Louisa May Alcott

(29 November 1832 – 6 March 1888 / Pennsylvania / United States)

Thoreau's Flute


We sighing said, "Our Pan is dead;
His pipe hangs mute beside the river
Around it wistful sunbeams quiver,
But Music's airy voice is fled.
Spring mourns as for untimely frost;
The bluebird chants a requiem;
The willow-blossom waits for him;
The Genius of the wood is lost."

Then from the flute, untouched by hands,
There came a low, harmonious breath:
"For such as he there is no death;
His life the eternal life commands;
Above man's aims his nature rose.
The wisdom of a just content
Made one small spot a continent
And turned to poetry life's prose.

"Haunting the hills, the stream, the wild,
Swallow and aster, lake and pine,
To him grew human or divine,
Fit mates for this large-hearted child.
Such homage Nature ne'er forgets,
And yearly on the coverlid
'Neath which her darling lieth hid
Will write his name in violets.

"To him no vain regrets belong
Whose soul, that finer instrument,
Gave to the world no poor lament,
But wood-notes ever sweet and strong.
O lonely friend! he still will be
A potent presence, though unseen,
Steadfast, sagacious, and serene;
Seek not for him -- he is with thee."

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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  • Rookie - 3 Points David Inkey (9/27/2007 9:08:00 PM)

    i wish to call to readers' attn that 2007 is the centenary of THE EDUCATION OF HENRY ADAMS.....and i have therefore composed a campanion piece, THE EDUCATION OF DAVID INKEY......if u wish to received a pdf copy of my work, please email me....
    UNpoet@aol.com peace, david inkey, the UN poet....... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 3 Points David Inkey (7/22/2006 12:26:00 PM)

    post waldenic, contemporary poesis.......

    given the enormous supranational problems of planet earth, i have determined that it is essential for the UNITED NATIONS to have a poet laureate. to alleviate stresses on both the general assembly and the security council, i have usurped the title of UNITED NATIONS POET LAUREATE until such time as UN reform allocates time to create poesis....... love, david inkey....

    some poets may wish to goggle my POEMS OF A PERFECT POET. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 3 Points David Inkey (7/19/2006 4:49:00 PM)

    i wish to share the news that i am now the United Nations Poet Laureate.... peace, david inkey...

    google on DAVID INKEY if you wish to see my 200 page work, POEMS OF A PERFECT POET. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 3 Points David Inkey (3/8/2005 9:51:00 PM)

    THE UNITED NATIONS PHILOSOPHER!

    I,
    went to The United Nations for good public reasons, not unlike how my friend Thoreau went to Walden Pond a hundred years earlier, for good private reasons. My mentor, David Henry, as he was first known, listened to many dreamstruck drumbeats, inaudible to his fellow townspeople, in his ever exploratory and very independent life. I, earlier known as Noel-David, now more simply as David, not the one who killed ancient, aggressive Goliath, have had to listen more attentively to the silences and sounds of our noisier times not just because of tone deafness and faulty depth perception-but I never let my disabilities hamper enthusiastic, rhythmic and arrhythmic responses to all the dreambeats, chimes and winsome songs meant for me.

    In all my life I have learned many, many important lessons-one answer more than all the questions posed and imposed. The most immediate and enduring purpose I imagine and know is: I am not the champion of lost causes, I am a champion of causes that have not yet been won. Somewhere, sometime, somehow, I learned to distrust too proud. persistent versions of his story, too often condensed to history; slowly I learned the need to hear the too often muted testaments of her story; and hope-fully, I have helped create ourstory. Generally and generously, I have tried to study, savor, and share my story, so easily, dyslexically, mistaken as mystery. My parents, siblings, other relatives, teachers, pastors and priests, civic leaders, mentors and even strangers-all have tried to teach me patriotic lessons of having the courage to succeed. Would that they all, or some of them, or even two or one of them, could have and would have been equally expeditious in promoting that all have the courage to fail, and persevere!

