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The Human Heart

From time to time, this blog features writings that I find moving or significant to my thinking.  The following piece by Dr. Frank Crane is truly exceptional.  You can find it other places on the net, but if you have never read it, you need to do so now.


The human heart is a wide moor under a dull sky, with voices of invisible birds calling in the distance.

The human heart is a lonely lane in the evening, and two lovers are walking down it, whispering and lingering.

The human heart is a great green tree, and many strange birds come and sing in its branches; a few build nests, but most are from far lands north and south, and never come again.

The human heart is a deep still pool; in it are fishes of gold and silver, darting playfully, and slow-heaving slimy monsters, and tarnished treasure hoards, the infinite animalcular life; but when you look down at it you see but your own reflected face.

The human heart is an undiscovered country; men and women are forever perishing as they explore its wilds.

The human heart is an egg; and out of it are hatched this world and heaven and hell.

The human heart is a tangled wood wherein no man knows his way.

The human heart is a roaring forge where night and day the smiths are busy fashioning swords and silver cups, mitres and engine-wheels, the tools of labor, and the gauds of precedence.

The human heart is a garden, wherein grow weeds of memory and blooms of hope, and the snow falls at last and covers all.

The human heart is a meadow full of fireflies, a summer western sky of shimmering distant lightnings, a shore set round with flashing lighthouses, far-away voices calling that we cannot understand.

The human heart is a band playing in a park at a distance; we see the crowds listening, but we catch but fragments of the music now and again, and cannot make out the tune.

The human heart is a great city, teeming with myriad people, full of business and mighty doings, and we wander its crowded streets unutterably alone; we do not know what it is all about.

The human heart to youth is a fairy-land of adventure, to old age it is a sitting room where one knows his way in the dark.

The human heart is a cup of love, where some find life and zest, and some drunkenness and death.

The human heart is the throne of God, the council-chamber of the devil, the dwelling of angels, the vile heath of witches’ Sabbaths, the nursery of sweet children, the blood-spattered scene of nameless tragedies.

Listen! You will hear mothers’ lullabies, madmen’s shrieks, love-croonings, cries of agonized terror, hymns of Christ, the roaring of lynch mobs, the kisses of lovers, the curses of pirates.

Bend close! You will smell the lily fragrance of love, the stench of lust, now odors as exquisite as the very spirit of violets, and now such nauseous repulsions as words cannot tell.

Nobilities, indecencies, heroic impulses, cowardly ravings, good and bad, white and black — the mystery of mysteries, the central island of nescience in a sea of science, the dark spot in the lighted room of knowledge, the unknown quantity, the X in the universal problem.

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