by Berry Benson

I...A child, a boy, a man and a giant went out into the water. The child having gone as far as he could go, the boy went farther and said, I stand upon the bottom. But the child would not believe it. The man went still farther and said, I stand upon the bottom. But the boy would not believe it. Then the giant went farther yet, and said, I stand upon the bottom. But the man would not believe it.

Just beyond our own depth lies the inconceivable.

II...Nature, with closed eyes, seemingly unseeing, sees everything, and with the same rude, strong hand that shakes the foundations of the earth til the mountains totter and fall, she fashions and adorns the down upon the insects wing.

III...A great general was born. He was greater than Napoleon, or Caesar, or Alexander. He was born in a hut. He tended sheep. He ploughed in the field. On the Sabbath he sat upon a hard bench in the village church. Thus he lived. One day he came in from the fields and lay down. The next day they buried him in the potter's field.

He was a great general; greater than Napoleon, or Caesar, or Alexander.

IV...Two ploughed in a field. One ploughed straight, keeping his eyes upon the ground. No weeds grew, and he gathered great stores of corn. When he died his son inherited much land. He lived in comfort, and ploughed in his father's fields.

The other's furrows were not straight. At times he stopped to listen to the lark, or to admire a flower that grew upon a weed. He knew the names of the plants, and their times of flowering. He knew the names of the stars and their courses in the sky, and the times of their rising, also. He died, owning no goods, nor any lands. His son inherited his father's poverty.

The son inherited, also, his father's love of nature. And he became a great artist, whose name and fame spread abroad over two continents.

V...When I learned how the stars are grouped into clusters and constellations yet every star at an immeasurable distance from every other, I wondered and said: In all Nature there is nothing else like this.

But when I came to know men and women and children, when I saw how they are grouped in families and bound together by social ties, yet every one living at an immeasurable distance from every other, a world in himself, I said: This is like.

VI...A man set nests of eggs. Few being hatched, he went to his friend for sympathy. But his friend said ``You should not count your chickens before they are hatched'' Said the man,``It is only he who counts chickens before they are hatched, who sets eggs.''

VII...A sailor, having quitted the sea, and settled down to an inland life, was wont to tell his neighbors of the many strange lands, and strange peoples, and strange customs he had seen. All of which, being outside their own knowledge and experience, they touched their foreheads and winked.

Afterwards there came a man amongst them who had studied the stars. He told them how these stars were great worlds, and it could not reasonably be otherwise that in these strange worlds were other strange peoples with strange knowledge and strange customs. Again they touched their foreheads and winked.

And the sailor winked with the rest.

VIII...These three contended which was happiest - Sleep, and Waking, and Death.

Death said, I have no bad dreams.
Sleep said, I have good dreams.
Waking said, I am.

IX...A man sat reading a book. What he thought he read was this : Two quantities which constantly tend toward equality while the hypothesis approaches its ultimate form, and of which the difference, in the course of approach, becomes less than any finite magnitude, are ultimately equal.

But what he really read was this : Serphina, - Seraphina, - Seraphina, - Seraphina.

X...A wise man flew a kite into the sky, high, high. And he said, I will fly it into heaven. And he said, the kite is the soul, and the cord is life and it is the cord that holds the kite to the earth. and he said, When the cord is all played out it will break, and the soul will mount into heaven.

And the cord played out, and it broke, and the kite and the cord both came back to the earth.

Is it so sure, after all, that we shall quit life and the earth?

XI...As a man walked in the road he met Death. Said Death, Whither do you go? Said the man, I go to meet Life. Said Death, Then go no further, we have met.

XII...A man stood upon a height and looked back over the way he had come. And he said : I have reached the top of the hill. My youth lies all behind me. Never again may I know the ardent joys of the morning of life. Henceforth I go down through the shadow, into that valley where all is darkness and horror, forever and forever. And he went down to the bottom of the hill, his white hair damp with the mists of the twilight. Then he lay down and slept.

