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A soporific, non-pharmaceutical aide with which to ease your descent into sleep, or, alternatively, to awaken your literary passion. Pass an hour with me, and you’ll hear read in a soothing, tranquil voice the greatest works to which voice can be given.
 
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'Tis true--we never repent of having eaten too little. Of having eaten too much, we cannot but feel ashamed. A moratorium seems to have been placed on our moderation, and we indulged on bubbly drinks and savory delights! Worry not. Let us meditate our way back to a healthier state of body and mind.By Daniel Ethan Finneran
 
"He had a desire to secure eternal and perpetual fame, but his method was ill-advised. For he abolished the old names of many things and places and gave them new ones based on his own, so that he termed the month of April, 'Neroneus' and he had a plan to give Rome the name of 'Neropolis'". Can you guess the emperor about whom Suetonius is speaking?…
 
"This contagious superstition is not confined to the cities only, but has spread its infection among the neighboring villages and country. Nevertheless, it still seems possible to restrain its progress..." Emphasis on the word "seems", for, as we know, this virulent superstition of which Pliny the Younger speaks, to which we now attach the innocent…
 
"War is simply a continuation of political intercourse, with the addition of other means". Those last two words, "other means", have always left me feeling somewhat uneasy. Is it not, after all, a kind of euphemism, a gentle phrase more agreeable to sensitive ears, behind which all the horrors of war--all the carnage, bloodshed, conquest, death, an…
 
“The policy of the emperors and the senate, as far as it concerned religion, was happily seconded by the reflections of the enlightened, and by the habits of the superstitious, part of their subjects. The various modes of worship, which prevailed in the Roman world, were all considered by the people, as equally true; by the philosopher, as equally …
 
“Every individual is seen to be strongly actuated by a desire to be seen, heard, talked of, approved and respected, by the people about him, and within his knowledge”. This is the fundamental, universal impulse by which every single person is animated—a passion for distinction, and a desire to be loved. We all feel it—from our life’s beginning, til…
 
“Me miserable! Which way shall I fly—Infinite wrath, and infinite despair? Which way I fly is hell; myself am hell; And in the lowest deep a lower deep still threatening to devour me opens wide, to which the hell I suffer seems a heaven”. The question, then, fiend Satan, is wither goest thou? Quo vadis, king of the infernal depth? Directionless and…
 
“Thus it appears that the Christian Church chose to celebrate the birthday of its Founder on the twenty-fifth of December in order to transfer the devotion of the heathen from the Sun to him who was called the Sun of Righteousness”. The Nativity of Christ, then, is observed not at some divinely-sanctioned date, an hour of which the singing angels i…
 
“A thing of beauty is a joy for ever: Its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness; but still will keep a bower quiet for us, and a sleep full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing”. Indeed, forever joyous is that beautiful thing—its fair image upon the Grecian urn so fitly stamped. For beauty knows not death, nor feels …
 
“Ah! Well a-day! What evil looks had I from old and young! Instead of the cross, the Albatross about my neck was hung.” And thus, in death, the image of the bird was born. Had the trigger-happy Mariner not shot this helpful fowl, this airy guide upon whom the wayward crew was dependent, we’d not have the great expression—an “Albatross to bear”. Pin…
 
“You see, I wanted to become a Napoleon…that’s why I killed. Well, is it clear now? Would Napoleon have gone ahead or not?” Doubtless, he would have. The Corsican artilleryman, that great general upon whom, in the rubble of the Revolution, the dazzling title of “First Consul” was bestowed, was little encumbered by his conscience, and seldom dissuad…
 
“Henceforth I ask not good-fortune—I myself am good-fortune. Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing, done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms. Strong and content, I travel the open road”. Might we, having now seen the “long brown path” before us, and nodded “yes” to its meanders---to the many bends along wh…
 
“A nihilist—that’s from the Latin "nihil", nothing, so far as I can judge. Therefore, the word denotes a man who doesn’t recognize anything?” Sadly, it does. The word’s etymology, should you be so fearless as to trace it to its root, shan’t lead you astray. It will, however, lead you to dark, morbid, and unnatural places, to a chthonic world out of…
 
“To the music of his strings he sang, and all the bloodless spirits wept to hear; and Tantalus forgot the fleeing water, Ixion’s wheel was tranced; Sisyphus sat rapt upon his stone and the Furies’ cheeks, it’s said, were wet with tears; And Hades’ queen and He whose scepter rules the Underworld could not deny the prayer, and called Eurydice.” Such …
 
“The days began to fly now, and yet each one of them was stretched by renewed expectations and swollen with silent, private experiences. Yes, time is a puzzling thing, there is something about it that is hard to explain”. It’s positively bewildering. Indeed, the difficulty in explaining it is only increased as one reaches the heights of the Magic M…
 
“The earth is all before me: with a heart joyous, nor scared at its own liberty, I look about, and should the guide I choose be nothing better than a wandering cloud, I cannot miss my way”. Let us mount that wayward nimbus, upon whose broad back we leap to climb, if only to seek the sunrise of a fresh and glorious day. Let us follow that venturesom…
 
