Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Thanksgiving & the Great Big Little Aphorism Birthday Contest

4 salt tears for Thanksgiving, that very American holiday

* a little salt tear for Governor Bradford's wife, Dorothy, leaping from the Mayflower to her death in the icy waters of the bay--her only child 3,000 miles off, and she caught between the endless bitter brine and a rime-clad shore.

* another for The Starving Time that Dorothy Bradford escaped by death

* one for the man Governor Bradford called the instrument of God, Squanto--by a succession of surprising events becoming the right man in the very right place at the very right time--having learned English and become a Christian after being captured and sold in the Old World, and having returned to the very shore where the Puritans would land, far from their intended destination point

* and one last tear for the astonishing fact of a Pilgrim people who appeared, to our knowing modern eyes, to have so little and yet to thank so very much.

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Just arrived back home from Thanksgiving dinner in Esperance--a lovely frolic--and found a note from the judge, Philip Lee Williams, in my mailbox. And yes, he has chosen a winner, who needs to send me a mailing address.

Here's what he says about his pick:"I've read through all the new aphorisms with a lot of pleasure and even glee. They warn of fame and failure in equal amounts, and since we all fall somewhere between the two, most of us are fine targets. But I'll have to say my pick for winner goes to Clare D. for: 'Sadness is best confined to small boxes so it may be consigned to the dustiest attic of memory.' That has the kind of visual strength that makes an aphorism memorable. My attic is full of such boxes, but they usually stay shut and insignificant. Brava to Clare for the winning entry!"

Thank you to Phil! His e-home is: http://www.philipleewilliams.com/. Although he is primarily a writer and poet, he also composes music and--though I don't see it on the website--has been known to sculpt in alabaster.

Here are the aphorisms that brought him "pleasure and even glee," in the order that they were submitted:

*a man with teenage children never again trusts to his own abilities. anonymous

*a happy life requires two underlying passions; one for an idea and one for another person. one passion will only leave you bitter. anonymous

*The sculptor is a Materialist with a soul. Joy In Life

*Fatness is the only personal failing that can be objectively measured. No one can say quantitatively how greedy or proud or lazy you are. But any scale can say within a pound how little regard society holds for you. anonymous

*Nothing is so dangerous as a well wrought aphorism. anonymous

*Don't knock what's not hollow. Archbold

*Deceit's redemption resides in truth. Jeffrey in Cullowhee

*Nothing exceeds like excess. Lori Witzel

*A bird in the hand is worth a bandage on the thumb. Lori Witzel

*Every man secretly wishes for a troublesome wife upon which to blame his failings. anonymous

*The desire of every anonymous person is fame. The desire of every famous person is wealth. The desire of every wealthy person is anonymity. anonymous

*Sadness is best confined in small boxes so it may be consigned to the dustiest attic of memory. Clare D.

& a final one submitted today, after the Thanksgiving feast--

*Gluttony is no reflection of gratitude. anonymous

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I'm very glad that I handed off the judging, because I am free to enjoy and be glad for all these aphorisms and writers of aphorisms--and so, on Thankgiving, I will simply say that I am giving you each a little bit of thanks.

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The photograph of fall leaves is courtesy of www.sxc.hu/ and photographer Claudia Meyer of St. Germain en Laye, France.

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6 comments:

  1. Buon Compleanno, belatedly. A very Italian birthday, indeed, to give rather than expect giftings.

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  2. Amanda,
    Thank you! And I hope the dreaming and the sculpting is going well, on the other side of the water. I've wandered through your musings and am looking forward to more...

    Clare,
    I'm glad you're pleased and don't forget to email me an address on the other side of the sea--or else I will have to put the books in a large bottle and hope for the best. Also: birthday or Christmas paper? I'd offer more but Cooperstown doesn't sell more. Perhaps white paper with appropriate doodles...

    Yes, Clare was pleased, trala. Perhaps I'll do this again some time.

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  3. Yikes, I missed the contest! Too busy cooking and thinking about cooking, drat it. She who cooks for 20 can neither sketch nor aphorize. Happy birthday, dear Marly, happy birthday to you. I'm glad you were born and that I met you, even if the meeting took place in cyberworld!

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  4. Ah well, next time I'm in Chapel Hill, we will do lunch, won't we? I'm glad you were born, too!

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  5. Though I was one of those engaged excessively with cooking and hosting, I did find my mind engaged during the dark, sleepless hours with the idea of composing aphorisms as a birthday gift for you, Marly. Belatedly, and in your honor:
    Poets, like chickens, wake us with their cluckings.

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  6. Of the known Deborah possibilities, I'm guessing this is D. Bohlmann who has has the peculiar genius to unite those two great categories, poets and chickens. Both loom large.

    What a jolly morsel toward the end of the day. I'm going to go read a bit more of Tours of the Black Clock and fiddle with a story. Thanks for the aphorism--it's giving me a good feeling about tomorrow, somehow. I expect to be awakened by roosters and poems...

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.