And he woke refreshed, with the smile of childhood on his lips, and the sunlight tangled in his yellow curls. Laughing and romping, rejoicing in the perfume of the flowers and the singing of the birds, he began to climb the next hill.

XIII...A boy read tales of the sea. And he said, ``When I am a man I will quit the plough: I will sail up and down the high seas, north and south and east and west; I will visit all the lands of the earth.''

But when he was a man there were those for whom he must care, and he must needs wait. And so, day after day, year after year, till he was old, and bent, and gray, between the two handles of his plough, over and over he trudged his narrow field, still sailing up and down the high seas, north and south and east and west, visiting all the lands of the earth.

XIV... Sayest thou that this man played but an ill part in the world's history?That his life was a failure?

Nay, but as all men, he worked God's will; every deed was achievement; every outcome success.

XV... A Weaver sat at his loom, weaving a web, shining, harmonious, beautiful.

And there came those who knelt down, and clasped their hands, and cried: Lord, weave not in these strands of red, these threads of black, but do Thou, Lord, for us this other thing.

And the hands of the Weaver paused not, but swiftly wove the web, streaked with red, shaded with black, shining, harmonious, beautiful.

XVI...A boy went to school. He was very little. All that he knew he had drawn in with his mother's milk. His teacher (who was God) placed him in the lowest class, and gave him these lessons to learn : Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt do no hurt to any living thing. Thou shalt not steal. So the man did not kill; but he was cruel, and he stole . At the end of the day (when his beard was grey , when the night was come), his teacher, (who was God) said : Thou hast learned not to kill. But the other lessons thou hast not learned. Come back tomorrow.

On the morrow he came back, a little boy. And his teacher (who was God) placed him in a class a little higher, and gave him these lessons to learn : Thou shalt do no hurt to any living thing. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not cheat. So the man did no hurt to any living thing, but he stole, and he cheated. And at the end of the day (when his beard was grey, when the night was come), his teacher (who was God) said : Thou hast learned to be merciful : but the other lessons thou hast not learned. Come back tomorrow.

Again, on the morrow he came back, a little boy, and his teacher (who was God) put him in a class yet a little higher, and gave him these lessons to learn : Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not cheat. Thou shalt not covet. So the man did not steal ; but he cheated, and he coveted. And at the end of the day (when his beard was grey, - when the night was come), his teacher (who was God) said : Thou hast learned not to steal ; but the other lessons thou hast not learned. Come back, my child, tomorrow.

This is what I have read in the faces of men and women, in the book of the world, and in the scroll of the heavens which is writ with stars.

XVII... A man said, Whatever is is right; let things be. But his friend said, Whatever will be is also right ; let us make a change for the better.

XVIII... A man found fault with the world, - the way it was made, and the way it was managed. Amongst the rest, he said that his nose was too long. And, to mend matters, he cut off the tip of it. But now, finding his nose too short, he bewailed to a friend that he could not again make it longer. Said his friend, It is much easier to find fault than it is to make either a world or a nose.

XIX... Not all the combined thought and effort of all the men in the world can stay the earth in it's orbit the millionth part of a second, or turn it aside from it's course the millionth part of an inch.

XX... A man played at make believe. He drew a circle upon the ground, and said : This is a magic circle; everything inside this circle is a miracle.

He did not know that everything outside of it is a miracle, also.

XXI... A child brought me a pebble, round and smooth and white. What a wonderful thing! He said. Wonderful? I said, there are millions and millions of things like that. Then, said he, there are millions and millions of wonderful things.

XXII... A puppet was pulled by a string. And as he was moved this way or that, he thought it was his own mind that moved him, and he was puffed up with pride at his own wisdom.

But all the time it was the string.

XXIII... A man complained that life for him had had may troubles. One day he went out for a walk. His way was along a road which for miles was smooth and even. But the smoothness and evenness grew monotonous and wearisome, and when, at length, he came to an uphill road, rough and rocky, he said, ah, this is something like ; now I shall encounter something. And he took that road.

