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Ring Out Wild Bells by Alfred Tennyson 


Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
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Omelets in Cincinnati

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Omelets in Cincinnati

This story takes place more than three decades ago, so I probably shouldn’t name cities. Things might have changed, and I don’t want the people of Cincinnati angry about something that happened in the ‘70’s. I was in Ohio for a national meeting of high school students from all over the country, having just become a recent high school graduate myself.  I spent a week there, and I was preparing to go visit my great-grandmother in Kentucky for the very first time. The bus ticket had been purchased, and as I sat in the Cincinnati bus station, I decided I was hungry. Delicious aromas were wafting from the diner at the bus station, and one of my favorite breakfasts is a Denver omelet.

Now, a Denver omelet has two of my favorite foods; onions and bacon. It may sound strange to someone who hasn’t enjoyed bacony and oniony goodness cooked in eggs, but I would advise anyone who hasn’t tried one to do so before judging. But you may want them to hold the green peppers, which are usually also in a Denver omelet. I don’t like green peppers, so I have the cook hold the green peppers, and everyone is happy.

Now, sitting in a bus station diner was a new experience to me. I had never been in a bustling transportation center before, and as my breakfast was cooking, I contemplated the excitement of travel. I was listening to the noise build in the terminal as the morning travelers arrived. The smells from the kitchen were amazing.  As I sat with my mouth watering, waiting for my omelet to arrive, I don’t know if it was the new surroundings,or the fact I was hundreds of miles from home on a great adventure, travelling by myself for the first time, or the combination of all of the above, but I was excited. The omelet arrived; it looked delicious, and I was starving.

Did I mention a Denver omelet has cheese? The combination of eggs, bacon, onions and melted cheese are one of the most delicious breakfasts you could ever have, and it was one of the most delicious breakfasts I have ever had. I sprinkled a little bit of salt on it (since I put salt on almost everything, and yes -- I know it’s not healthy for me).  

My taste buds were in heaven. Yes, I love bacon by itself. I love onions and garlic because my stepfather wanted to be Italian and he was a great cook. Everything he cooked had onions and garlic in it. Even some sour cream cookies. What really happened was he liked to put garlic in the sour cream for baked potatoes, but then he forgot about the garlic when he made the sour cream cookies.  And they tasted okay, but had a kind of strange, sharp aftertaste. 

Anyway, so when that onion taste combined with the bacon, cheese and eggs, I was transported. I can still remember to this day how good that omelet tasted. There really aren’t many times you can have a breakfast you can recall decades later. As I finished the omelet I pushed the plate back in total satisfaction.

Now, to understand the next part of this story, you need to know I grew up in Utah. It’s a desert state, and the combination of the extreme heat and cold winters eliminates a lot of pest problems other places have. You may be anticipating where this story is going, so if you want to skip ahead I don’t blame you.

I looked into the kitchen. Since I was sitting in the middle of the front counter, there was a door leading right into the kitchen in front of me. I seem to remember the floor was a kind of an industrial yellow, not unexpected in a city bus station. As I sat there in bliss, the floor seemed to move a bit.

I wasn’t sure what I had just seen. Then the floor moved again. In fact, a couple of small pieces of the floor seemed to run quickly from one side of the door to the other. And then back again. I was a recent high school graduate, but my education hadn’t included this. Was I having hallucinations from the delicacy I had just consumed?

I looked closer, and the floor moved again. As I focused on a small yellow piece of the floor which had moved, stopped and then moved long enough for me to focus, I realized what I was seeing.

Cockroaches.

I'd never seen a cockroach in my life. I’d always wondered what they looked like. I really didn’t  know much about them, but I knew they weren’t supposed to be in a kitchen. And my stomach turned just a bit, and I'm happy to report that is all that happened. You know, if I knew then what I know now about cockroaches, my response might not have been so mild.

I’ve had Denver omelets since then, but that was the best.

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Omelets In Cincinnati
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Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson

I heard a fly buzz when I died;

The stillness round my form

Was like the stillness in the air

Between the heaves of storm.

The eyes beside had wrung them dry,

And breaths were gathering sure

For that last onset, when the king

Be witnessed in his power.

