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RE: [bn-study] Meeting Death.

Oct 06, 2004 08:17 PM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck

Oct 5, 2004

Dear Ana:

Here is an inspiring verse that I heard and learned as a young person and
have always treasured.



I hold that when a person dies
His soul returns again to earth;

Arrayed in some new flesh-disguise
Another mother gives him birth.

With sturdier limbs and brighter brain
The old soul takes the roads again.

* * * *

And I shall know, in angry words,
In gibes, and mocks, and many a tear,

A carrion flock of homing-birds,
The gibes and scorns I uttered here.

The brave word that I failed to speak 
Will brand me dastard on the cheek.

And as I wander on the roads
I shall be helped and healed and blessed;

Dear word-s shall cheer and be as goads
To urge to heights before unguessed.

My road shall be the road I made;
All that I gave shall be repaid.

So shall I fight, so shall I tread,
In this long war beneath the stars; 

So shall a glory wreathe my head,
So shall I faint and show the scars, 

Until this case, this clogging mould,
Be smithied all to kingly gold.

(From John Masefield's "A Creed")


Here is another vital statement:


I stopped short; I flung down the book. "It is a lie," I cried bitterly, "a
cruel, hateful lie," I almost shouted, - and the whole class stared at me in

A strange outburst was that for the dingy, drowsy Greek-room of the
little New England college. I was as much surprised as any; I stood confused
at myself. For then it was that I remembered.

The passage which I was translating seemed innocent enough-to all the
rest. We were reading at sight - the professor's particular hobby; and he
was exploiting upon us the Twelfth Oration of Lysias.

But I had been paying scant attention to what they were reading. Greek
was easy to me always, and the halting drone with which they turned the
sweet Attic into their class-room jargon wearied my ears. And my thoughts
had drifted far away into I know not what regions of day-dreams, under a
bright sky buttressed on purple hills, when I heard the incisive voice of
the professor:

"Leonard, you may read now, beginning with the seventy-eighth section."
It cut through the mists of cloud land like the flash of a searchlight.

I started to my feet, found the place and began:

"'And although he has been the author of all these and still other
disasters and disgraces, both old and new, both small and great, some dare
to profess themselves his friends; al though it was not for the people that
Theramenes died, but because of his own villainy-'Then I choked and stopped.
Tears swam in my eyes, and a hot flash scalded my cheeks. For in that
instant first I understood; and in that instant it seemed to me that they
all understood.

But the professor, rather mortified at my unwonted hesitation, began to

"Go on, Leonard, - go on, it is not so hard- 'and no less justly would he
have died under the democracy, which he twice enslaved' - why, Leonard!".

"It is a lie," I burst forth. "A cruel, hateful lie." Those words which
he uttered so calmly had stung me like the lashes of a scourge, - so
malignant, so artful, so utterly unjust. And the whole world had read
them-this had been believed for centuries, with none to contradict!

"To say it when a man was dead !" I went on. "And Lysias! for Lysias to
say it!" I had quite forgotten the class; I saw only the foppish, waspish
little orator, declaiming before the people with studied passion and hot
indignation well memorized. But the people had never accepted it They knew
me better. . .

"They would not listen to such as Lysias; they would make an uproar and
rise from the benches. How dared that alien accuse the best blood of
Athens!" Yet I could scarcely have told you why I said it.

My classmates were too much astonished to laugh. The professor laid down
his book; mine I flung on the floor. My blood was boiling; my soul a tumult.

"What does this mean, Leonard?" I heard the voice; I could not clearly see
the speaker.

"I will not read it-I will not read another line," I cried. .

For the past had opened like a darkness lightning-cleft; all in one moment I
felt the injustices of ages; the shame of an aeon of scorn-and they asked me
to read against my self the lying record. I would die again sooner than read
it. I could not realize that they did not comprehend.

It was not often that Professor Lalor was at a loss for words, but there was
a long pause before he spoke.

"Young man," he said slowly, "I always like my students to manifest a living
interest in what they read, and this trait I have especially commended in
you heretofore. But there is measure, Leonard, in all things, as the Greeks
themselves have taught us; and this exceeds- this certainly exceeds. One
would fancy you contemporary authority." . .

Again I had choked, but anger gave me back my speech.

"Lysias an authority!" I exclaimed. "Lysias !"

My sight had cleared. The class sat quiet, startled out of their laughter;
the professor looked pained and puzzled.

"There is a degree of truth in what you seem to imply," he said. "It may
be conceded that Lysias was somewhat lacking in the judicial quality. And as
to Theramenes, Aristotle has expressed a very different estimate of him. Yet

"He was no better than a sycophant," I broke in.

"Go to your room, Leonard. You forget yourself." But the truth was, I had
remembered myself.

After that they nicknamed me Theramenes: I was nicknamed after myself,
and none suspected.


Here are some more illustrations:


Mozart composed minuets before he was four years old. Beethoven gave
successful concerts before he was eight, and published com positions when he
was ten. Chopin played in public before he was nine. Mendelssohn was already
famous at twelve, while Brahms ex cited attention from babyhood. Richard
Strauss was a successful composer at six, while Samuel Wesley was an
organist at three and composed an oratorio at eight.

* * * *

Ruth Slenczynski-a child of eight years- was acclaimed in New York City in
1933 for her piano recital of Bach, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Chopin. She
came simple and smiling upon the stage, but when she sat down to play, her
appearance was that of a mature woman in a child's body. One was forced to
realize that only the Soul present could so command the nature and body.

