davidbrucehaiku: EYES (After Kosugi Isshō)




EYES (After Kosugi Isshō)


Have seen everything

What do I choose to look at?

White chrysanthemums


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David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s HAMLET: A Retelling — Act 2, Scene 1

— 2.1 —

In a room of his house, old Polonius was talking to Reynaldo, who was one of his servants. Laertes was now living in Paris, and Polonius was sending Reynaldo to him.

“Give him this money and these letters, Reynaldo,” Polonius said.

“I will, my lord.”

“You shall do a marvelous and wise thing, good Reynaldo, if, before you visit him, you inquire about his behavior in Paris.”

“My lord, I intend to do that.”

“Well said; very well said,” Polonius said. “Look, sir, first inquire for me and find out which Danes are in Paris. Find out how they came to be there, who they are, how much money they have, and where they are living, what company they keep, and what are their expenses. If you find out that they know my son, you will learn more about him by using roundabout and vague questioning than if you were to question them directly about him. Pretend that you do not know him well, but that you have heard of him. You can say, ‘I know his father and his friends, and I know him a little.’ Do you understand me, Reynaldo?”

“Yes, very well, my lord.”

“‘— and I know him a little, but —’ you may say ‘— not well, but if this person is the man I mean, he’s very wild. He is addicted to so and so.’ You can then charge him with whatever false accusations you please, but be careful not to charge him with any rank and disgraceful accusations that would dishonor him. Be careful not to do that. But, sir, you may charge him with such wanton, wild, and usual slips and faults that are commonly made by young men who are enjoying their first taste of liberty.”

“Such as gambling, my lord?” Reynaldo asked.

“Yes, or drinking, fencing, swearing, quarrelling and fighting, visiting prostitutes — you may go so far as these things.”

“My lord, that would dishonor him.”

“In faith, no,” Polonius said, “as long as you moderate the faults. You must not charge him with a major scandal, such as that he visits prostitutes every night — that is not what I want you to do. Instead, I want you to lightly talk about the slips and faults that come when a young man is first given his freedom — they are the flash and outbreak of a fiery mind, the wildness of an untamed young man, the things that happen to most young men.”

“But, my good lord —”

“You want to know why I want you to do this?”

“Yes, my lord. I would like to know that.”

“This is my scheme, and I believe that it is a legitimate scheme. You will charge my son in conversation with these slight sullies, as if they were like some spots of dirt that have soiled embroidery as it was being made. Young men often acquire slight sullies in the process of maturing. Listen to me. The person to whom you are talking, the person from whom you are seeking information about my son’s conduct, if he has ever seen my son commit any of the sins that we have mentioned, he will confirm my son’s fault, and he will call you ‘good sir,’ or something similar, or ‘friend,’ or ‘gentleman,’ according to the form of address used by his social class and his country.”

“Very good, my lord.”

“And then, sir, he will do this — he will do — what was I about to say? By the Mass, I was about to say something. Where did I leave off?”

“You said that the person I was speaking to would confirm your son’s fault, if he is guilty, and would call me ‘good sir,’ or something similar, or ‘friend,’ or ‘gentleman.’”

“Yes,” Polonius said. “He will confirm my son’s fault by saying something like this: ‘I know the gentleman. I saw him yesterday, or the other day, or this day, or that day. And as you said, he was gambling, or drinking to excess, or playing court tennis.’ Or perhaps he will say, ‘I saw him enter such a house of sale.’ Videlicet[Latin for ‘That is to say’], a brothel. And so forth.

“Do you see? Your bait of falsehood will capture the prize of truth. We men of wisdom and of foresight use roundabout courses and devious tests to find out information and truth. If you follow this lecture and my advice, you shall learn the truth about my son. You understand me, don’t you?”

“I do, my lord,” Reynaldo replied.

“May God be with you,” Polonius said. “Farewell.”

“Goodbye, my lord.”

“Use your eyes when you are with my son. Go along with whatever he wants to do.”

“I shall, my lord.”

“And let him ply his music, whatever his music might be.”

“That is good advice, my lord.”


Reynaldo left the room just as Ophelia, Polonius’ daughter, entered it. Ophelia looked distressed.

“How are you, Ophelia! What’s the matter?”

“Oh, my lord, my lord, I have been so frightened!”

“Frightened by what, in the name of God?”

“My lord, as I was sewing in my private chamber, Lord Hamlet — with his jacket all unbuttoned, no hat on his head, wearing dirty stockings without garters so that his stockings had fallen down and were like fetters around his ankles, pale as his shirt, his knees knocking each other, and with a look so piteous that it seemed as if he had been released from Hell so that he could speak of his horrors — came to me.”

