Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “ and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “ without pictures or conversations ?” So she was considering in her own mind, (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid,) whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a white rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her. There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so very much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself, “ Oh dear ! Oh dear ! I shall be too late !” (when she thought it over afterwards, it occurred to her that she ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural); but when the Rabbit actually took a watch out of its waistcoat-pocket, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket or a watch to take out of it, and, burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge. In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again. The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well. Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next. First, she tried to look down and make out what she was coming to, but it was too dark to see anything : then she looked at the sides of the well, and noticed that they were filled with cupboards and bookshelves: here and there she saw maps and pictures hung upon pegs. She took down a jar from one of the shelves as she passed; it was labelled “ ORANGE MARMALADE,” but to her great disappointment it was empty: she did not like to drop the jar for fear of killing somebody underneath, so managed to put it into one of the cupboards as she fell past it. “Well !” thought Alice to herself, “ after such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling down stairs ! How brave they ’ll all think me at home! Why, I wouldn’t say anything about it, even if I fell off the top of the house !” (Which was very likely true.) Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end ? “ I wonder how many miles I ’ve fallen by this time ?” she said aloud. “I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the earth. Let me see : that would be four thousand miles down, I think—” (for, you see, Alice had learnt several things of this sort in her lessons in the schoolroom, and though this was not a very good opportunity for showing off her knowledge, as there was no one to listen to Down, down, down. There was nothing else to do, so Alice soon began talking again. “Dinah ’ll miss me very much to-night, I should think !” (Dinah was the cat.) “ I hope they’ll remember her saucer of milk at tea-time. Dinah, my dear! I wish you were down here with me ! There are no mice in the air, I’m afraid, but you might catch a bat, and that’s very like a mouse, you know. But do cats eat bats, I wonder?” And here Alice began to get rather sleepy, and went on saying to herself, in a dreamy sort of way, “Do cats eat bats ? Do cats eat bats ?” and sometimes, “Do bats eat cats?” for, you see, as she couldn’t answer either question, it didn’t much matter which way she put it. She felt that she was dozing off, and had just begun to dream that she was walking hand in hand with Dinah, and was saying to her very earnestly, “Now, Dinah, tell me the truth: did you ever eat a bat ?” when suddenly, thump ! thump! down she came upon a heap of sticks and dry leaves, and the fall was over. Alice was not a bit hurt, and she jumped up on to her feet in a moment : she looked up, but it was all dark overhead; before her was another long passage, and the White Rabbit was still in sight, hurrying down it. There was not a moment to be lost: away went Alice like the wind, and was just in time to hear it say, as it turned a corner, “Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it ’s getting !” She was close behind it when she turned the corner, but the Rabbit was no longer to be seen : she found herself in a long, low hall, which was lit up by a row of lamps hanging from the roof. There were doors all round the hall, but they were all locked, and when Alice had been all the way down one side and up the other, trying every door, she walked sadly down the middle, wondering how she was ever to get out again. Suddenly she came upon a little three-legged table, all made of solid glass; there was nothing on it but a tiny golden key, and Alice’s first idea was that this might belong to one of the doors of the hall ; but alas ! either the locks were too large, or the key was too small, but at any rate it would not open any of them. However, on the second time round, she came upon a low curtain she had not noticed before, and behind it was a little door about fifteen inches high : she tried the little golden key in the lock, and to her great delight it fitted ! Alice opened the door and found that it led into a small passage, not much larger than a rat-hole: she knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw. How she longed to get out of that dark hall, and wander about among those beds of bright flowers and those cool fountains, but she could not even get her head though the doorway ; “ and even if my head would go through,” thought poor Alice, “ it would be of very little use without my shoulders. Oh, how I wish I could shut up like a telescope! I think I could, if I only knew how to begin.” For, you see, so many out-of-the-way things had happened lately that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible. There seemed to be no use in waiting by the little door, so she went back to the table, half hoping she might find another key on it, or at any rate a book of rules for shutting people up like telescopes : this time she found a little bottle on it, (“which certainly was not here before,” said Alice,) and tied round the neck of the bottle was a paper label with the words “ DRINK ME” beautifully printed on it in large letters. It was all very well to say “Drink me,” but the wise little Alice was not going to do that
But one man alone … his heart set on his wife and his return—Calypso, the bewitching nymph, the lustrous goddess, held him back, deep in her arching caverns, craving him for a husband. But then, when the wheeling seasons brought the year around, that year spun out by the gods when he should reach his home, Ithaca—though not even there would he be free of trials, even among his loved ones—then every god took pity, all except Poseidon. He raged on, seething against the great Odysseus till he reached his native land. But now Poseidon had gone to visit the Ethiopians worlds away, Ethiopians off at the farthest limits of mankind, a people split in two, one part where the Sungod sets and part where the Sungod rises. There Poseidon went to receive an offering, bulls and rams by the hundred— far away at the feast the Sea-lord sat and took his pleasure. But the other gods, at home in Olympian Zeus’s halls, met for full assembly there, and among them now the father of men and gods was first to speak, sorely troubled, remembering handsome Aegisthus, the man Agamemnon’s son, renowned Orestes, killed. Recalling Aegisthus, Zeus harangued the immortal powers: “Ah how shameless—the way these mortals blame the gods. From us alone, they say, come all their miseries, yes, but they themselves, with their own reckless ways, compound their pains beyond their proper share. Look at Aegisthus now … above and beyond his share he stole Atrides’ wife, he murdered the warlord coming home from Troy though he knew it meant his own total ruin. Far in advance we told him so ourselves, dispatching the guide, the giant-killer Hermes. ‘Don’t murder the man,’ he said, ‘don’t court his wife. Beware, revenge will come from Orestes, Agamemnon’s son, that day he comes of age and longs for his native land.’ So Hermes warned, with all the good will in the world,
Meet Your Neighbour!
I used to be able to see flying insects in the air. I’d look ahead and see, not the row of hemlocks across the road, but the air in front of it. My eyes would focus along that column of air, picking out flying insects. But I lost interest, I guess, for I dropped the habit. Now I can see birds. Probably some people can look at the grass at their feet and discover all the crawling creatures. I would like to know grasses and sedges—and care. Then my least journey into the world would be a field trip, a series of happy recognitions. Thoreau, in an expansive mood, exulted, “What a rich book might be made about buds, including, perhaps, sprouts!” It would be nice to think so. I cherish mental images I have of three perfectly happy people. One collects stones. Another—an Englishman, say—watches clouds. The third lives on a coast and collects drops of seawater which he examines microscopically and mounts. But I don’t see what the specialist sees, and so I cut myself off, not only from the total picture, but from the various forms of happiness. Unfortunately, nature is very much a now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t affair. A fish flashes, then dissolves in the water before my eyes like so much salt. Deer apparently ascend bodily into heaven; the brightest oriole fades into leaves. These disappearances stun me into stillness and concentration; they say of nature that it conceals with a grand nonchalance, and they say of vision that it is a deliberate gift, the revelation of a dancer who for my eyes only flings away her seven veils. For nature does reveal as well as conceal: now-you-don’t-see-it, now-you-do. For a week last September migrating red-winged blackbirds were feeding heavily down by the creek at the back of the house. One day I went out to investigate the racket; I walked up to a tree, an Osage orange, and a hundred birds flew away. They simply materialized out of the tree. I saw a tree, then a whisk of color, then a tree again. I walked closer and another hundred blackbirds took flight.
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