Have anything beautiful you would like to share with Rick’s Picks readers? Send me a link that I use and you could win a free month’s subscription to the newsletter, including 24/7 access to one of the trading world’s friendliest chat rooms. Meanwhile, in the complete absence of any market activity worthy of note, here’s something I would like to share with you today. It is an excerpt from The Crock of Gold, a wondrous work of Irish wit and transcendent poetry from James Stephens. There is no other book remotely like it in the English language.
As described by a reviewer at Amazon, “the story begins with two philosophers who are married to two women (spitefully). The wise advice of the philosopher earns him the enmity of Leprechauns, when the crock of gold is stolen. Satiric and yet generally light you will love this inventive book.
“Many very modern challenges to the human spirit are presented extremely well, The old thief’s tale is poignant and sad.
“Some analysis of the deeper meanings in this book are in short, a distaste for the modern era; modern ennui and angst; the limits of philosophy; an indictment of justice systems; and attacks on the loss of the Irish heritage to western fables; the value of beauty and art; the meaning of wisdom; the nature of man and woman; and the meaning of love.
The story begins…
“In due process of time two children were born of these marriages. They were born on the same day and in the same hour, and they were only different in this, that one of them was a boy and the other one was a girl. Nobody was able to tell how this had happened, and, for the first time in their lives, the Philosophers were forced to admire an event which they had been unable to prognosticate; but having proved by many different methods that the children were really children, that what must be must be, that a fact cannot be controverted, and that what has happened once may happen twice, they described the occurrence as extraordinary but not unnatural, and submitted peacefully to a Providence even wiser than they were.
The Philosopher who had the boy was very pleased because, he said, there were too many women in the world, and the Philosopher who had the girl was very pleased also because, he said, you cannot have too much of a good thing: the Grey Woman and the Thin Woman, however, were not in the least softened by maternity-they said that they had not bargained for it, that the children were gotten under false presences, that they were respectable married women, and that, as a protest against their wrongs, they would not cook any more food for the Philosophers. This was pleasant news for their husbands, who disliked the women’s cooking very much, but they did not say so, for the women would certainly have insisted on their rights to cook had they imagined their husbands disliked the results: therefore, the Philosophers besought their wives every day to cook one of their lovely dinners again, and this the women always refused to do.
They all lived together in a small house in the very centre of a dark pine wood. Into this place the sun never shone because the shade was too deep, and no wind ever came there either, because the boughs were too thick, so that it was the most solitary and quiet place in the world, and the Philosophers were able to hear each other thinking all day long, or making speeches to each other, and these were the pleasantest sounds they knew of. To them there were only two kinds of sounds anywhere–these were conversation and noise: they liked the first very much indeed, but they spoke of the second with stern disapproval, and, even when it was made by a bird, a breeze, or a shower of rain, they grew angry and demanded that it should be abolished. Their wives seldom spoke at all and yet they were never silent: they communicated with each other by a kind of physical telegraphy which they had learned among the Shee-they cracked their finger-joints quickly or slowly and so were able to communicate with each other over immense distances, for by dint of long practice they could make great explosive sounds which were nearly like thunder, and gentler sounds like the tapping of grey ashes on a hearthstone. The Thin Woman hated her own child, but she loved the Grey Woman’s baby, and the Grey Woman loved the Thin Woman’s infant but could not abide her own. A compromise may put an end to the most perplexing of situations, and, consequently, the two women swapped children, and at once became the most tender and amiable mothers imaginable, and the families were able to live together in a more perfect amity than could be found anywhere else.”