davidbrucehaiku: WE ALL FACE DARKNESS






Life is good, and yet

Being a child can be hard

We all face darkness


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David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s HENRY V: A Retelling in Prose — Act 2, Scene 4

— 2.4 —

In the French King’s palace, several men were meeting: the French King, the Dauphin, the Dukes of Berri and Bretagne, the Constable, and others. The Constable of France was the commander-in-chief of the army in the absence of the King.

The King of France said, “Now comes the English King and his army upon us with England’s full power, and we must be extra careful to put up a first-class defense. Therefore, the Dukes of Berri and of Bretagne,of Brabant and of Orleans, shall go forth,and you, too, Prince Dauphin, as swiftly as you can, to strengthen and reinforce our fortifications with men of courage and with defensive equipment. The King of England’s hostile approach is as fierce as a whirlpool that violently sucks in waters. We ought, therefore, to be as provident in making preparations for the future as fear has taught us to be as a result of recent battles in which the English soldiers whom we had fatally neglected left many French dead upon our battlefields. We ought to remember the English victories in the Battle of Crécy in 1346 and in the Battle of Poitiers in 1356.”

The Dauphin said, “My most redoubted — formidable and respected — father, it is certainly fitting that we arm ourselves against the foe. Peace should not dull a Kingdom and make it lazy; even when no war has been declared and no reason for war is known to exist, defenses should be maintained, armies should be assembled, and other preparations should be made as if a war were expected. Therefore, I say that it is fitting we all go forth to view the sick and feeble parts of France. Let us do so with no show of fear; let us show no more fear than if we had heard that the English were busying themselves with a traditional Whitsun Morris dance. After all, my good liege, England is badly Kinged; the scepter of England is so fantastically borne by a vain, giddy, shallow, capricious youth that no one needs to fear England.”

The Constable said, “That is not the case, Prince Dauphin! You are too much mistaken about King Henry V. Talk to and question the ambassadors that you sent to his court. They will tell you about the great dignity with which he heard your message to him, how well supplied with noble counselors, how modest in raising objections, and how altogether terrifying he was in staying committed to his resolutions. You will conclude that the King of England’s former frivolities were like the slow-wittedness of the Roman Lucius Junius Brutus, who faked being slow-witted in order to lull the tyrant Lucius Tarquinius Superbus and his son into not fearing him. The ruse worked, and Brutus — the name means ‘Dullard’ — drove them out of Rome. Brutus covered his intelligence with a coat of folly; this is similar to gardeners spreading manure over the ground in which are planted the flowers that bloom earliest and are the most beautiful.”

“I disagree, my lord High Constable,” the Dauphin said, “but although I disagree it does not matter. In cases of defense, it is best to believe that the enemy is mightier and more powerful than he seems. By doing that, we will ensure that forces required for defense are sufficient. If we were to underestimate the enemy, we might not be able to defend ourselves against him; we would be like a miser who ruins his new coat by not giving his tailor enough cloth to make a good coat.”

The King of France said, “We believe that King Harry and his army are strong; therefore, Princes, make sure that you strongly arm to meet him on the battlefield. When training a hawk or hound to kill game animals, it is traditional to flesh the hawk or hound — to give it some of the meat of the game it hunted and killed. Henry V’s relatives have earlier been fleshed upon French soldiers. Henry V has been bred out of that bloody race who persistently pursued us in our native paths. For evidence, remember our too-much-memorable shame when at Créssy, Edward the Black Prince of Wales — a black name! — killed and killed again and took captive all our Princes. The Black Prince’s father, King Edward III, immovable as a mountain, stood on a mountain high in the air, crowned with the golden Sun, and watched the heroic actions of his son and smiled as he watched him mangle and deface and cut to pieces 20-year-old French soldiers — the work of nature and God and French fathers. Henry V is a branch of that victorious family; therefore, let us fear his natural mightiness and destiny.”

A messenger entered the room and said, “Ambassadors from Harry, King of England, request to be admitted into your majesty’s presence.”

“We will see them immediately,” the King of France said. “Go, and bring them here.”

The messenger and some lords exited.

The King of France said, “It is as if we are being hunted by Henry V. He is eagerly chasing us.”

