davidbrucehaiku: GOOD LIVES = GOOD DEATHS






Some say lives well lived

And well loved lead to an end

That resembles love


NOTE: Read Edgar Lee Masters’ poem “William and Emily” in Spoon River Anthology.

Edgar Lee Masters: William and Emily (Spoon River Anthology)

THERE is something about Death

Like love itself!

If with some one with whom you have known passion

And the glow of youthful love,

You also, after years of life

Together, feel the sinking of the fire

And thus fade away together,

Gradually, faintly, delicately,

As it were in each other’s arms,

Passing from the familiar room—

That is a power of unison between souls

Like love itself!


Free davidbrucehaiku eBooks (pdfs)


Free eBooks by David Bruce (pdfs)


davidbrucehaiku: CONTRASTS OF DECLINES






Not like maple leaves’ —

Human beings’ drab declines

Frailty, and then death


Free davidbrucehaiku eBooks (pdfs)


Free eBooks by David Bruce (pdfs)


David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s HAMLET: A Retelling in Prose — Act 4, Scenes 3-4

— 4.3 —

King Claudius said to some lords, “I have sent Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to seek Hamlet, and to find the body of Polonius. How dangerous it is that this man goes loose! Yet we must not put the strong arm of law on him. Hamlet is beloved by the unreasoning multitude of people. They use their eyes, not their reason and judgment, to decide whom to like. In such cases, they focus on the punishment given to the offender and not on the offense that the offender committed.

“To make everything go smoothly and evenly, my suddenly sending Hamlet away must seem like the result of careful deliberation.

“Desperate diseases require desperate cures, or they are not cured.”

Rosencrantz entered the room. Guildenstern stayed with Hamlet, guarding him, outside.

“How are you?” King Claudius asked him. “What has happened?”

“Hamlet will not tell us where he stowed the corpse of Polonius.”

“Where is Hamlet?”

“Outside, my lord. He is being guarded. What do you want done with him?”

“Bring him here before us,” King Claudius said.

“Guildenstern!” Rosencrantz called. “Bring in my lord.”

Hamlet and Guildenstern entered the room.

“Now, Hamlet, where’s Polonius?” King Claudius asked.

“At supper.”

“At supper! Where?”

“Do not ask where he eats, but where he is eaten,” Hamlet said. “A certain convocation of politic — shrewd — worms is even now gnawing at him.”

Hamlet was punning on the Diet of Worms, which was held in the German city of Worms in 1521. The word “diet” means “council.” Holy Roman Emperor Charles V presided over the Diet of Worms.

Hamlet continued, “Your worm is your only Emperor for diet. We fatten all other creatures so that we can eat them and grow fat ourselves, and we ourselves grow fat so that we can feed maggots. A fat King and a lean beggar are only two different courses at a meal; they are two dishes on one table. That’s the end for us.”

“Alas! Alas!” King Claudius said.

“A man may fish with a worm that has eaten part of a King, and then he can eat the fish that has fed on that worm.”

“What do you mean by this?”

“Nothing except to show you how a King may progress through the guts of a beggar,” Hamlet replied.

“Where is Polonius?”

“In Heaven; send someone there to see,” Hamlet replied. “If your messenger does not find him there, then seek him in the other place yourself. But indeed, if you do not find him within this month, you shall smell him as you go up the stairs into the lobby.”

King Claudius said to some attendants, “Go seek the corpse there.”

“He will stay until you come,” Hamlet said to the attendants as they were leaving the room.

“Hamlet, because of this deed, for your own personal safety — which we dearly care for, just as we dearly grieve for this deed that you have done — we must send you away from here with fiery quickness. Therefore prepare yourself to travel. The ship is ready, and the wind is blowing in the right direction, your companions are waiting for you, and everything is ready for you to go to England.”

“For England?”

“Yes, Hamlet.”


“So it is, as you would know if you knew our motives.”

“I see a cherub who sees them,” Hamlet replied.

He suspected King Claudius’ motives, and he was reminding King Claudius that God and the angels in Heaven know everything.

Hamlet continued, “Let’s go to England!”

He said to King Claudius, “Farewell, dear mother.”

King Claudius replied, “Your loving father, Hamlet.”