    Before
    my fourteenth year, there is little that needs to be noted hereabout my life. Those years will claim their appropriate places and spaces and voids as the pages I write turn over the leaves of time and are turned under to compost. Here, now, it is sufficient to note that I learned to play in The Park, the little park in The Town of Sunnyside, during my fifth and sixth years... yes, I learned to play... And, determinedly for reasons I could not yet, then nor even now, clearly express, I desisted from attending, I deserted, a small kindergarten when and where my doting and dutiful parents enrolled me-offering, or selling, or purchasing playmates to protect me from being lonely-my two older brothers having gone to school and my younger one not yet having been conceived, leaving me at home with no others of my generation. I have told parts of that story in my great and little prose poem on unencumbered childhood, I WAS A KINDER GARDEN DROP OUT! Other parts I recount from time to time to curious listeners, to share joy and to relieve pain, and yet other chapters and verses are never told, traded upon, given, or sold...

    On August 9, l938, my younger brother was born and my early childhood ended abruptly. By the first week in September, with new clothes, I was sentenced to twelve years of virtually involuntary servitude and even my Mother, especially my Mother, had little time to respond to my almost endless appeals. I was irreversibly put upon a treadmill to adulthood-not even with instructions for maturity... At nine o’clock in the morning of the first day of school I was abandoned by my parents, left with a clean handkerchief and my tears, incarcerated with Miss Shokely-I think it was a name misspelled from shock-and a cacophony of comparable culprits. First Grade and Second and Third were so full of disappointments that I won’t document here those thousand days of deprivation. Soon I was in my tenth year and I learned to time-travel by tens and thens... Still, I count so often by tens and thens ... we moved away from my park when I was in my tenth year. It was mine because I was its best caretaker. I suffered what still seems to me the greatest real estate violation known in THE ANNALS OF CHILDNESS. In my eleventh year, my neighbor playmates of the Sunnyside days were interned in a concentration camp for the crime of being “yellow, ” not cowardly, simply Nisei. In my childhood reading of secular and sacred “history” this was treatment comparable to King Herod’s Slaughter of the Innocents, or earlier, it was like casting Baby Moses adrift in the marshes of the Nile. I have learned slowly, to forgive, but I was indeed a very slow learner. It should be of no surprise that it took me half a hundred years to forgive my, their and our nation for one of the grossest injustices of all racism. Japan and the United States were similarly slow apologizing for several wartime acts. By my fourteenth year, I had known Whites and Blacks and Browns and Bluebloods and Yellows and Reds, and somehow or other, I was carefully taught not to suspect, not to hate...yes, to tolerate, to like and even to love... Nez Perce, Yakima, Navaho, Japanese, Chinese, Hispanics and other Colored Peoples-whom many had trouble naming (Negroes, Blacks, African Americans) -made early and late contributions to my understanding of Planetary Culture, eons before politicians were castigating PC. Thus, thereby, therefore, therewith and then, on October 24, l945, I was both well-schooled and educated, to be a Charter Member of The United Nations.

    So little did I know
    in that era so long ago that I would 'grow up, ' grow up to become what recently was revealed by one of my beloved admirers, “a reformed Harvard anthropologist.” I am an anthropologist of peace: an educator of penguins and proletarians, people, pupils, students, turtles and truants, ministers and Ministers, millions of monarchs in mountainous Michoacan and yet another monarch in an exotic mountainous Shangri-La half a world away, priests, pastors and prelates, princes and peons, professors and other pawns, scholars and standbys, skua, whales and walruses, activists and artists, blue-footed boobies and more current school-bound boobies: a student of sanity, an opponent of oppression: an optimist of opportunity: and a Cosmic Clown Prince of Planetary Culture... a penitent practitioner of personal commitment... even President, of a yet to be created university: In AU (pronounced “awe”) (signifying Antarctic University) , we are all optimists, forever gazing upward... We learn that life for pessimists, despite any transitory happiness, is a tragedy, while life for optimists, despite any sorrows, is a comedy... We seek happy beginnings and endings... PC is our best elective!