I willed my keepsakes, signed away

What portion of me I

Could make assignable, and then

There interposed a fly,

With blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz,

Between the light and me;

And then the windows failed, and then

I could not see to see.


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I Heard A Fly Buzz As I Died
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A Nation's Strength

  by Ralph Waldo Emerson

What makes a nation's pillars high
And its foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?

It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.

Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.

And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.

Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor's sake
Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly...
They build a nation's pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.
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Birches

by Robert Frost

When I see birches bend to left and right

Across the lines of straighter darker trees,

I like to think some boy's been swinging them.

But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.

Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them

Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning

After a rain. They click upon themselves

As the breeze rises, and turn many-coloured

As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.

Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells

Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust

Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away

You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.

They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,

And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed

So low for long, they never right themselves:

You may see their trunks arching in the woods

Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground,

Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair

Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.

But I was going to say when Truth broke in

With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm,

I should prefer to have some boy bend them

As he went out and in to fetch the cows--

Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,

Whose only play was what he found himself,

Summer or winter, and could play alone.

One by one he subdued his father's trees

By riding them down over and over again

Until he took the stiffness out of them,

And not one but hung limp, not one was left

For him to conquer. He learned all there was

To learn about not launching out too soon

And so not carrying the tree away

Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise

To the top branches, climbing carefully

With the same pains you use to fill a cup

Up to the brim, and even above the brim.

Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,

Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.

So was I once myself a swinger of birches.

And so I dream of going back to be.

It's when I'm weary of considerations,

And life is too much like a pathless wood

Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs

Broken across it, and one eye is weeping

From a twig's having lashed across it open.

I'd like to get away from earth awhile

And then come back to it and begin over.

May no fate willfully misunderstand me

And half grant what I wish and snatch me away

Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:

I don't know where it's likely to go better.

I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree

And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk

Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,

But dipped its top and set me down again.

That would be good both going and coming back.

One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

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Gunga Din

by Rudyard Kipling

You may talk o' gin and beer

When you're quartered safe out 'ere,

An' you're sent to penny-fights an' Aldershot it;

But when it comes to slaughter

You will do your work on water,

An' you'll lick the bloomin' boots of 'im that's got it.

Now in Injia's sunny clime,

Where I used to spend my time

A-servin' of 'Er Majesty the Queen,

Of all them blackfaced crew

The finest man I knew

Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din.

He was "Din! Din! Din!

You limpin' lump o' brick-dust, Gunga Din!

Hi! slippery hitherao!

Water, get it! Panee lao!

You squidgy-nosed old idol, Gunga Din."

The uniform 'e wore

Was nothin' much before,

An' rather less than 'arf o' that be'ind,

For a piece o' twisty rag

An' a goatskin water-bag

Was all the field-equipment 'e could find.

When the sweatin' troop-train lay

In a sidin' through the day,

Where the 'eat would make your bloomin' eyebrows crawl,

We shouted "Harry By!"

Till our throats were bricky-dry,

Then we wopped 'im 'cause 'e couldn't serve us all.

It was "Din! Din! Din!

You 'eathen, where the mischief 'ave you been?

You put some juldee in it

Or I'll marrow you this minute

If you don't fill up my helmet, Gunga Din!"

'E would dot an' carry one

Till the longest day was done;

An' 'e didn't seem to know the use o' fear.

If we charged or broke or cut,

You could bet your bloomin' nut,

'E'd be waitin' fifty paces right flank rear.

With 'is mussick on 'is back,

'E would skip with our attack,

An' watch us till the bugles made "Retire",

An' for all 'is dirty 'ide

'E was white, clear white, inside

When 'e went to tend the wounded under fire!

It was "Din! Din! Din!"

With the bullets kickin' dust-spots on the green.

When the cartridges ran out,

You could hear the front-files shout,

"Hi! ammunition-mules an' Gunga Din!"

I shan't forgit the night

When I dropped be'ind the fight

With a bullet where my belt-plate should 'a' been.

I was chokin' mad with thirst,

An' the man that spied me first

Was our good old grinnin', gruntin' Gunga Din.

'E lifted up my 'ead,

An' he plugged me where I bled,

An' 'e guv me 'arf-a-pint o' water-green:

It was crawlin' and it stunk,

But of all the drinks I've drunk,

I'm gratefullest to one from Gunga Din.

