not by bread alone

If of thy worldly goods thou art bereft
and of the store two loaves alone are left,
sell one and with the dole
buy hyacinths to feed the soul.

blue hyacinths

I seem to have known that verse all my life, and always associated it with the phrase “Man shall not live by bread alone.” Of course the latter is from the Bible; the verse, it seems, is by Rumi. Presumably the original wasn’t written in English, which would account for the variations I found when I went looking to see where it came from.
Continue reading “not by bread alone”

Khayyam, again, and disappearing words

apple blossom
"...under the apple bough"
Yesterday’s post reminded me of a glosa – posted below – but then led me on in leaps and bounds to thinking about vocabulary. Specifically, about the word ‘bough’: when, and how, did I learn it?

It’s not exactly the sort of word that crops up in childhood conversation, so I’m pretty sure I must have read it. Which could either have been in a story or in a poem. Or, I suppose, at Christmas, when we “deck[ed] the halls with boughs of holly”. Perhaps that’s the most likely, as would explain how I learned to pronounce it, too.

The word ‘bough’ probably crops up in plenty of older stories and poems, but how much new writing contains such words?
Continue reading “Khayyam, again, and disappearing words”


Just a couple of hours to the east of us, in Madrid, the trees are already blossoming:


In fact, the blossoms are already shedding petals, which reminds me of Omar Khayyam:

And look a thousand Blossoms with the day
Woke – and a thousand scatter’d into clay

Continue reading “ephemera”

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