“You are my mother. Father and mother are man and wife; man and wife are one flesh; and so, you are my mother.

“Let’s go to England!”

Hamlet exited.

King Claudius ordered Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, “Follow him closely; persuade him to board the ship quickly. Do not delay. I’ll have him leave here tonight. Away! Everything else needed for this journey to happen has been sealed and done. Please, hurry.”

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern left the room.

King Claudius motioned with his hands, and everyone departed, leaving him alone.

King Claudius had written a letter to the King of England, a letter that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern would carry on board ship. Now he held an imaginary one-sided conversation with the English King:

“King of England, if you value at all my friendship — as you should, because of my great power … your country can still feel the raw and red scar that it received from the Danish sword, and you are paying homage and tribute to us to keep our soldiers away — because of this, you cannot coldly set aside and ignore our royal command, which is described in full in a letter: the immediate death of Hamlet. Do it, King of England — kill Hamlet.

“Hamlet rages like a fever in my blood, and you must cure me. Until I know that Hamlet is dead, whatever else happens, I will never be happy.”

— 4.4 —

On a plain in Denmark, young Fortinbras, one of his Captains, and an army of soldiers were marching.

Fortinbras ordered, “Go, Captain, and give the Danish King my greetings. Tell him that, in accordance with our agreement, Fortinbrascraves safe conduct and an escort as he marches across Denmark. You know the rendezvous. If his majesty wants to see us, we will pay his respects to him in person. Tell him that.”

“I will do so, my lord,” the Captain replied.

Fortinbras ordered his army, “March onward. Do nothing to cause trouble.”

Fortinbras and his army marched onward, leaving the Captain behind.

Hamlet, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and others arrived.

Hamlet said to the Captain, “Good sir, whose soldiers are these?”

“They are Norwegian, sir,” the Captain replied.

“Please tell me where they are marching, sir.”

“They are marching to fight in a part of Poland.”

“Who commands them, sir?”

“Fortinbras, the nephew to the aged King of Norway.”

“Will his army fight the heartland of Poland, or will it fight some frontier?”

“To speak truly, and with no exaggeration, we go to fight to gain a little patch of ground that has in it no profit but the name. Whoever wins the battle will gain nothing but reputation — he will win the name of conqueror. I would not rent it for five — five! — ducats. It would not bring in more to either the King of Norway or the King of Poland if it were sold outright. It is a worthless piece of land.”

“Why, then the King of Poland will never defend it.”

“Yes, he will,” the Captain said. “He has already stationed soldiers there.”

“Two thousand souls and twenty thousand ducats will not settle this straw — this trivial matter,” Hamlet said. “This is the abscess that results from having too much wealth during peacetime. The abscess festers inside the body and the man dies without other people knowing why.

“I humbly thank you, sir.”

The Captain replied, “May God be with you, sir,” and departed.

Rosencrantz asked Hamlet, “Will it please you to go, my lord?”

“I’ll be with you very quickly. Go ahead of me a little distance,” Hamlet replied.

Everyone started traveling again, leaving Hamlet alone.

Hamlet said to himself, “Everything denounces me and spurs me on to get my delayed revenge! What is a man, if his chief happiness and all he does with his time is simply to sleep and eat? He is a beast — no more than that. Surely, He Who made us with such a fine power of reasoning, which we can use to learn from the past and plan for the future, did not give us that capability and God-like reason to go unused by us and get moldy. Now, whether it be due to an animal’s forgetfulness or from some cowardice caused by thinking in too much detail on the outcome of our action — a thought that, divided into four parts, has but one part wisdom and three parts cowardice — I do not know why I yet live to say, ‘This thing is something I have to do.’ It should have been done already. After all, I have the reason — a cause — and the will and the strength and the means to do it.

“Examples as weighty as Earth exhort me to take action and get revenge. Witness this army of such size and expense that is being led by a delicate and tender Prince with a spirit that is puffed up with divine ambition and who makes a face at and scorns the unknown outcome of his war. He is exposing what is mortal and unsure to all that fortune, death, and danger dare. And for what? For an eggshell.

“Rightly to be great is not to stir without great argument, but greatly to find quarrel in a straw when honor is at stake.”

Hamlet thought, It is true that the way to get a reputation is not by refraining from making war unless you have a good reason for making war, but by making war over a trifle — a straw — when honor is at stake.