    In this life I shall never know how successful, nor how failing, I have been in learning all those things I should have learned and in doing all those things I should have done, but I believe, that when I die, just as I do as I live, I will say with inestimable joy and prayerful pain, I have lived! I have lived, doing much of both what I have wanted to do and of what I believe I ought to do... If this is not living in a state of grace, then I have little or no idea what constitutes gracefulness. I probably will not ever have a tombstone. A great granite boulder unclaimed by others in the wilds of The West should be enough for me, an epitaph etched with nothing but the weather my cloud child friends have given me, will suffice. The lights and shadows of daily being are my memorial, already proclaimed: 'It has been said that most people seek happiness, I create it...'

    Once
    upon a time when I was so very little, like when I was three and four and five years young, even before we moved to Sunnyside, my Mother free-quently would ask me, sometimes with a mild hint of exasperation in her lovely voice, 'What in the world do you want? ' I suppose she sometimes said, “WHAT in the world do you want? ” Other times, she would utter, “What IN THE WORLD do you want? ” When most pained, she would say, “What in the world do YOU want? ” In my marvelous, “kinder garden” innocence I could plead that she would read me yet another story, or give me yet another piece of homemade fudge, or present me with a second bowl of fresh, hot buttered popcorn. Occasionally she might even buy me an ice cream! Would that I had been “actively” philosophic then, would that I had known that I would reply so many years later, “WHAT IN THE WORLD DO I WANT? I WANT THE WORLD! ”
    From what, I quickly move towhy... Inside the heliopause and beyond the heliopause and beyond all the heliopauses in all of our forty or fifty billion, or nineth or one hundred trillion galaxies in a universe whose age seems ageless, I would explore all the dimensions of inner space and outer space, and I would ask why do we have to ask “Why? ” I would have asked my Mother and my Father, and my two Grandfathers-before I adopted two additional Grandfather mentors, and that only one, lovely, Grandmother I knew, the maternal one, and all my aunts and uncles-the redheaded ones as well as the blondes and more numerous brunettes and especially those two who gave me jelly beans and licorice-I would have asked all teachers, Mr. Tate-the Town Gardener, townspeople, hobos, the park playmates-some of whom were 'real' and some whose reality I created, 'imagined.” I would have asked all the world all my innocent questions for which in all my life I have found so few, so very few innocent answers. Elsewhere, I could confess how I have created a new mark of punctuation, the answer mark, like a eight-ray star, to enlighten all who would wish to share “truths” I have seen...

    Oh, how bedtime prayers
    were supposed to keep me safe till morning light! Life was so open-or seemingly so open-in those unencumbered years when my only fears were of the dark-where-all through the night- loving parents left for me a light in the hallway at the top of the stairs-before that alien institution called SCHOOL banished my friend Creativity and failed even to recognize the existence of my spiritual companion, Imagination. Then, I was “well schooled” for a dozen years, knowing little about the freedom of conscience I would rediscover after my valedictory departure from a high school owned by The Spartans... People were actually proud of being in Sparta, instead of recreating or creating an Athens! I had to go to college because that was expected of me, not because I believed I had much more to learn. Would any teacher(s) in my several schools have had a chance of teaching me what I needed to find, to get on with “lifelong education.” Yes, there were two who were indeed helpful, but even they were timid...

    Why was there no one “out there”
    who could tell me “something, ” “anything” about IMAGINEERING? The tenor, bass, the alto, the baritone, the soprano-all the voices of those times seemed then and seem now, in flexion, to have been in horrifying harmony that I was an excellent student, yet they, all but two, had not really awakened in themselves, nor in me, the curiosity I had had to abandon in The Park...

    Graduation was ritualized with COMMENCEMENT, but the invisible imprint on the diploma held clauses explaining that while the twelve year sentence had been completed, I was now on probation. Parole officers expected most of us to join the work world. Some fifteen percent of us might seek some sort of postponing pardon by going to college or university, but we would still be forced to join “the labor force.” I think I remember some people explaining that the work world was a monstrous entity-or was it just enormous-where we were going to have to enter, to remain almost on life-sentences. And, we so lacked guidance that we sought any prison break we could, even to becoming ‘“trustees.” I told people I would major in Education, not because I wanted to mimic wardens but because it was the only career I knew about other than the Episcopal priesthood and I had no intention of following in the too worn paths of my Father, Grandfather, four Great-Uncles and Great-Grandfather. The quest for meaning, insight, foresight, identity, had to be better than the blandishments the Spartans were offering.