The Dauphin said, “We should not turn tail and run away; instead, let us turn head and face the enemy. Cowardly dogs bark the loudest — they most spend their mouths — when what they seem to threaten is running far ahead of them. My good sovereign, give the English ambassadors short shrift — treat them curtly. Let them know of what kind of a Monarchy you are the head. Self-love, aka pride, my liege, is not so vile a sin as self-neglecting. Have pride, and do not undervalue yourself.”

The French lords reentered the room with the English ambassador — Exeter — and his attendants.

The King of France asked, “Have you come from our brother the King of England?”

Of course, the two Kings were not literally brothers; this was simply a polite way of referring to another King.

“Yes, we have come from him,” Exeter said, “and he greets your majesty by desiring you, in the name of God Almighty, to divest yourself and lay aside the borrowed glories that by gift of Heaven, by law of nature, and by the law of nations — that is, by all laws, whether divine, natural, or human — belong to him and to his heirs. Namely, he desires you to divest yourself of and lay aside the crown of France and all the far-reaching honors and titles that pertain by customs and by laws to the crown of France. That you may know that this is no irregular or illegitimate claim that has been fraudulently picked out of old, worm-eaten books or searched out — as with a rake — from the dust of long-forgotten manuscripts or dredged up with bad faith and technicalities, he sends you this very memorable family tree in which his ancestors are listed.”

He handed the King of France a document, and then he added, “King Henry V’s direct line of descent from King Philip III of France and from King Edward III of England is very clearly shown. When you have looked over this document and seen his ancestry, he directs you then to resign your crown and Kingdom. You hold them fraudulently and are keeping them from him, the natural — by right of birth — and true challenger.”

The King of France asked, “What happens if I do not resign my crown and Kingdom?”

“War and blood will happen,” Exeter said. “Even if you were to hide the crown in your heart, Henry V will search for it there. To gain his rightful crown, he is coming in fierce tempest, in thunder, and in earthquake, like a Jove, the Roman King of the gods. If politely requesting the crown fails to get him the crown, then he will take it by force, and so he asks you, in all compassion, to give him his crown and to take mercy on the poor souls against whom this hungry war will open its vast jaws. On your head will fall the responsibility for the widows’ tears for dead husbands, the orphans’ cries for dead fathers, the pining maidens’ groans for their dead betrothed lovers, and for the dead men’s blood that war shall swallow in this dispute. This is his claim, his threatening, and all of my message to you, but if the Dauphin is in the Presence Chamber here, I also have a message especially for him.”

The King of France said, “As for us, we will consider this matter further. Tomorrow you shall bear our full reply back to our brother the King of England.”

The Dauphin said, “As for the Dauphin, I stand here for him. What is the message you bring for him from the King of England?”

Exeter replied, “The King of England sends the Dauphin scorn and defiance, slight regard, contempt, and anything that is negative yet does not reflect badly on him, the mighty sender; this is how little he values you. Thus says my King, and he adds that if your father the King of France does not grant all his demands in full and thereby sweeten the bitter mock — the joke of tennis balls — you sent his majesty, he will call you to so hot an answer for it that caves and womb-like vaulted passages of France shall chide your trespass and return your mockery by echoing with the sound of his cannon.”

“Tell King Henry V that if my father sends him a fair reply, it is against my will,” the Dauphin said, “for I desire nothing but conflict with England. For that purpose, and because it was an appropriate gift — because it matched his youth and vanity — I presented him with the Parisian tennis balls.”

Exeter replied, “Because of your gift to him, Henry V will make your Parisian royal palace — the Louvre — shake, as he would even if it were the foremost palace — or tennis court — in all of Europe. Be assured that you will find a difference, as we his subjects have in wonder found, between the lack of promise that he showed in his greener, younger, and immature days and the great promise that he has mastered now. Now he uses his time wisely, even to the last second, and you will learn that this is true by studying your own losses, if Henry V stays with his army in France.”

The King of France replied, “Tomorrow you shall know in full what we have decided.”

Exeter said, “Send us back to Henry V quickly lest he come here himself to find out the reason for our delay — he has already landed on French soil.”

