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STOIC POETRY | Words like flowers upon a table

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

Words are like clay in the hands of a potter, who might pound together a rough cup and offer it "here!" as an implement of utility. And so the course word cup might be useful, something to drink from and quench a thirst. The cup then is an instrument of the base end of work and living, not an end in itself as the thing our lives might strive for: beauty, understanding, rhyme and meaning even. Language as life is reserved then for museums, and the highest, darkest, and dustiest shelves of the library marked Poetry, Literature and Classics. Language as life is like a range of mountains seen in the distance, beautiful to behold from far away, something great to be sure, climbed by some, perhaps one day by me - but not today.

But the classics are here and within easy reach of our tongue, through the careful attendance to what we say, and the reserved application of our speech. An economy of well-chosen words is as beautiful to behold as a great stanza. This is especially true when just a few words can convey deep meaning, as in these simple lines from Basho:

The old pond; A frog jumps in— The sound of the water.

I wish that my ordinary speech might take on the character of a humble arrangement of flowers at the kitchen table: simple, unimposing, lovely to behold, revealing of the unseen optimist who has left us something worthwhile to discover and enjoy.

An economy of words Assembled, Arranged, Shared, Like fresh flowers On the kitchen table

What a worthwhile use of time— To hold my tongue until I have something true and helpful to say, and then to say it with just a few, carefully selected words, and then to withdraw again to the silent attendance of life.


My name is Kurt Bell.

You can learn more about The Good Life in my book Going Alone.

Be safe... But not too safe.

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