If Fortinbras had said that this trifle of land in Poland is not worth fighting for and so I will remain at home instead of going to war, he would gain no reputation. But since he is willing to go to war and get lots of soldiers killed and lots of money spent over a trifle, he will gain a reputation. But will it be a negative or a positive reputation?

Or perhaps the right way to be great is to not make war unless you have an excellent reason for making war, but people mistakenly think that the right way to be great is to make war over a trifle — a straw — when honor is at stake. But will it be negative or positive greatness?

Hamlet said, “But what about me? I am not concerned with trifles and straws. I have a father who has been murdered, a mother whose character has been stained, and incentives both in my mind and in my emotions to take action and get revenge, and what have I done? I have slept and done nothing. Meanwhile, to my shame, I see the imminent death of twenty thousand men, who, merely for Fortinbras’ fantasy and illusion of fame, go to their graves as if the graves were beds. They will die while fighting for a plot of land that is not big enough to contain all the soldiers fighting over it and which is not big enough to provide tombs and graves for all the soldiers who will die fighting over it.

“Oh, from this time forth, my thoughts will be bloody, or they will be worth nothing!”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


David Bruce: Friends Anecdotes

Friends can be a big help when help is needed. While Jimi Hendrix was in the United States Army and stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, some of his fellow soldiers did not like him and even beat him up once. One of Jimi’s friends from Seattle, Washington, where he had been born, was also stationed there: Raymond Ross, the heavyweight boxing champion for the 101stAirborne. Raymond hit a few heads, and Jimi’s fellow soldiers decided not to beat Jimi up anymore. As a young musician in Nashville, Tennessee, Jimi sometimes could not afford to replace his guitar’s strings when they broke. As Jimi was trying to play his guitar without an E string, Larry Lee, a Nashville bass guitarist, gave him an E string. They became friends. When Jimi decided to go to New York City, he lacked a coat; Larry gave him one. By the way, much later Jimi asked Larry to play rhythm guitar for him at Woodstock. Also by the way, an element of luck is involved in becoming a member of a famous rock group such as the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Noel Redding, a white man, became bass guitarist for the group in part because he was a guitarist who had never played bass guitar before and so would not be limited by preconceived ideas about how to play bass guitar — more importantly, Jimi chose him because he liked Noel’s Afro hairdo. Mitch Mitchell and another man were competing for the drummer position — Mitch got it because he won a coin toss.

When he was a young man, Leonard Bernstein met a man named Adolph Green, who later became big on Broadway and in Hollywood. When they met, they quizzed each other on his knowledge of music. They quickly discovered that neither was a fake and both would admit when they did not know something. Lenny played a few bars of music, said that they were by Dmitry Shostakovich, and asked Adolph to name the piece. Adolph said that he could not name the piece. Actually, the piece was by Lenny himself. Adolph then requested Lenny to play the piece titled Puck by Debussy. Lenny replied that he did not know that piece. Actually, no such piece existed. After the musical quizzing was over, the two became close friends. Betty Comden, who collaborated with Adolph for six decades, was impressed by Lenny when she first met him. She went home and woke up her mother and told her, “Mom, I’ve met my first genius.” Her mother replied, “That’s nice, dear,” and then she went back to sleep.

Clark Gable and Hattie McDaniel were friends, and Mr. Gable helped Ms. McDaniel to get the coveted role of Mammy in Gone with the Wind, the role for which Ms. McDaniel got the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress — the first Oscar won by an African-American. (She was also the first African-American to be nominated.) When the movie premiered in Atlanta, Georgia, during those days of Jim Crow, none of the black actors in the movie was invited to attend. Mr. Gable at first vowed not to attend the premiere, but Ms. McDaniel told him that she was not surprised that no black actors were invited to attend the premiere and she told him that he needed to attend the premiere to get publicity for the movie. She also thanked him for his friendship. After Ms. McDaniel integrated the West Adams Heights district of Los Angeles, California, Mr. Gable attended her parties.