* * * *

"Blind Tom" was a negro born in slavery on a Georgia plantation in 1849. Not
only was he born blind but he was so nearly a congenital idiot that it was
almost impossible to teach him to talk or to perform the simplest tasks. By
the time he was ten years old he had been drilled into "tending door"-his
sole accomplishment. In those days the kitchen was in a separate cabin
immediately back of the mansion-house dining room. Slaves would run back and
forth between kitchen and dining room at meal time and it was Blind Tom's
task to open the swinging door for them. 

One day a young lady guest played some highly technical numbers just before
lunch. After lunch eon the company scattered for various amusements. It
happened that the young lady re turned to the deserted dining room for some
forgotten article and was astonished to hear the piano resounding with the
music she had played an hour or two before. 

Peeping into the music room she beheld Blind Tom, oblivious to all but the
magic sounds his flying fingers were conjuring from the instrument. Within a
year Mr. Bethune, Tom's "owner," was exhibiting him to large audiences in
New York City - to his own profit and to the world's incredulous admiration.

* * * *

Christian Heinrich Heinecken was born in Denmark in 1721. At ten months of
age he could converse as freely and intelligently as an adult. By the time
he was a year old he knew the Pentateuch practically by heart-knew it not
only in a memorial sense, but understood it as well as his elders who read
and told the Old Testament stories to him. By the end of his second year he
was as well versed in sacred history as those who taught him, had decided
opinions on the many moot theological questions of the time, and could hold
his own in discussion with the numerous learned divinity men who sought him
out for the sake of what they could learn from him. At three years of age he
was as much of a marvel in geography and in world history as the greatest
travelers and university professors. He was by this time proficient in
German as well as Danish, and could talk well in French and Latin. His
parents' home became a kind of place of pilgrimage to which men and women of
standing and repute from many distant places came with reverence and respect
to meet and consult with this phenomenal babe. The child died at a little
over four years of age.

* * * *

Horace Greeley, the famous American newspaper editor, was the third child of
parents who wrestled for a meager existence on a stony hillside Vermont
farm. Horace was weak, sickly, and from the first uninterested in the things
that attract and amuse babies. That he learned to read before he could talk
in other than "baby language" is told by more than one biographer. 

His own mother related that she observed before he was two years old how he
seemed fascinated to see his father reading from a paper. Overburdened with
family duties, it occurred to her to give him an old newspaper to play with
while she was absent from the room. 

Coming into the house one day she started toward the door of the room in
which she had left Horace. Astonished to hear a voice speaking as an adult
might, and thinking some visitor must have entered during her absence, she
paused by the door and looked in. Horace was reading aloud from the sheet
before him! No one had ever taught him even his A B C's.

* * * *
William Henry West Betty was born in England in 1791. He appeared on the
stage at the age of eleven in adult parts, and at twelve he was playing
Shakesperian roles in London to overcrowded houses. It is of record that the
English Parliament actually adjourned on one occasion so that its members
might attend a performance in which this precocious youngster played the
role of Hamlet.

* * * *
Elmer J. Schoneberger, Jr., born at Los Angeles in 1929, at six months of
age could con verse plainly; at a year old he had learned the alphabet; at
three, he was able to talk with ease and understanding on such subjects as
"electricity, engineering, economics, history, aviation and sports."

* * * *
My sister was born and married abroad. On arrival in England she and her
husband set off to visit at an old manor house in Wiltshire.

On entering the lodge gates, my sister turned to her husband and said,
"Why, this is my old home," and to his surprise, she pointed out landmarks
on the way.

The experience was related at dinner, and the host, somewhat incredulous,
playfully said, "Perhaps you will discover the Priest's Hole !" It was
mentioned in the history of the place that one existed in Tudor times, but
it had never been discovered.

After dinner the guests adjourned to the gallery to see some old
pictures, and it was noticed my sister was missing. They found her in a room
nearby, counting the panels on the wall, and looking somewhat dreamy.
Suddenly she exclaimed, "This is the one," and asked her husband to press a
leaf in the carving very hard as she could not manage it.

He did so, the panel moved stiffly, and a tiny room was revealed, dusty
with age, and empty save for a broken piece of pottery and a pallet, which
had evidently been used for a bed.

* * * *

The first year of little Jackie's life we called him our little Chinaman,
because his features-particularly his eyes-were Chinese. After his first
year, he began to lose that Oriental look. But he was always different from
the other children-silent, he preferred to play alone, and would play for
hours with one object.

As he grew older, it was noticed that Jackie was the one who did things.
If he started a thing, he always finished it. Often we would hear the others
say, "Jackie can fix it!" And always Jackie fixed it.

It was when he was five years old that I made the boys each a pair of
navy blue pants. Immediately, Jim tried his on. When I asked Jackie if he
wanted to put his on, he said, No-he would put them in his drawer until I
got his shirt made. "But Jackie," I said, "I just made you some shirts."

"I know," he answered, "but they are not the right kind."

"What is the right kind?"

"The right kind is long, like this," he said, and he measured with his
little hand down to his knees.

"But boys don't wear shirts like that!"

"I know. But they don't wear the right kind of shirts. I want you to make
mine black with lots of pretty colors on it."

"Daddy," said I, "doesn't wear that kind of shirt."

"No, Daddy doesn't wear the right kind of shirt, nor Ned Lane, either."
(Ned Lane is a friend of his father.)

I asked Jackie if he would wear this long black shirt with the pretty
colors to school, and he said yes, he would; because it was the right kind
of shirt!

And then we say, we don't "remember."


Best wishes,



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