“You shall soon be sent back to him with our reply and reasonable terms for peace. A night is only a small pause and a short delay when it comes to forming replies of this importance.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


David Bruce: Husbands and Wives Anecdotes

On 29 September 2003, in Trinidad, Dale Ramnanan and his girlfriend, Lystra Ramkissoon, were accosted by bandits who tried to kidnap Lystra. Dale battled the bandits and rescued her. Two years later, they married. Dale said, “Our love grew. We became more attached. How could I marry someone else after that?” Lystra said, “I married my hero.” Dale works as a chef at Imperial Garden Restaurant at Grand Bazaar, Trinidad, in the Caribbean, and at the time of the attack Lystra was a cashier there. Dale said, “We had just finished work around 10 p.m. and [were] waiting for transportation on the highway. It was hard getting a taxi. I wanted to drop Lystra home. A car pulled up. I sensed something was wrong even then, even as I was getting into the car. We sat in the back seat, I in the middle, a man on one side. We were driving along the highway and I watching these three guys, saying something wrong here. Suddenly, the guy in the front seat nod his head to the man in the back and push back his seat, pinning Lystra, and put a knife by her throat. The man next to me put a knife to my head and push my head between my legs.” The car stopped at Carlsen Field, a farming community. Dale said, “The man next to me come out the car and drag me out. He say, ‘Run, boy, or I will kill you.’ But I was just coming at him. His knife was long, and he was running into me and I was stepping back. I didn’t want them to go with Lystra.” The car started driving off, and the bandit jumped in the car. Dale said, “I tell myself I not giving her up. I ran to Lystra’s side of the car. The [window] glass was halfway down. The car was speeding. I hold on to the door post and lock myself to the car. I was bumping off the road, so I climb a little higher, and put my hand in trying to open the lock, and the men only stabbing me on my arm to let go.” Lystra said, “I was just whispering my prayers for the entire thing. When they stop the car and take out Dale, I see him coming back for me and dive on the car. I could see him trying to get the lock open. I heard this voice saying, ‘Lystra, open the door and jump.’” She did exactly that. After Lystra jumped out of the car, Dale also let go of the car door. Dale said, “As I hit the road, I got up. My little finger mash up but I ran to her. We started running, then she tell me her foot break, so we dive in the bush. The car stop and then the men ride out.” Lystra’s foot was badly broken—bone protruded from her flesh. Dale said, “I couldn’t believe she run. She was bawling in pain, and I was trying to push the bone back in. When the car gone, I put her on my back and continued the journey.” They came to a house, and the residents allowed them to call for help. Dale and Lystra invited them to their wedding. Lystra has a permanent limp, and Dale has knife scars on his arms, but he said, “I would do it all over again if I had to.” One person, other than Lystra, who is proud of Dale is his father, Narais Ramnanan, who said, “What my boy did was very brave to stand up to them and defend his girlfriend. It was love in his heart. They [the criminals] pushed him out of the car, but he did not run. Love brought him back to rescue her.”

Sylvester Stallone and his pregnant wife were living in a $100-a-month apartment in Hollywood. He had written the screenplay for Rocky and wanted to star in the movie, but movie studios wanted someone else to star in it. Mr. Stallone was tempted to sell the movie script when he was offered $350,000 for it, although selling it meant that he would not star in the movie. He asked his wife what he should do. She asked him, “Have you ever seen $350,000?” He replied, “No, never.” She then said to him, “Well, you won’t miss it then.” Mr. Stallone turned down the offer, and he received a much bigger financial offer and the opportunity to star in the film, which won a 1976 Best Picture Oscar.

After Chuck Norris got married, he appeared on the Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford TV show Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, and with Regis’ permission, he played a practical joke on Kathie Lee. Chuck told his hosts that he had played action heroes his entire career and that he wanted to be more romantic. He then asked if it would be OK for him to practice with someone from the audience. It was OK, and he chose a beautiful woman from the audience and kissed her passionately for a long time, shocking Kathie Lee. After the kiss, Chuck turned to Kathie Lee and said, “I’d like you to meet my wife, Gena.”