XXIV... He who tries and fails, fails not as he who never tried.

XXV... Through fear of being laughed at, a man refrained from doing a certain thing which he believed to be right and wise to do. And when it came to be known that he had so refrained through fear of being laughed at, he was laughed at.

XXVI...A man found a wounded bird, its wings were sound again. Then the bird pleaded that he would release it, that it might fly. But the man said, ``No ; I found you ; you are mine ; you could never have flown had I not restored the strength to your wings. ''

But, said the bird, did you make my wings?

XXVII... In a far country the king's person was sacred. Revolutions might come, new men and new parties might come to power, but none could lay a finger upon him, or make him less a king. But none gave heed to his counsel. he was fed, and clothed, and cared for as a child; others ruled the state.

But a certain prince came to the throne who chafed at this. He would rule. He gave counsel that was not heeded ; he gave commands that were not obeyed. At length there came a time of trouble, when the people armed in revolt. The king stood at his window and watched the crowds, and the tumult, and the rallyings. And when night came he stole out of his palace in disguise and joined himself as a common soldier to the side where his heart was, and he fought the next day in a battle. And in the midst of the battle an arrow pierced his breast, and he fell, wounded to death. And they found him lying on the ground, dying, and the great men lifted him tenderly, and chided him for his rash deed. But he rebuked them, and said, ``I have lived a puppet and a slave ; but I die a king !''

XXVIII... God came to my door and begged. I railed at him, bidding him go and work.

XXIX... A man, walking with his friend in a frequented path, dropped a coin, and his friend began to look for it. But the man said: ``Do not search for it; some child will be more glad in its finding, than I am sorry in losing it.''

XXX... A man went to the court. When he came back his neighbors asked ; Did you see the King? Did you see the Queen? Did you see the Prince and the Princess? Did you see the duke and the duchess? But he said, I saw only men and women.

XXXI... Once, a man heard of a woman who had many lovers. And he said, Surely she is beautiful, and witty, and wise ; I must know that woman. But when he had met her and talked with her, he said, Such fools men be : She is not handsome, nor witty, nor wise. And the next day he thought of her still. And he became vexed with himself for thinking of her, and he said, I will cease to think of her. And he thought of her all the more. Then he said, I will see her again, and talk with her, and know of a truth if she be handsome, or witty, or wise. And he went. And he said, Of a truth she is not handsome, nor witty, nor wise. And he went on thinking about her as before. And at the end of a month, when he had been at her feet now the fourth time, he went and hanged himself with a rope.

XXXII... A man loved a woman, but knew not how to make love. Another loved not the woman, nor any one but himself, but he knew how to make love. And the woman loved him. But he, the one, was happy in his own love, though unrequited ; while he, the other, was miserable in his incapacity for love.

XXXIII... I heard a man say : God is great, infinitely great ; let me show you what He is like. And he began to paint. And he painted outlines and limitations to represent Infinity. He painted with words.

XXXIV... With all the ease with which the juggler keeps his four balls in the air, God keeps his innumerable worlds moving in their orbits in the sky.

XXXV...Betwixt two flowery fields a stile is;
And whether it turn one way that men call birth,
Or whether it turn one way that men call death,
What matters it?
Betwixt two flowery fields a stile is.

XXXVI... We array our men on the board, our king and our queen, our bishops and our knights and our rooks ; we plan a bold and sure campaign ; bravely we charge down the open lanes ; we pride ourselves on our skill in the game, and we plume ourselves for victory. Then silently comes fate, moves but one place on the board a pawn we had held in contempt, and calls ``checkmate!''

XXXVII... A wild bird came and sat in my hand. I said, Bird, how do you know but I will close my hand and hold you ? Said the bird, because you have asked me how do I know.

XXXVIII... A man who was in need came to his friend for the gift of a coat. But, said his friend, my coat will not fit you. That, said the man, is not necessary ; I will fit the coat.

XXXIX... A man said to his servants, Cut down this clump of weeds ; they are ugly ; they offend my sight. Then he went upon a journey. And he came into a barren place - a great desert - through which he travelled a weary time without seeing any green thing. Then suddenly he came upon a pool of water, and at its edge grew a clump of the same weeds that grew at home. And the man knelt down, and took them lovingly in his arms, and stroked them softly with his hands, and kissed their rough leaves.

XL... I came with God to a place where the heathen were. And they bowed themselves down to images of wood and stone, and worshipped them. And I looked to see God slay them in wrath. And he smote them not, but brought rain upon their fields and bounteous crops. And I said to God, Why hast Thou not slain these wicked men? But God said, These are not wicked ; they are searching after Me ; they will find me.

XLI... The ant complained to his Maker : To the beetle Thou hast given flight ; to the butterfly, wings and splendor ; to the bird, pinions and beauty and song ; whilst I, wingless, songless, unbeautiful, creep upon the ground.

God answered and said : To thee have I given more than to all these, beetle or butterfly, or bird : Thee I have endowed with industry.

XLII... In a certain country there was a law which forbade a man to kiss his wife on the Sabbath. For violation of this law (and others of equal wisdom) a potter had suffered both fine and imprisonment. It happened after that, when the potter was at work at his wheel, there came to him one of the lawmakers who complained that some of the potter's ware which he had bought had too easily broken. If I were a potter, said the lawmaker, I would make ware which would not be so easily broken. And if I were a lawmaker, said the potter, I would make laws which would not be so easily broken.

XLIII... A man loved music. He was fond of singing, and he sang every day. It chanced, upon a time, that a bird perched by his window, and sang. It came again the next day, and the next. The man was pleased with its singing, and desired to possess it. So, setting a snare, he caught the bird, and placed it in a fine cage. But the bird sang no more. At this the man wondered, and he tempted it with dainty food. But the bird sang no more. And the man wondered.

Now it came to pass after that, that the man was seized and thrown into prison. He lay upon a soft bed ; and he had good food and plenty. But he sang no more. And he said, Now I know why my bird did not sing.

XLIV... A child said to me : A wonderful thing will happen tomorrow. I said, What? He said : Tomorrow !

XLV... A woman asked the gift of seeing things as they are, and of hearing the truth. The gift was granted her. Then, looking upon the feathers that she wore, she heard the flutter of wings, and she saw birds lying dead, with blood on their bosoms ; and birds lying with broken wings, gasping with pain and perishing for water. And she saw men tear the wings from living birds, that they might sell them to adorn the dress of women. These were God's birds.

Looking upon her furs, she saw beautiful animals caught in traps, the bones of their feet crushed and broken ; - she heard their cries. She saw one gnawing his own flesh to escape. She saw men with clubs, heavy and clotted with blood, beating seals to death with blows upon their heads. She heard the blows. And she heard their cries and moans, that sounded like the moans and cries of children! And she heard a voice that came from afar off : As ye have done unto these, the least of my children, even so have ye done unto Me.

XLVI... Every day, from the time he was a boy, a man walked alone in a quiet place, and thought. And he doubted not it was the same man who had walked there for so many years. But at length he came to know that the same man had not walked there twice.

XLVII... Death came to a door and knocked. Seeing it was Death, they barred the door. But death broke down the door and entered, taking away whom he would.

Death came again to a door, and knocked. Seeing it was death, they opened wide the door, and welcomed him. At this, Death turned and went, saying, Who desires me I desire not.

XLVIII... A child whirled a lighted stick in the dark. As the sparks fell he cried : See the stars I have made !

God whirled His finger in the dark. As the stars of the milky way sprang into being, he said : Lo, the sparks from my workshop !

XLIX... Do you wish me to show you something that is beautiful ? First show me something that is not beautiful.

Do you wish me to tell you of something that is wonderful? First tell me of something that is not wonderful.