Artist James Montgomery Flagg was a friend of the Barrymores, whom he greatly respected and liked. He remembers being with Jack Barrymore in his dressing room after a theatrical performance. Jack was in his undershirt and was removing his makeup. Mr. Flagg remembers that some of the makeup got on Jack’s undershirt, which was already stained with makeup. Mr. Flagg wrote about Jack’s undershirt, “Obviously, it had not collected all that gruesome brown in a mere week.” Mr. Flagg remembers that Jack did not dance. He asked him about it, and Jack replied, “Unless I could be the best god*mned dancer in the world, I wouldn’t dance!” Of course, Jack had a drinking problem, but Mr. Flagg evaluated Jack in this way: “Great in spite of grog.”

Comedian Jack Benny played the violin, and many of his friends were famous musicians. Jascha Heifetz, Gregor Piatagorsky, Leonard Pennario, and Mr. Benny once were at the home of Joan, Mr. Benny’s daughter. Mr. Benny sat in a chair, which made a noise, and Mr. Heifetz immediately said, “E flat.” Mr. Benny, however, said, “E natural.” Joan went to the piano, played E flat, and Mr. Benny sat down in the chair again. The noise it made was E flat. Mr. Benny was happy to have been proven wrong and happy that Mr. Heifetz’ renowned perfect pitch had been proven right once more. By the way, when Mr. Benny celebrated his 80th birthday, movie director Billy Wilder gave him the perfect gift: two copies of the book Life Begins at Forty.

Penn Gillette of Penn and Teller fame respects thought. Once, he was taking a now-former girlfriend out to eat, but he needed to get some writing done first. It would take about an hour, and after apologizing to her, he said, “You can turn on the TV; my iPod has music on it and there are headphones right there. If you want to go out, my car keys are right there and there’s a Starbucks in the lobby. I have a couple books there if you want to read and there’s a magazine or two ….” But she said to him, “I’m fine. I’ll just sit here.” Penn asked her, “What are you going to do?” She replied, “I’ll sit and think.” In his book God, No!, Penn writes, “She’s still one of my best friends and an inspiration.”

Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr., were friends, but when Sammy started taking cocaine, Frank dropped him as a friend—fast. For three years, they didn’t talk, but then they happened to meet again. Frank said, “Sam, I’m so f**king disappointed in you, with that s**t. Dump it. You’re breaking your friends’ hearts, Sam.” Sammy replied, “I’ll give it up, Frank.” Then he gave it up.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


Edgar Lee Masters: William and Emily (Spoon River Anthology)

THERE is something about Death

Like love itself!

If with some one with whom you have known passion

And the glow of youthful love,

You also, after years of life

Together, feel the sinking of the fire

And thus fade away together,

Gradually, faintly, delicately,

As it were in each other’s arms,

Passing from the familiar room—

That is a power of unison between souls

Like love itself!


Lao-Tzu #68: The best tacticians try to avoid confrontation.



The best warriors

do not use violence.

The best generals

do not destroy indiscriminately.

The best tacticians

try to avoid confrontation.

The best leaders

become servants of their people.


This is called the virtue of non-competition.

This is called the power to manage others.

This is called attaining harmony with the heavens.


Tao Te Ching

By Lao-Tzu

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


Aesop: The Hare With Many Friends

A Hare was very popular with the other beasts who all claimed to be her friends. But one day she heard the hounds approaching and hoped to escape them by the aid of her many Friends. So, she went to the horse, and asked him to carry her away from the hounds on his back. But he declined, stating that he had important work to do for his master. ‘He felt sure,’ he said, ‘that all her other friends would come to her assistance.’ She then applied to the bull, and hoped that he would repel the hounds with his horns. The bull replied: ‘I am very sorry, but I have an appointment with a lady; but I feel sure that our friend the goat will do what you want.’ The goat, however, feared that his back might do her some harm if he took her upon it. The ram, he felt sure, was the proper friend to apply to. So she went to the ram and told him the case. The ram replied: ‘Another time, my dear friend. I do not like to interfere on the present occasion, as hounds have been known to eat sheep as well as hares.’ The Hare then applied, as a last hope, to the calf, who regretted that he was unable to help her, as he did not like to take the responsibility upon himself, as so many older persons than himself had declined the task. By this time the hounds were quite near, and the Hare took to her heels and luckily escaped.

He that has many friends, has no friends.


Free downloads of Aesop’s Fables and many other books: