just as wonderful in this world.
XCIII... I have heard men abuse the world, as though God had given us
a bad place to live.
XCIV... A man sold himself as a slave, and for a time he lived
content, enjoying the fruits of his sale. But when all was spent he
chafed at his slavery, and plotted escape. So he fled in the night,
and went to a far country, where he lived to old age, unknown and
undiscovered. But never did he have the sense of freedom. Always he
felt himself a slave, And at last he said, It is because I have sinned
twice and have not escaped from myself.
XCV... A man came to a sign-post reading, To Safety Town.
If that is the way, said the man to the sign-post, why do you not
And he went the other way.
XCVI... There was a wicked man whom God hated ; him he cursed with
riches. There was a good man whom God loved ; him He glorified with poverty.
We come back
To the old familiar places.
If we wander,
Still the ties
That bind us fast to childhood
Draw us back
To the old familiar places.
XCVIII... A man had a glass in which he looked at himself every day.
And he did not observe that he grew older. But at length he perceived
that the glass had grown old. So he put it away, and got another that
was new. Then he saw that he had grown old with his glass.
XCIX... A man climbed a high mountain, seeking to make his way into
heaven. When at length he had gained the top, looking up, he saw the
heavens still high above. But, looking down upon the mists that shrouded
the earth he had left, he said, At least I am nearer heaven than I
C... A boy at school did not know his lesson in the geography of
Africa. So his teacher kept him in after dark until he should learn
it. That night, in going home, the teacher became lost. The boy
found him and guided him home.
CI... A man lay upon the grass, peering at and amongst it, studying it
curiously and intently with a magnifying glass. His friend passed by
and asked, what do you do there?
Said the man, I am travling in a foreign land.
CII... A man loved a woman, and grieved greatly because she did not
love him. Said his friend, Why do you grieve? This other woman
loves you, and she is much handsomer, and more witty, and more wise.
Alas, sighed the man, she is not the same woman.
CIII...It being a holiday, a man went with his friend to the hills,
where they read the story of Ixion and his Wheel. When they had
finished, his friend said, So glad am I that it is but a legend, a
But the fable is true, sighed the man, and he went back to his
desk in the counting house, his heart amongst the pines.
CIV... A young and beautiful woman, rich, a pet of society, would go
to the war to be a nurse for the soldiers. They tried to dissuade
her. What, said they, can you do? Said she, I can pull lint with my
fingers, and I can wash clean again the bandages stained with blood.
She became the best nurse in the army, the one most beloved by
The Return of the Confederates
Not a drum was heard, anywhere,
Never a bugle blew
When we came home from the war.
CVI... A man wished to see a spirit. Said his friend, I will show you
spirits. So he took him to a window, where they looked upon a crowded
street. After a time the man said, Show me the spirits. Said his
friend, Do you not see them? - These? said the man; they are but men
and women. Said his friend, They are spirits.
CVII... A man lay sick. Death came and looked at him. Said the man,
who are you? Said Death, I am Death. And he went away.
Again the man fell sick. Death came and looked at him. Said the
man, Who are you? Said Death, I am Death. And he went away.
A third time the man fell sick. Death came and looked at him.
Said the man, Who are you? I am Life, said Death, and he went away.
And the man went with him.
CVIII... A man thought that his body was himself. But when he had
lost an arm in a battle, then he knew that his body was no part of his
CIX... A weaver sat at a loom. The pattern that he wove was strange,
and seemed without design. And as the threads trailed in and out, the
weaver mused and said : This woof is like the strands of life,
many-colored, diverse, uncertain, suddenly parting in twain. This
thread of gold that shades to black, that is my rich neighbor who lies
at the point of death ; tomorrow we will bury him. That scarlet
thread that runs by its side, that is I, the poor weaver, rich in
nothing but the red blood of health, and in the beautiful bride I
shall wed at the waxing of the moon.
On the morrow there was a burial ; they laid the weaver away in
his last sleep. But the rich man rose from his bed, and at the waxing
of the moon he wedded the weaver's bride.
CX... A boy at school did not know how to spell Yacht. But the boats
that he made sailed beautifully.
CXI... For some political offense a man who was very persuasive with
tongue and pen, was thrown into prison. There he remained three
years, constantly writing eloquent letters praying for release.
But at last, despairing of all hope from his pen, he set his wits
to work to attempt escape. And in two days he was out and far away.
CXII... These four things I hate : The sound of a gun : the gleam of a
knife ; the bark of a dog ; the lash of a whip. They are the tools of
tyrants and murderers.
CXIII... A man owned a slave. But coming to believe it to be wrong to
hold men in slavery, he said, I will set this one free. At this his
neighbors protested, saying it would be bad policy, since it would
cause other slaves to desire their freedom, and so make trouble. But
the man holding firm, they threatened ostracism. Now, for himself,
the man cared for this not a whit ; but because of his wife and
children, who would suffer, he yeilded.
But he said, I am myself a slave.
CXIV... A child reached out his hand and cried for the moon. When he
grew older he knew that the moon might not be had. But all his life
he was reaching after moons.
Another child reached out his hand and cried for the moon. To
still his crying his hand was filled with clay. Ever after, he was
satisfied with a handful of clay.
CXV... A man would go fishing. He loved the sport. It was a
relief from the tedium of life, he said. For life at its best, he
said, is grey. But upon the day appointed he was caught in machinery
which pierced his limbs with iron rods, and tore his jaws and throat
in a fearful way. As he lay upon his bed, writhing with pain, he
moaned : What have I done that God should choose me to suffer thus?
Then he heard a voice as though from a far place : I have been been
CXVI... A man said, Life at its best is grey. But when he was a child
life was red, very red. And when he came to die, and was putting life
away, it shone with all the colors of the rainbow.
CXVII... A man travelled a great journey to view a wonderful
waterfall. As he came within sound of the falls he saw a man
ploughing, his eyes upon the ground. So he asked the man the way to
the falls. The way? The way? answers he : ever there they lie, -
the falls - do you not hear them? they are wonderful. But the way?
asked the traveller. Once, said the ploughmen, I was near them ; I
heard their heavy roar ; I saw their mist rising over the trees ; but
it was my dinner time, and I hurried home. But they are wonderful -
CXVIII... For some not very grave offense a man sent his boy to bed
supperless, promising to whip him on the morrow. But during the
night, the boy grew to be six feet tall, and stout and strong in
proportion. Whereupon, after mature reflection, the man pardoned the
boy, and gave him advice, instead, showing him how it would have been
wiser and of more advantage to him not to have committted the offense.
Soldiers of North and South, who fought that day in the
Do you remember that moon of the night of the second of May?
CXVIX... A man had a vase which he prized greatly. But one day he
broke it. So he took it to a skilled workman, who mended it so deftly
that none would believe it had ever been broken. But the man never
looked upon the vase but he saw that crack was in it.
CXX... A woman had a shadow, or which at length she grew tired, and
she begged it to leave her. So the shadow left her, and attached
itself to another person. The woman, seeing the shadow gone, now felt
the loss of its companionship, and she begged it to come back. But the
shadow was content with its new companion, and would not return.
Whereat the woman grieved greatly, and would not be comforted.
Speak to a woman : you are safe:
Take her by the hand : you are in danger:
Kiss her once : you are lost.
CXXII... In a certain planet the people dreaded old age, and wished to
remain young. And they reasoned, and said : It is time that makes us
old ; if there were no more days or years we would not grow old. So
they put their wits together, how they might stop their world from
turning on its axis, and from moving in its orbit. And at length they
stopped it from moving, and there were no more days and nights, and no
more years. But they grew old, just the same.
CXXIII... A man made a god out of clay. Some men make their gods out
of wood. Some out of their own heads. In times of drought this man
prayed to his god and made sacrifices, as did his neighbors to the
gods which they had made. These sacrifices were of the fruits of
their fields and of their flocks, and they were so many and so
frequent that often their children lacked bread.
Once there came a great drought, which lasted a long time. The
man and his neighbors prayed without ceasing, and they offered up many
great sacrifices, but no rain fell. And they offered up more and
greater sacrifices, but there was no rain. And the children were
At length wisdom rose up in the man, and he said, This god is
without power. I made him with my own hands, and with my own hands I
will break him. How can a god which man has devised with his hands or
with his head, be the true God? And he broke him into pieces.
At this his neighbors were wroth, and called him impious ; and
they prophesied that rain would never again fall on his fields. But at
last the rain fell, it fell upon his fields the same as upon theirs.
Now the man offered no more sacrifices. But the corn which he
had been used to sacrifice he now laid aside in his granary, and when
his neighbors were in need he sold to them out of it. So that, in the
end, with the money thus gained he bought not only their fields and
houses, but themselves, and they became his slaves.
But they continued to worship the gods which they had made.