L... A man journeyed into a far country where he found the people to be much wiser than his own people. On his return home he so related. But this greatly offended his own people, and they reviled him, and cast stones at him.

Then a second traveller went, and brought back the same report. And him they threw into prison.

Then a third traveller went, who came back saying these foreign people were greatly superior in all ways. Him they hanged.

Then they chose one to go and report truly, giving him much money wherewith to travel. He pretended to go, be he abode secretly in his own house, and ate and drank. And after a time he appeared in the streets, and declared that the three travellers were all liars, and that those foreigners were as barbarians. Whereat they applauded, and gave him much honor, and made him one of their chief rulers.

LI... A man loved a woman, but she laughed at him. Then, through grief, he became ill, and was to die in very despair of her love. Whereat, pity touched her heart, and pity grew to love. When he came to know this, having now the love he had so yearned to possess, he rejoiced greatly, and arose from his bed.

And straightaway he began to love another woman.

LII... A boy feared Death, but said he would outrun him in the race. So he ran swift and long. Death was nowhere to be seen.

The boy became a man. He ran swifter and stronger. Death followed on, far behind.

The man grew old. He ran slowly, and with pain. Looking back, he saw Death pursuing with steady pace, and gaining every day. Wearied, at length, with the race, he lay down, to await and welcome his best friend, Death.

LIII... Because it has always been, therefore it will not always be : the one thing that is sure is change.

LIV... A man took part in theatricals. He played the part of a fool. His acting was the hit of the night.

After the play was over, he played the same role to a woman, greatly to her amusement.

LV... To a man were given two seeds. One he planted in the sand, and for lack of nutriment it grew a withered life, and bore no bloom, nor any good thing. The other he planted in rich ground, and it flourished greatly, and bore beautiful flowers and luscious fruit. And the man said, Blood will tell. He did not know that they came both from the same pod.

LVI... A woodcutter gathered fagots for a fire. In that which he gathered, a spider had woven his web, which thus became broken. As the woodcutter bore the fagots to the fire the spider plied industriously back and forth, mending his broken web.

LVII... A Sermon. - In the fields, under a tree, a bird lying dead, all bloody and alone.

Above, in the tree, birds fluttering and twittering, enjoying sweet life to its full.

That is my text and sermon.

LVIII... The king walked in his garden with one of his courtiers. A toad coming in the way, the courtier crushed it with his foot. That was a wicked deed, said the king. Said the courtier, It is only a toad. You are wrong, said the king, It is a toad.

LIX... We think of ourselves as the population of the earth,- but what about the ants?

LX... A man sat for his picture. When the picture was made, he said, This is not like me. But the picture maker and all the man's friends contended that it was an exact likeness. Not long after he overheard a talk in which someone was being reviled and ridiculed. And he was greatly amused; but soon it came to his ears that it was himself of whom the talk had been. Then he said, This makes twice I did not know my own picture.

LXI... A man walked six miles to see a great tree. His friend laughed at him. Said he, I have a larger tree in my own yard. Said the man, But you have not the six miles.



The captured bird is sweet, but sweeter the bird that flies,
And the sweetest voice of the lark is his song from the highest skies.
The fish from the nets are good, but the best remain in the sea, -
If fickle the woman you love, what woman so fair as she ?

LXIII... A mouse saw his shadow on the wall. Said he, I am larger than an elephant ; I will go forth and conquer the world. At that moment he espied a cat. In the next he had slipped through a hole in the wall.

My soul passes down and along the great hallway of Time,
Stepping here and there into niches to rest,
To admire and wonder at the passers-by and the shifting scenes.
And the stepping out of a niche, it is called Birth,
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 are free.

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 been.

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, but tomorrow!

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 blew, 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 and discontent.

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 means tomorrow.''

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 things.

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 line.

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 go thither?

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 was.

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 fabulous tale.

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 soldiers.

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 real self.

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 fishing.

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 - 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 Wilderness,
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, of 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 hungry.

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 the water.

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 his again.