    I was taught, to learn the facts as well as the approved fictions of the curriculum, but I was not encouraged to believe that I could become an Imagineer and that I could become The United Nations Santa and that I would someday, one day, many days, be named THE UNITED NATIONS PHILOSOPHER! And no one would dare tell me or even hint that there are good reasons for not wanting to be 'The' UN Philosopher! I wanted and want to be 'a' UN philosopher. Why was I too young to meet The Grand Inquisitor when I was in high school? Why did “they” not want me to learn the price and privilege of freedom? Finally, in college, Don Quixote de la Mancha was introduced to me as a strange, deranged, minor noble from Spain, not as a marvelous mediaeval knight who dreamt possible dreams and not known nor imagined as the only friend who would eventually help me to earn my “donship.” Thoreau faithfully was and remains an elusive, hero friend and he never intended his life to represent heroism... It was his life and he led it to his purposes, not to mine... Maybe most of those teachers never developed friendships with Sidney Carton, Dostoyevski, Cervantes, Plato, Aristaphanes, Aristotle, Virgil, Dante, Thoreau, Marx, The Little Prince and his friend Antoine, Tom-both Jefferson and Paine, Tom and Huck and Jim, Dickens and Dickinson, Voltaire, Moliere, Locke, Burke, Kant, Lewis and Clark, Boone, Emerson, Frost, Whitman, Hawthorn, Shakespeare, Jonson, Boswell, Chaucer, Poe, Schweitzer, Aesop, the Grimms, Milne, Potter, Stevenson, and Marco Polo, Eric the Red, Gulliver, Veblen and Smith, Franklin, Dred and Francis Scott, Francis and Valentine, Galileo, Copernicus, Joseph and Sitting Bull, Sojourner Truth, Velveteen Rabbit, Homer, Euripides, Dorothy, Tin Man, Lion, Scarecrow, The Wizard of Oz, Stendahl, Emmet Kelly, Melville, Conrad, Gorky, Tolstoy, Shaw, Wilde, Candide, Pangloss, Thomas More, Pygmalion, Pinnoccio, Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, Grotius, Rabelais, Hobbes, Socrates, Santa Claus, Mr. Toad, Newton, Einstein, Gandhi, Buddha, Christ, Confucius, Mohammed, Machiavelli and The Prince, Tom Jones, Ahab, Tiny Tim, Mr. Pickwick, Peter Rabbit-who more clearly than any other being taught me to see on the other side of things-and many others, fellow traveler friends, who have helped me appreciate voyaging on Spaceship Earth.

    “Independently, ” early in the summer of l989, I was triply dubbed THE UN PHILOSOPHER! It was almost a premonition that the cold war was coming to an end... Yet, still and continuously there is little demand for stories about the UN, less about THE UN PHILOSOPHER! There is less than moderate interest in the story of the UN, there is scant attention paid or given freely to UN Civics-even our UN dues are grossly overdue. A Danish poet, not the ill-fated Prince of earlier poems and play, has suggested that 'We are global citizens, with tribal souls.' I am enthralled by how well this seems to describe most of humanity, yet I am simultaneously appalled that happier Piet (Piet Hein, l960) compared to unhappy Hamlet does not say as I would, 'We are global citizens with universal souls! '

    How, and when, and where,
    I learned long ago that a friend is a gift that one gives to oneself, I do not remember... I do remember learning many times that if we cannot love ourselves we will never be able to love our neighbors. With these ideals in mind, I am giving myself the privilege of a gift of time to record, in script and sound, my experiences and my interpretations of the experiences of others in The UN, not to convince you or him or her, or us or them that this is the way we need to live. No, I write to record for myself and for whomsoever wishes to share this account, the pilgrimage of a concerned, courteous, even kind and ever curious, almost modern spirit and almost also philosopher clown. I am a modestly trained and moderately experienced anthropologist measured with and never against the enormity of human diversity in more than 6000 cultures, as counted by professional colleagues. Yet, I would differ with them in their count and accountability and I would assert that “WE” are humanely diverse in six thousand, sixty thousand, sixty billion ways, yet we belong to only one culture. One would perhaps like to think and believe that we might learn to make the world safe from and safe for our diversity.