CXXIV... Two astronomers, having directed their telescopes on the same
night to the same part of the heavens, observed a star which had not
been seen before. Each claimed it for his own. It is mine, said one,
I found it first. - That is not true, said the other, I found it first
; it is mine. With that, they began to abuse each other, and their
mothers and their grandmothers. And at length they fell to fighting,
and much blood was spilt.
But the new world which they had found, (which was so very old,
and which had never been lost) kept on in the way in which it had
always been going.
CXXV... Let us go and see the races, said my comrade. - Good, said I,
for I love to see horses run. But he took them to the woods, where a
creek was gliding and shooting over beds of rock, like some living
thing. And we stayed there there all day, admiring and wondering at
CXXVI... The laws of the universe do not concern themselves in the
least whether we know them or not.
CXXVII... A man bought a bicycle, that he might learn to ride. But
after much trying, and after many hard falls, he gave it up, saying,
``Never again will I have aught to do with anything so unmanageable.''
Not long after, he headed a mob.
CXXVIII... A man said, ``I think for myself; I let no man's beliefs
affect mine.'' That very day there came to see him one he did not
know, saying, ``Ten times ten is not a hundred ; it is but ninety and
nine.'' After that, for a long time, there was not a day in the week
that the man did not find himself querying if ten times ten were not a
hundred but ninety and nine.
CXXIX... We admire flowers for their color ; it is the same with men
and women. This man, we admire him because he is himself; - this
other man, oh, he is anybody.
CXXX... A man said to his friend, ``Tell me what is the most dreadful
thing that ever happened.'' His friend said, `` A man loved a woman
who loved him; but afterward she ceased to love him.'' Then the man
said, `` I have known of many, many things to happen to men more
dreadful than that.'' Said his friend, ``But this happened to me.''
CXXXI... A man loved a woman who was about to die. and he entreated
her, ``Promise me that in the next life you will come to me.'' And
she said, ``I promise; I will come if I can.'' But he cried, `` In
love there is no if.'' Promise me.'' Then she said, ``I will come.''
CXXXII... What has become of all the children that were never born?
What has become of all the thoughts that were never spoken?
CXXXIII... A man died, leaving to his son a great estate. There were
flocks and herds, fields and pastures, orchards and woods. From the
homestead on the hill was a wide and beautiful prospect ; in the near
distance shone the towers and roofs of the city.
The son was a spendthrift. Soon all his father's money was gone;
then he sold the estate. And in no great time all was squandered, and
he was penniless. Then, reduced to penury and hunger, he turned his
back upon the city and trudged out to the old home.
There, upon the hillside, seated upon a stile, hungry at stomach,
ashamed to make himself known, he surveyed the beautiful land scape,
the rich patrimony he had wasted. And he vowed a vow it should all be
He went down the hill, and tramped again to the city. There he
followed a cart laden with dung, till it stopped at a gate. He had
never done a stroke of work in his life. But he knocked at the door
and bargained for bringing the dung in and spading it on the ground
When the work was done, and the money in his pocket, he asked for a
piece of bread. Before he had yet one gray hair in his head,
he had bought back all his patrimony.
CXXXIV... A man read : All things come to him who waits. So he sat
down to wait.
After a time there came a lion. The man took to his heels and fled,
saying : All things come to him who waits, even lions.
CXXXV... Soldiers sat telling their adventures, whatever most
wonderful thing had happened to each. And as every story was told, it
seemed more wonderful than all that had been told before. Now, when
all had spoken, there came one who had been a soldier in many wars,who
had had many wonderful escapes and adventures. And they said to him,
``Sergeant, tell us the most wonderful thing that ever happened to
you.'' So, when he had thought a little he said : ``I was born. That
is the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me.'' Then all were
silent, in thought, but one said, ``Truly, that is the most wonderful
adventure of all.''
CXXXVI... A man who was very learned, (having read many books), wished
to go to China. So he began to dig. ``For,'' said he , ``this is
the shortest way, and I shall save the fare.'' But when, after much
labor, he had made a great hole, and had spent more time than to get
to China, he paid his fare and went the long way.
CXXXVII... A fighter challenged three men. The first was a coward;
therefore he would not fight. The second was a brave man ; Therefore
he would not fight. The third was a fool; therefore he fought ; and
he conquered the fighter.
CXXXVIII... A man prayed for wings, that he might fly, and visit all
parts of the earth. His prayer was answered. But it was on one
condition, - that never again should he walk. Gladly he accepted the
So he flew all over the world, and saw many wonderful things, and
enjoyed himself greatly. But at length he grew tired of wings and
wished that he might walk again. So he prayed that the wings might be
taken away, and the power to walk restored to him. But his prayer was