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 condition.

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 not heard.

Then he was sore distressed, and said, It is better to walk than to fly.

CXXXIX... A man loved a woman, and she loved him. He was not handsome, but ill-favored, and he wished to become handsome, that he might hold her love. So he bathed in a certain fountain, which made him exceedingly handsome. But the woman, seeing him other than the man she had known and loved, loved him no more, and grieved ever after for the man she had loved.

CXL... A woman wished that she were a man, and not a woman. But how could anyone be a man, and not also a woman?

CXLI...Two times two are four, I know that ; but what I know more than that is very little.

CXLII... A child of great faith heard the preacher read : Cast thy bread upon the waters, and after many days it will return unto thee. So that day he wrapped the bread for his dinner securely in a cloth, dipped it in pitch to protect it from the wet, and cast it into the river. Soon it had floated far out of sight.

Now, every day he came again to the river to watch for its return, but it came not. And all the people laughed at him, and the Preacher explained to him that it was an allegory. But he said, My bread will return.

After many days there came a great wind, and a strong up tide from the sea, and lo, there came floating on the tide the bread he had cast in the stream. And amongst the pebbles embedded in the pitch, the gathering of some distant beach, was a gem of great value.

CXLIII... A man who had done a great amount of useful work in the world was asked how it was he had been able to do so much.

Said he, it is because we two have always agreed.

You two ? it was asked ; Which two?

Said the man, Me and Myself.

CXLIV... How wonderful it is that God knows every world in the universe; its every foot of surface, land or water ; its every cubic inch of rock and fire, to its inmost core ; its revolutions and its orbits ; knows its every plant and animal and human being, and all the histories of each, past and future ; knows whence they came, whither they go, and why ; - how wonderful it is!

CXLV... A long time ago a man came to his friend and whispered in his ear; I have a thought. - What is the thought? asked his friend. Said the man : I have thought the curious thought of the earth being round like a globe, instead of being flat as we know it to be. - That is a queer thought, said his friend,n - the oddity of it will amuse people; let us spread it far and wide. Not so, said the man, - we must not lead men astray, but teach only the truth. Now there are minds, curious and inquisitive, ever ready to grasp at any new thought and explore it, however absurd it be. So, lest we lead these into false belief, and give wings to untruth, we will strangle this thought in its birth, and bury it deep.

And so they did.

CXLVI... A microscopical insect, being beset by parasites, came out from his den in the crevice of a pebble, and spent many days exploring its surface. When he returned, he said, this is indeed a great world.

The pebble was a meteor that fell from the uttermost sky millions of years before. Where are the ends of the universe? Are there any?

CXLVII... A man who had suffered ill, through the laws of the king, came to the king to plead for justice. ``Remember, O king,'' said the man, ``that, lowly as I am, I am thy brother.'' Then the man's dog, whom he, too, had ill treated, said to him, ``Remember, O master, that I also am thy brother.''

CXLVIII... A bird that was fifty feet high caught a man and put him in a cage. The man pleaded for his liberty, but the bird would not listen. At length, said the man : Do you think that it is right to keep me imprisoned? Bless my life! said the dird, but that is the silliest thing that I ever heard.

CXLIX... There was once a race of blind men. They knew nothing of sight, nor had they ever heard aught of seeing. But it came to pass that one was born who could see. And he told them how he saw things which they were able in no manner to perceive. But they believed him not. And the wise ones put their heads together, and said. It is imagination ; his brain is diseased ; we will cure him. So they gave him a drug which affected his sight, and he became blind like the rest.

Said the wise men : We told you so.

CL... A man heard the voice of one speaking harshly to his wife. And his blood boiled and he clenched his fists and said, Who is this that dares to speak harshly to my wife? But when he had listened awhile he knew it was his own voice coming to him out of the past.

CLI... A woman said to Love, ``What is this dark shadow that always follows thee?'' Said Love, ``It is Grief.''