“Is he insane because he loves you?” Polonius asked.

“My father, I do not know,” Ophelia replied, “but truly, I am afraid that that is true.”

“What did he say?”

“He took me by the wrist and held me hard, and then he backed up until he was at his arm’s length, and holding his other hand over his brow, he stared at my face as if he were going to draw it. He stayed like that a long time, but at last, shaking my arm a little, and waving his head up and down three times, he sighed so piteously and profoundly that it seemed to shatter his entire body and end his life. Having finished that, he let me go, and turning his head over his shoulder, he left my private chamber without the use of his eyes. He went out of doors without looking where he was going — he kept staring at me as he left.”

“Come with me,” Polonius said. “I will go and seek the King. Hamlet is in the very ecstasy and madness of love, whose violent nature destroys itself and leads the will to desperate undertakings as often as any passion under Heaven that afflict our natures. This madness has enough violence that it can cause self-destruction. I am sorry that Hamlet is insane. Have you spoken to him any hard words recently?”

“No, my good lord,” Ophelia replied. “I have done only what you commanded me to do. I returned his letters, and I have declined to let him visit me.”

“That has made him insane,” Polonius said. “I am sorry that I have not observed him with better heed and judgment. I was afraid that he was trifling with you and that he wanted to ruin you. Curse my suspicious nature! By Heaven, old people are just as likely to be overly suspicious as young people are to be indiscreet.

“Come, let’s go to the King. We must give him this information. He will not want to hear it, but it might cause more harm to keep it secret than to reveal it.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


David Bruce: Education Anecdotes

Tilly Smith, a 10-year-old English schoolgirl, saved approximately 100 people at a resort on the Thai island of Phuket from a tsunami on 26 December 2004. The tsunami killed at least 178,000 people. Fortunately for the people at the resort, Tilly had studied tsunamis in her geography class in Oxshott, a small town south of London, just two weeks earlier. Tilly said, “I saw this bubbling on the water, right on the edge, and foam sizzling just like in a frying pan. The water was coming in, but it wasn’t going out again. It was coming in, and then in, and then in, towards the hotel.” Tilly told her mother, Penny, “Mum, I know there’s something wrong. I know it’s going to happen—the tsunami.” Her mother did not believe her at first. However, her father, Colin, said, “Tilly went hysterical.” Colin and Tilly’s 8-year-old sister, Holly, went to the hotel and spread news of the approaching tsunami, and Tilly told a Japanese-born hotel chef who recognized the word “tsunami.” The chef and a hotel security agent helped spread the news of the approaching tsunami at the beach, and people left the beach. Minutes later, the tsunami hit the beach. According to media reports, “The beach near the Marriott Hotel was one of the few in Phuket where no one was killed or seriously hurt.” Former United States President Bill Clinton met with Tilly the following year. He said, “Tilly’s story is a simple reminder that education can make a difference between life and death. All children should be taught disaster reduction so they know what to do when natural hazards strike.” Because of Tilly, many people lived through the tsunami who otherwise would have died. Fortunately for them, Tilly likes studying geography. 

In May 2011, when gunfire broke out outside a school in the northern state of Nuevo Leon in Mexico, kindergarten teacher Martha Rivera Alanis remained calm and instructed her class of 5- and 6-year-old children to do a duck-and-cover drill for their protection. In recognition of her outstanding civic courage, Gov. Rodrigo Medina de la Cruz gave to her a framed certificate. Ms. Alanis said, “Of course, I was afraid, but I tell you, my kids get me through it.” During the emergency she told a little girl, “No, my love, nothing is going to happen—just put your little face on the floor.” The gunshots were from an attack in which five people were killed at a taxi stand. Monterrey, Mexico, has been the site of much drug-related violence. To keep the children from being frightened, Ms. Alanis had them sing a song from the children’s TV show Barney and Friends. The children sang, “If the rain drops were chocolate, I would love to be there, opening my mouth to taste them.” Ms. Alanis said, “My only thought was to take their minds off that noise [the gunshots]. So I thought of that song.” She said, “I’m going to carry on; of course, it is possible. If my 5- and 6-year-olds can do it, it is up to the rest of us to carry on.” Part of carrying on is being prepared. Ms. Alanis said, “We do [emergency] drills constantly, because the area where we are is a high-risk zone. She adding that the kids “behaved in the way we had practiced.” 