“I welcome truth, I fondle it, in whosesoever hand I find it; I surrender to it cheerfully, welcoming it with my vanquished arms as soon as I see it approaching from afar”. With the exception of love, and perhaps beauty, truth is the only power to which, once beaten, we can’t but gladly submit. We smile as we bow our heads in its royal presence, an…
 
“To my taste, the most fruitful and most natural exercise of our minds is conversation. I find the practice of it the most delightful activity in our lives. In their academies, the Athenians, and even more the Romans, maintained this exercise in great honor”. In our own times, however, we’ve all but forgotten this delightful art—this melodious exch…
 
‘The Europeans,’ answered Imlac, ‘are less unhappy than we, but they are not happy. Human life is everywhere a state in which much is to be endured, and little to be enjoyed’. Alas, is this not the divine punishment for our original transgression?—the terrible consequence of our old, Edenic sin? Were our first parents not warned against tasting of …
 
“Every profound thinker is more afraid of being understood than of being misunderstood. The latter may perhaps wound his vanity; but the former will wound his heart”. For those of us still engaged in the grand, century-old philosophical autopsy of Friedrich Nietzsche, an inexhaustible examination for which, truly, the pathologist is as much needed …
 
“Be like them! Become mediocre!”—is henceforth the only morality that has any meaning left, that still finds ears to hear it. But it is difficult to preach, this morality of mediocrity!” Difficult to preach, yes, but also difficult to swallow. And he who tastes this bitter pill can’t but cough, and, after having cleared his throat, ask with shallow…
 
“A great poem is a fountain forever overflowing with the waters of wisdom and delight; and after one person and one age has exhausted all its divine effluence, another and yet another succeeds”. Our thirst for such high poetry is, in a word, unslakable. We’ll bedew our lips with no lesser type. For this, we thank God, or some superintending muse, f…
 
“Poetry is a sword of lightning ever unsheathed, which consumes the scabbard that would contain it”. Tis’ an unalloyed, ethereal blade, a bold dagger around which no mortal sheathe could wrap. Tis’ an electric sword, a flaming rod of steel, a keen weapon wielded by the tireless Uriel. He is, after all, the immobile, unblinking angel, the stolid che…
 
“A poet is a nightingale who sits in darkness, and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds; his auditors are as men entranced by the melody of an unseen musician, who feel that they are moved and softened, yet know not whence or why”. May we never know how highly perched above us the nightingale nests, nor in what tenebrous darkness the s…
 
“I have seen the softness and beauty of the summer clouds floating feathery overhead, enjoying, as it seemed, their height and privilege of motion, whilst yet they appeared not so much the drapery of this place and hour, as forelooking to some pavilions and gardens of festivity beyond”. Might we not also gain admittance to this distant, empyrean pl…
 
"The incommunicable trees begin to persuade us to live with them, and quit our life of solemn trifles. Here no history, or church, or state, is interpolated on the divine sky and the immortal year". Let us, at long last, heed their arboreal whispers, and embrace their silent grandeur. Beneath the protection of their ample shade, between the columns…
 
"That virtue only makes our bliss below, and all our knowledge is, ourselves to know". In other words, if this couplet were to be condensed into an utterance more succinct, "Know Thyself". So saith the inscription on the wall of the famed temple at Delphi, so saith the less-than pagan Pope. Enjoy this final installment of his "Essay On Man".…
 
"Man, like the generous vine, supported lives; the strength he gains is from the embrace he gives". Join me for this--Pope's penultimate installment to his famed, "Essay On Man". The themes upon which the divine Pope, that mitred-master of the couplet, proceeds to dilate are many: God and Nature; instinct and reason; man and beast; government and s…
 
"Know, then, thyself, presume not God to scan; the proper study of mankind is man". So read, in part, the inscription above the Apollonian Temple at Delphi; so says the near-divine Pope, by whom his touch of English eloquence was added to the lapidary Greek. We humans exist in a middle state, somewhere between the lofty angels and lowly beasts. We'…
 
"Laugh where we must, be candid where we can; but vindicate the ways of God to man". This is a vindication, mind you, not a justification--as John Milton might have it. Whether or not you wish to contemplate the subtle differences between the two, or simply bask in the light of their poetic brilliance, I leave to you. Either way, enjoy this reading…
 
"The Devil hath not in all his quiver's choice, an arrow for the heart like a sweet voice". Indeed, so dulcet a dart must be loosed by a gentler hand. It must be guided by an aim more eloquent than his. It must, if it's to strike that vital part, and penetrate that pulsing organ entombed in the breast, climb onto the honey-laden bow from which, wit…
 
"Ye stars! which are the poetry of heaven! If in your bright leaves we would read the fate of men and empires--'tis to be forgiven, that in our aspirations to be great, our destinies overleap their mortal state". A pilgrimage for the ages: yours, to the terra incognita of sleep, and Childe Harold's, to the land for which, at one time or another, a …
 
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