    When I recollect all the thoughts I have had on what in the world I want, I usually tell myself that I want a world that I understand but one which will also, always fill me with wonder. My planetary companions from all ages and places have not yet found a politically correct name for our globalizing culture. I find “it” virtually inexplicable, why so vast a number of the people I know and know about are so much more interested in “what was, ” and “what currently is, ” than they are interested in what we may all co-create to resolve a few, several or many of the most trying and traumatic conditions not just of many of our fellow human beings but also of other lifeforms. With my redheaded international servant, friend, Jefferson, I am more fascinated by studying the possibilities of the future than the history of the past. So, from and for “their” apathy, disinterest, inability or incertitude, I have opted, initially, optimist that I am, to “baptize” our global culture as GAIA CULTURE. I choose the name in membrance of the ancient Earth embracing and Earth responsible goddess of the Greeks, GAIA. Beyond that choice, I would suggest a “confirmation” with the surname, PLANETARY CULTURE. Am I acting wisely or just playing again with rites and rights and the sacred and the scared? I choose not to be guilty of prime causation... THE JURY IS STILL OUT! Might I find the humane rights I so long for, by presenting my case to The Planetary Crimes Commission?

    It is not altogether easy
    to be THE UN PHILOSOPHER! My brief experience with the responsibilities and response abilities of the position color me into a rainbow of actions and reactions. While Thoreau indicated that most (people) live lives of quiet desperation, I have never seen his statistical biases and I distrust his survey methodology. His sampling was Concordial, but his conclusions are cantankerous... Besides, he was far from being a notable student, at Harvard, though he did give a commencement address, in Latin...

    What I liked most about Roman History in my fifth grade year was that the emperors had the good sense and humor to provide bread and circuses to the citizens of Rome. I think that we need civic systems that combine circuses and clowns and concern. Most often when I tell anyone that I am The Philosopher of the United Nations, all they can perceive is that I am somehow or other offering another PUN. I do not help myself nor them very much with my timely tempo of telling about innumerable, capital PROGRAMS OF UNITED NATIONS STUDIES! PUNS! And, no one trusts, so much as I, my experimental pedagogy that we teach alphabets and values simply and simultaneously with such subtlety as shifting our spelling and spacing and sizing from unaware to U N AWARE! , unbelieving to UN BELIEVING! , uncaring to UN CARING! How much energy will we have to harness and free to move from uneducated to UN EDUCATED? Transition from unjust to UN JUST, truly tests more tolerance than I could find during the recent International Year for Tolerance(1995) . Alas, “unfair” and “unwanted” suffer or succeed similarly when I pull them apart in THE LEARNING CENTER (TLC) where I live, to reveal UN FAIR and UN WANTED! Be careful of TLC, it is not to be confused immediately with 'tlc, ” tender loving care, though I believe the two are irredeemably linked. I have similar fun and frustration 'being' and helping others be Santa. Our spelling is so rigid that I cannot convince even ardent UNANS that Santa's Elves are Santa Selves: One, long ago misplaced apostrophe has separated all of Our Santa’s Elves from Our Santa Selves!

    One of the greatest tragedies of us moderns is that most of us have either lost our senses or never come to all of them... I do not want to be simplistic but simplicity is frequently a virtue, even when a forgotten one. Simply, we need to learn how to use double the senses of sight, taste, touch, hearing and smell. Sensibly, sensitively, let us sense faith, hope, charity, humor and awe.

    Skeptics, some realists and realist skeptics, tell me that social change is slow in the human(e) experience, and I contend that that need not be the case. Literacy has increased remarkably in this century, perhaps tenfold. Health has increased so greatly that we expect to quadruple our human numbers from l.5 billion at the beginning of Our Century to some 6 billion when we enter the next millennium at midnight on December 31, l999. We have probably experienced the healthiest century in all time. If we can letter ourselves and care for ourselves so comprehensively in two arenas of our being, why cannot we extend our joy and numbers about Santa and other identities, by having all be Santas, philosophers and Clowns.