The first-ever class taught by Kari-Lynn Winters consisted of first-graders with behavioral problems; however, after the first day of class Kari-Lynn very seldom had any problem with any child. On the first day of class, Kari-Lynn passed out some candies that were to be used in a math lesson. She gave the children strict orders not to eat the candies yet, but a small girl did eat some candies and started choking. Kari-Lynn was so scared that she uttered some profanity in front of the children and then ran over, grabbed the child, and used the Heimlich maneuver (lifting the child off the ground as she did so) to get the candies out of the child’s throat so the child could sit at her desk and breathe again. Kari-Lynn then telephoned the child’s mother to come and pick up the child. That day she got a reputation as the school’s strictest teacher. Students spread the word that you better not mess with Kari-Lynn because if you did, Kari-Lynn would do these things to you: 1) Cuss you out in front of the other children, 2) Grab you and lift you off the ground, 3) Break all your ribs, 4) Sit you down at a desk and let you suffer from the pain of the broken ribs, and 5) Call your mother and tell on you so your mother would take you home and punish you again. After the first day of class, Kari-Lynn received many compliments on how well her students behaved.

According to a 2011 national survey of 638 public teachers, 61 percent of these teachers buy food—spending on average $25 monthly—so that they can feed hungry children at school. Share Our Strength, a non-profit organization, sponsored the survey. Quite simply, some children are not getting enough food to eat at home. Fortunately, many teachers are doing the good deed of feeding them. Stacey Frakes, who used to teach third, fourth and fifth grades at Madison County Central School in Florida, remembers that students would almost cry in her classes because they had not eaten breakfast and were hungry. She said that the hungry students were hard to teach because they “couldn’t focus at all. All they could think about was wanting food. They would ask, ‘What time is lunch? Is it lunchtime yet?’” She kept peanut-butter crackers handy so that she could feed hungry students, and once she gave a hungry student her own lunch. The United States government does provide breakfast to 11.6 million school children. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 74 percent of these breakfasts are free; in addition, 8.8 percent are reduced price.

“An education isn’t how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It’s being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don’t.’ — Anatole France


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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Edgar Lee Masters: Cooney Potter and Fiddler Jones (Spoon River Anthology)

Cooney Potter

I INHERITED forty acres from my Father
And, by working my wife, my two sons and two daughters
From dawn to dusk, I acquired
A thousand acres.
But not content,
Wishing to own two thousand acres,
I bustled through the years with axe and plow,
Toiling, denying myself, my wife, my sons, my daughters.
Squire Higbee wrongs me to say
That I died from smoking Red Eagle cigars.
Eating hot pie and gulping coffee
During the scorching hours of harvest time
Brought me here ere I had reached my sixtieth year.

Fiddler Jones

THE earth keeps some vibration going
There in your heart, and that is you.
And if the people find you can fiddle,
Why, fiddle you must, for all your life.
What do you see, a harvest of clover?
Or a meadow to walk through to the river?
The wind’s in the corn; you rub your hands
For beeves hereafter ready for market;
Or else you hear the rustle of skirts
Like the girls when dancing at Little Grove.
To Cooney Potter a pillar of dust
Or whirling leaves meant ruinous drouth;
They looked to me like Red-Head Sammy
Stepping it off, to “Toor-a-Loor.”
How could I till my forty acres
Not to speak of getting more,
With a medley of horns, bassoons and piccolos
Stirred in my brain by crows and robins
And the creak of a wind-mill—only these?
And I never started to plow in my life
That some one did not stop in the road
And take me away to a dance or picnic.
I ended up with forty acres;
I ended up with a broken fiddle—
And a broken laugh, and a thousand memories,
And not a single regret.


Lao-Tzu #61: Large countries should desire to protect and help the people, and small countries should desire to serve others.



A large country should take the low place like a great watershed,

which from its low position assumes the female role.

The female overcomes the male by the power of her position.

Her tranquility gives rise to her humility.


If a large country takes the low position,

it will be able to influence smaller countries.

If smaller countries take the lower position,

then they can allow themselves to be influenced.

So both seek to take the lower position

in order to influence the other, or be influenced.


Large countries should desire to protect and help the people,

and small countries should desire to serve others.

Both large and small countries benefit greatly from humility.


Tao Te Ching

By Lao-Tzu

A translation for the public domain by j.h.mcdonald, 1996


Aesop: The Miser and His Gold

Once upon a time there was a Miser who used to hide his gold at the foot of a tree in his garden; but every week he used to go and dig it up and gloat over his gains. A robber, who had noticed this, went and dug up the gold and decamped with it. When the Miser next came to gloat over his treasures, he found nothing but the empty hole. He tore his hair, and raised such an outcry that all the neighbours came around him, and he told them how he used to come and visit his gold. ‘Did you ever take any of it out?’ asked one of them.

‘Nay,’ said he, ‘I only came to look at it.’

‘Then come again and look at the hole,’ said a neighbour; ‘it will do you just as much good.’

Wealth unused might as well not exist.