CLII... Duty said to Love, ``Get thee behind me.'' Love laughed. Later, came one who slew.

CLIII... A man loved a woman, and he said to her, ``whenever you see the sun shine bright and warm, remember that it is like my love for you.'' So all the summer the sun shone bright and warm, and every day she said, ``That is the way that he loves me.'' But winter came, and the sun did not shine. Snow fell, covering and hiding all the fields, and the earth, wide and everywhere. Then she said to him, ``Now you have forgotten to love me.'' But he said, Nay, my love is like the snow, white and pure, and clean; shutting out all things else.''

CLIV... A man travelled many years, visiting all parts of the earth. When he returned home his friends crowded around him and asked him to tell them the most wonderful thing he had seen.

Stooping, he plucked a spear of grass that grew from its seed, and, holding it up, he said, Not anywhere, nor at any time, have I seen anything more wonderful than this!

CLV... A man, being in a strange city, bought a map as a guide. Wishing to go to a distant point, he spread the map before him, the north toward the south, and the east toward the west. Turn the map, said his friend, as the city lies; it will be easier to understand. Said the man, That is childish, and not at all necessary to one endowed with brains.

After trudging two miles in the contrary direction, the man spread the map by his friend's advice, and trudged back.


On the March

Not as of old
In crowded ranks,
With tramp of feet,
In time with the drums,
Now do we march.

But one by one,
With muffled step,
Filing away,
Into the silence,
Into the dark.

CLVII... ``If!'' - Yes, If: But If is as solid as the granite foundation of the globe.

CLVIII... Two came together from the ends of the world. How narrow the world is! Two of one heart and mind lived near together all their lives and never met. How wide the world is!

CLIX... This is your lucky day. You may not think it now, or when it is past, or ever, but it is your lucky day.

CLX... A miner, after years of hard labor and poor luck, made a good find, and became suddenly rich. Possessed now of abundant means, he planned to have a good time, and to make up for the past. And he thought out his plan.

In the first place, said he, I have drunk too much liquor; I will never drink another drop.

In the next place, said he, I am ignorant; I must educate myself.

In the third place, said he, I am not a gentleman: I must learn good manners.

So he employed two men at good pay; the one a scholar, to educate him in books and all the knowledge of the world; the other man well versed in the ways of society, to guide him into right behaviour, and to correct him when he went wrong. These he kept habitually with him, obeying meekly and patiently their every command, and nod, and gesture, and hint, and receiving their correction and rebukes with thanks.

In three years time he, a rude and ignorant boor, was a fine scholar and a finished gentleman.

CLXI... Crowds flocked to the theatre, from town and country, paying a great price to hear a famous singer sing. And whilst he sang, none had any thought but of him and his splendid voice.

But all the time the singer was singing he was thinking of another singer. Ans as soon as the concert was over, he fled from the theatre and the city, to hear the nightingale sing.

CLXII... The water flowed downhill and made brooks, and rivers, and the sea. Such wisdom have I, said the water, never to flow uphill!

CLXIII... A man called from his window to his neighbor across the way, What means the red light in the street?

Red light? answered the neighbor; that is not red; it is blue.

Thou color blind! retorted the man, I swear it is red.

Whereat they fell to wrangling, and to wagering their money, and their houses, and all their goods, and their heads. But a passer by, coming thence, they appealed to him.

Said he, The light is not red or blue, it is a white light in a lantern of red and blue glass.

CLXIV... A rose tree grieved because all its flowers had fallen. But the ground below was a carpet of rose-leaves.


Once we go to see two wed,
Twice we go to see them dead.

CLXVI... A man taught a woman to play at a game that he knew. The game was love. But after he taught her, he never won a game.

CLXVII... A man found a broomsedge growing in his field. Said he, This is a sign of poor land; I will not have my land poor. So he went and dug up the broomsedge.