    HOW BAD DOES BAD HAVE TO BE
    BEFORE WE CONSIDER SOMETHING “BAD.”
    HOW GOOD DOES GOOD HAVE TO BE BEFORE WE BELIEVE “IT IS GOOD! ”

    Now, for almost sixteen years, a fourth of my Earth Time, I have lived on the 'outskirts' of what in l946 might have become UNOVILLE, capital of a brave New World Ordering, if the ardent citizens of Green Town had not proclaimed by a margin, wider than two to one, that they did not want to give, sell, lease or loan some beautiful back-country to be used as the capital of the post World War II society created to rid the world from the scourges of war, inequity, and lack of development. In all of our considerations of tribalism, we have yet to see the NIMBY and YIMBY resolve their differences, not in my backyard and “yes” in my backyard. -Perhaps, I also am an extra-terrestrial? -

    Life,
    my life, has been a long, short pilgrimage from a small community in Idaho, where I played with Nez Perce children, to Washington State where I pow-wowed with the Yakima. Then, with 'The War' I went to California where I found Chinese and Colored friends, to Arizona where Hispanics and Navaho classmates helped with my education-mostly away from teachers during “recess, ” and to Louisiana where the subtleties and unsubltleties of caste society scared me for awhile and scarred me for life. The American Century in the United States and in The World has been a formidable classroom in which to study The Unrealized American Dream. Schooling, education, work, worry, wonder, wit and wisdom-and great, good luck-carried me through most of the states of the United States and allowed me learning experiences in Mexico and Europe before I was prepared to undertake my first 'real' professional job in that not yet ravaged but already deeply troubled country of EL Salvador. I went to Central America in April l961, so short a space of time after the fiasco of the Bay of Pigs, seven days, one daze. Had I not spoken good Spanish-albeit colloquial Mexican lingo of the streets and byways-not the Castillian tongue of Don Quixote-and had I not already been a global person, perhaps the students in general or “my” students in particular would have been more than tempted to burn me, not just in effigy, but also “for real.” And work in El Salvador helped me learn to be real...

    Now, thirty-five years later, I should not jump over more than half a lifetime, but for the convenience of my story, I leap to January l, l992, my first day of retirement from being an international civil servant. Though I was first identified as THE UN PHILOSOPHER! on the 29th of May l989, I could not quickly adjust work and psyche to the new tasks which lay before me. I needed time and distance, new perspectives... appreciation of and some desdain for the UN bureaucracy and daily work. Recast, no longer obliged to commute an hour each way, daily, from the bucolic beauty of Racc Ridge to the awesome architecture of the Headquarters and challenges of the UN System, I undertook to measure all the dimensions of why I had committed so much to the UN and what I have learned there and elsewhere. In a new, special sphere of freedom, I grow in beauty as beauty grows in me. I spend parts of my days and seasons counting and caring for turtles, tulips, cardinals, crows, swans and skunks, heron and humfulumps, sharing life directly with them and many others: It has taken years, much listening, some talking and scribbling of alphabets, feeling dreams and doubts, and reworking wit and wisdom, to reach a base to be ready to transcribe notes and to construct, create, identify and imagine spiritual and mental arches, banisters, rainbows and relevance, to complete another process in my personal commitment... With each paragraphy, I invite compliment, controversy and conciliation. In closing this chapter, I am reminded how I saw questions of the future years ago in the pre-dawn desert winter eighty miles west of Frenchman’s Flats, when atomic blasts of light rent the peacefilled starry splendor of my universe. When will our vision of being humane flash as brightly as that horror I saw in the waning of my youthful years? I was only nineteen. Why does that question still seem so stark: a marvelous mirage worded by Dag Hammarskjold, suggests:
    “THERE IS NO PEACE, EXCEPT THAT OF THE SOUL.” (Report) Reply

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