Danny Thomas was Lebanese, and when he wanted to get married to a woman named Rosie, he had not quite won over her father. In fact, Rosie’s father told her, “If you marry that Turk, you’re gonna end up in a tent.” For his 25thwedding anniversary, Danny rented a huge tent and held a huge party at his house in Beverly Hills. Many people, including celebrities, were there, and Jack Haley was the master of ceremonies. When Jack called on Danny to make a toast, Danny turned to his father-in-law and said, “Pa, do you remember when you said to Rosie twenty-five years ago, ‘If you marry that Turk, you’ll end up in a tent?’ Well, here we are.”

Most artists paint professional models, but Claude Monet used his wife, daughters, and friends as models. Why? His second wife, Alice, was jealous. When he announced that he wanted to paint a model, she told him, “The moment a model sets foot in this house, I leave.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved



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Edgar Lee Masters: Petit, the Poet (Spoon River Anthology)

SEEDS in a dry pod, tick, tick, tick,

Tick, tick, tick, like mites in a quarrel—

Faint iambics that the full breeze wakens—

But the pine tree makes a symphony thereof.

Triolets, villanelles, rondels, rondeaus,

Ballades by the score with the same old thought:

The snows and the roses of yesterday are vanished;

And what is love but a rose that fades?

Life all around me here in the village:

Tragedy, comedy, valor and truth,

Courage, constancy, heroism, failure—

All in the loom, and oh what patterns!

Woodlands, meadows, streams and rivers—

Blind to all of it all my life long.

Triolets, villanelles, rondels, rondeaus,

Seeds in a dry pod, tick, tick, tick,

Tick, tick, tick, what little iambics,

While Homer and Whitman roared in the pines?


Lao-Tzu #81: The Tao of Heaven nourishes by not forcing.



True words do not sound beautiful;

beautiful sounding words are not true.

Wise men don’t need to debate;

men who need to debate are not wise.


Wise men are not scholars,

and scholars are not wise.

The Master desires no possessions.

Since the things she does are for the people,

she has more than she needs.

The more she gives to others,

the more she has for herself.


The Tao of Heaven nourishes by not forcing.

The Tao of the Wise person acts by not competing.


Tao Te Ching

By Lao-Tzu

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


Lao-Tzu #80: Let people enjoy the simple technologies, let them enjoy their food, let them make their own clothes, let them be content with their own homes, and delight in the customs that they cherish.



Small countries with few people are best.

Give them all of the things they want,

and they will see that they do not need them.

Teach them that death is a serious thing,

and to be content to never leave their homes.

Even though they have plenty

of horses, wagons and boats,

they won’t feel that they need to use them.

Even if they have weapons and shields,

they will keep them out of sight.

Let people enjoy the simple technologies,

let them enjoy their food,

let them make their own clothes,

let them be content with their own homes,

and delight in the customs that they cherish.

Although the next country is close enough

that they can hear their roosters crowing and dogs barking,

they are content never to visit each other

all of the days of their lives.


Tao Te Ching

By Lao-Tzu

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


Lao-Tzu #79: A virtuous person will do the right thing, and persons with no virtue will take advantage of others.



Difficulties remain, even after solving a problem.

How then can we consider that as good?


Therefore the Master

does what she knows is right,

and makes no demands of others.

A virtuous person will do the right thing,

and persons with no virtue will take advantage of others.


The Tao does not choose sides,

the good person receives from the Tao

because she is on its side.


Tao Te Ching

By Lao-Tzu

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


Aesop: The Fox and the Goat

By an unlucky chance a Fox fell into a deep well from which he could not get out. A Goat passed by shortly afterwards, and asked the Fox what he was doing down there. ‘Oh, have you not heard?’ said the Fox; ‘there is going to be a great drought, so I jumped down here in order to be sure to have water by me. Why don’t you come down too?’ The Goat thought well of this advice, and jumped down into the well. But the Fox immediately jumped on her back, and by putting his foot on her long horns managed to jump up to the edge of the well. ‘Good-bye, friend,’ said the Fox, ‘remember next time,

‘Never trust the advice of a man in diffculties.’


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Aesop: The Old Woman and the Wine-Jar

You must know that sometimes old women like a glass of wine. One of this sort once found a Wine-jar lying in the road, and eagerly went up to it hoping to find it full. But when she took it up she found that all the wine had been drunk out of it. Still she took a long sniff at the mouth of the Jar. ‘Ah,’ she cried,

‘What memories cling ’round the instruments of our pleasure.’


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