CLXVIII... A boy sat at his desk at school. He heard the drums beat in the street; he heard the call to arms. That day, for the first time, he did not know his lesson. The next day he heard the drums beat; he heard the bugles blow; he heard the call to arms. He could not study; he was in disgrace. The next day he heard the drums beat, the bugles blow; he heard the tramp of marching men; he saw a flag, bright and new, sway up and down, in time with the march. He left his books in his desk, and went home. Father, I must go to the war; I must help in the fight. - You! said his father; you are a boy, - the war is for men. - Father, I must follow the flag!

On a steep and barren hillside the sun shone hot through clouds of smoke and dust. Cannons boomed; rifles volleyed in ceaseless roar, like the falling of rivers. Everywhere were broken ranks, everywhere the shouting of the captains, Close up! - Close up! - Forward! - Forward! Old men lay on their backs, their white beards splotched with grime and powder; young men lay with smooth, upturned faces, staring with unblinking eyes at the sun. Clutching the broken staff of a tattered banner, stained deep with his blood, a boy lay dead.

CLXIX... I saw cattle standing in a pool, and fouling the stream from which they must themselves drink, and I said: Even cattle should have more wisdom.

Afterward, I saw men fouling the stream from which they themselves drank.

CLXX... Said a woman, I am the greatest fool in the world.

She had never met a man.

CLXXI... I suceed; I am elated; I deem myself great; but Nature does not me so consider.

I fail; I am in despair; I deem myself very small; but Nature does not me so consider.

CLXII... A man was unhappy. Night after night he saw a star in the sky, shining bright and clear, and he wished to go there. For in that pure world, said he, unhappiness is surely unknown.

At length, in answer to his prayer, a spirit came, and carried him to the star. There he found the people unhappy. He asked them why. They pointed to a star in the sky, shining bright and clear, and said, Because we desire to go to that pure and happy world. It was the world he had left.

Matthew vii:14

CLXXIII... I my dream I came to a wide and deep river, rushing madly amongst rocks and dashing against them. And I must needs cross over.

So I sought a place that might be less wide, less deep, where my first footings might be safer.

But when I had found such a place and was about to enter, I heard a voice crying out to me: That is not the way! Go through the deep water.

CLXXV... Out of clay God fashioned an ape. And the angels wondered and said, Why hast thou made so ugly and so foolish a thing?

But God said, Wait.

Then, while the generations sped along the track of Eternity, He molded his nose thinner. He pushed back his jaw. He spread his eyes further apart. He lifted his paws from the ground.

And as the generations sped, He stood him upright. He brushed the hair from his body. He gave him an apron to wear. He bleached his skin. He lit the light of intellect in his eyes.

And He stood him at the throttle of a locomotive, and with thunder and the clang of iron on iron Man rushed through the night and into the dawn.

Berry Benson was born on November 9, 1843 in North Augusta, South Carolina. He joined the Confederate Army as a volunteer at 17, was a scout for General Robert E. Lee, and was intentionally captured with the mission of obtaining certain information and then escaping. He and eleven others engineered a tunnel escape from Elmira prison in New York, and travelling alone, made his way south again, behind enemy lines without being recaptured. His war diary (minus the more interesting pholosophical ruminations) was published posthumously in 1960. A statue of him on a fifty foot pedestal sits in the center of Augusta, Georgia, surrounded at its base by the statues of four famous Confederate generals.

Berry was by profession a bookkeeper and accountant, and devised a ``zero system'' of checking calculations, which he sold nationwide to bookkeepers for ten dollars and a pledge of secrecy. He also won a prize of two thousand dollars in a calculational contest. He supported several strikes against the local mills.

At fifty years of age, he became a moral vegetarian, theosophist and pacifist. He would not step on an ant, was against hunting and fishing, and was followed in this by three of his daughters, who never married, writing for the animal cause and teaching violin in North Augusta.

Much to the consternation of the local ministers, Berry used to take fifty or so youngsters out for a nature walk ``to get closer to God'' on Sunday mornings during church services. Many of the above Outlines were published in the old Century Magazine between the years 1895 and 1900.