It was "Din! Din! Din!

'Ere's a beggar with a bullet through 'is spleen;

'E's chawin' up the ground,

An' 'e's kickin' all around:

For Gawd's sake git the water, Gunga Din!"

'E carried me away

To where a dooli lay,

An' a bullet come an' drilled the beggar clean.

'E put me safe inside,

An' just before 'e died,

"I 'ope you liked your drink", sez Gunga Din.

So I'll meet 'im later on

At the place where 'e is gone --

Where it's always double drill and no canteen;

'E'll be squattin' on the coals

Givin' drink to poor damned souls,

An' I'll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!

Yes, Din! Din! Din!

You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!

Though I've belted you and flayed you,

By the livin' Gawd that made you,

You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

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Gunga Din

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Cheerfulness Taught By Reason

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I think we are too ready with complaint

In this fair world of God's. Had we no hope

Indeed beyond the zenith and the slope

Of yon gray blank of sky, we might grow faint

To muse upon eternity's constraint

Round our aspirant souls; but since the scope

Must widen early, is it well to droop,

For a few days consumed in loss and taint?

O pusillanimous Heart, be comforted

And, like a cheerful traveller, take the road

Singing beside the hedge. What if the bread

Be bitter in thine inn, and thou unshod

To meet the flints ? At least it may be said

'Because the way is short, I thank thee, God.'

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Sonnet 14

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

If thou must love me, let it be for nought

Except for love's sake only. Do not say

"I love her for her smile —her look —her way

Of speaking gently,—for a trick of thought

That falls in well with mine, and certes brought

A sense of pleasant ease on such a day" -

For these things in themselves, Beloved, may

Be changed, or change for thee,—and love, so wrought,

May be unwrought so. Neither love me for

Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,—

A creature might forget to weep, who bore

Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!

But love me for love's sake, that evermore

Thou may'st love on, through love's eternity'.

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Sonnet 14

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MENDING WALL

by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,

And spills the upper boulders in the sun,

And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

The work of hunters is another thing:

I have come after them and made repair

Where they have left not one stone on a stone,

But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,

To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,

No one has seen them made or heard them made,

But at spring mending-time we find them there.

I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;

And on a day we meet to walk the line

And set the wall between us once again.

We keep the wall between us as we go.

To each the boulders that have fallen to each.

And some are loaves and some so nearly balls

We have to use a spell to make them balance:

'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'

We wear our fingers rough with handling them.

Oh, just another kind of out-door game,

One on a side. It comes to little more:

There where it is we do not need the wall:

He is all pine and I am apple orchard.

My apple trees will never get across

And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.

He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors'.

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder

If I could put a notion in his head:

'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it

Where there are cows?

But here there are no cows.

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out,

And to whom I was like to give offense.

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,

That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,

But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather

He said it for himself. I see him there

Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top

In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.

He moves in darkness as it seems to me

Not of woods only and the shade of trees.

He will not go behind his father's saying,

And he likes having thought of it so well

He says again, "Good fences make good neighbors."

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As I Walk These Broad Majestic Days

by Walt Whitman

As I walk these broad majestic days of peace

(For the war, the struggle of blood finish'd, wherein, O terrific Ideal,

Against vast odds erewhile having gloriously won,

Now thou stridest on, yet perhaps in time toward denser wars,

Perhaps to engage in time in still more dreadful contests, dangers,

Longer campaigns and crises, labours beyond all others),

Around me I hear that éclat of the world, politics, produce,

The announcements of recognized things, science,

The approved growth of cities and the spread of inventions.

I see the ships (they will last a few years),

The vast factories with their foremen and workmen,

And hear the endorsement of all, and do not object to it.

But I too announce solid things,

Science, ships, politics, cities, factories, are not nothing,

Like a grand procession to music of distant bugles pouring,

triumphantly moving, and grander heaving in sight,

They stand for realities--all is as it should be.

Then my realities;

What else is so real as mine?

Libertad and the divine average, freedom to every slave on the face

of the earth,

The rapt promises and lumine of seers, the spiritual world, these

centuries-lasting songs,

And our visions, the visions of poets, the most solid announcements

of any.

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As I Walk These Broad Majestic Days

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